Jeff McArthur at Norbridge Park. (Inset) Wade Harris playing at Norbridge Park in 2017.
Jeff McArthur at Norbridge Park. (Inset) Wade Harris playing at Norbridge Park in 2017. Allan Reinikka ROK150519anorbrid

Labor's $1m boost for local sporting facilities

AFTER years of flooded grounds, long lines in the female toilets and only one field with lighting, Norbridge Park football grounds is finally getting the support it has been longing for.

Rockhampton Football Association president Jeff McArthur discussed his long bid to improve the facilities with The Morning Bulletin yesterday morning, before action from Labor candidate Russell Robertson gave his wish list a running start.

Yesterday afternoon, a spokesman for Mr Robertson revealed that under a Labor government, $1 million would be poured into the grounds, which host to one of the fastest growing junior sports in the region.

The spokesperson said a quarter of that funding would go towards improving the female facilities and the remaining amount would go towards other facilities such as the canteen, offices, training rooms and grounds after a scoping study to determine the allocation.

Last week, Mr McArthur approached LNP's incumbent Capricornia member Michelle Landry and Mr Robertson about a proposed extension of the female facilities at the soccer grounds.

Mr Robertson, who played on the field 25 years ago, went down to the field to see the issue first-hand.

Jeff McArthur at Norbridge Park.
Jeff McArthur at Norbridge Park. Allan Reinikka ROK150519anorbrid

"He was very positive,” Mr McArthur said.

Mr McArthur's proposed project involved raising a field half a metre to match the others to handle minor flooding, field lighting, extending the female facilities building by four metres, and introducing a disability toilet, a parents' changing room, and six more female toilet cubicles.

Parking was also something he wanted to address, in order to provide visitors with a "properly defined reserved car park”.

"We get thousands of kids down there on a Saturday and their parents with them,” Mr McArthur said.

"It should've been done 20 years ago.”

Mr McArthur moved to Rockhampton in 1995 and first got involved with the club when his son began playing in 1996.

"We had to do a traffic management study and were working with the assistance Rockhampton Regional Council staff to come up with a formal traffic plan. There had never been one for Norbridge Park before,” he said.

Junior Soccer at Norbridge Park - Wade Harris playing in an U12 game.
Junior Soccer at Norbridge Park - Wade Harris playing in an U12 game. Chris Ison ROK090717cjnrsoccer4

"It would cover which way the traffic flows, crossings and speed bumps. We have a 10km restriction but not everyone abides by it.

"It's about making the park safe and secure and providing better amenities.”

In 2017, Rockhampton Regional Council considered supporting local clubs under the Queensland government's Female Facilities Program, but chose to fund the Rockhampton Netball Association due to higher numbers.

An RRC spokesperson said the fact that the lease for Norbridge Park was about to run out and had not been sorted yet, also impacted the decision not to go with the football grounds.

In 2018, Mr McArthur decided to independently submit submissions for state government funding via the national Sport and Recreation department for facilities.

Because the licencing had been sorted over the lease, Rockhampton Regional Council gave Mr McArthur a letter of support, but his application was rejected by state government.

"We were told by council in 2018 that when they started to implement female facilities, netball had a higher number of regular players than soccer,” he said.

"From a council point of view, I agree. Those with higher numbers have to be started with first.”

Ms Landry, Mr Robertson and RRC were approached for comment.

Mr Roberston's spokesperson said the only way to ensure delivery of the funding was to elect a Labor government and that meant voting for the Labor candidate.

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