Celebrations at Cowwarr

A FEMALE-friendly facelift at Cowwarr Recreation Reserve has been fulfilled as part of the state government’s $5 million Community Managed Places fund for Gippsland sporting venues.

Cowwarr’s new women’s netball, football and umpire change rooms were officially opened on Thursday by committee of management president Ray Bebbinton and Wellington Shire mayor Carolyn Crossley, following a $1.08 million refurbishment, marking the first of nine local reserves to be upgraded under the initiative.

Cr Crossley said the works at Cowwarr included new unisex home and away change rooms, trainers’ rooms, umpires’ change rooms, as well as male, female and family-friendly amenities.

“This upgrade at Cowwarr has lifted the spirits of the town,” she said.

“The Cowwarr Recreation Reserve is a vital part of the community and is not only used for children’s, men’s and women’s sport, but is also a place to congregate for other community events and celebrations.”

Cowwarr Football-Netball Club committee member and former president Garry Blair, who helped lead the upgrade, was full of praise for the new facilities.

The club moved in just after Easter, and Blair said it was a beautiful, well-designed building.

“If I was a Cheshire cat, my smile would break my head in half,” he said.

“The number one priority was the netball changeroom and facilities, we had no facilities for girls, and it became paramount that we needed that, so that’s where some of the funding came from, upgrading women’s facilities.

“It will be a benefit to attract players — it was 40 years since we built it, 1977 it was opened, and the shire at the time, the old Rosedale Shire, gave us $2500 (for construction).”

The next step for Cowwarr FNC will be lighting upgrades, to allow more games to be played, he added.

“It’s been absolutely marvellous, finished on time, credit to contractors, hasn’t been a glitch in the system,” he said.

“I’d like to say a big thank you to the council, they’ve backed us all the way on this, also DELWP and LVA, because without their money we wouldn’t have made it over the line.

“It really does show they’re willing to support the local clubs, local communities, and local facilities — it’s our money going back into our facilities.”

Department of Environment Land Water and Planning regional director Steve Chapple announced project funding for another eight reserves as part of the program.

“Sport is such a significant part of bringing our community together, and these upgrades will ensure our clubs are able to cater for growing participation in sport across our region, in particular female participation,” he said.

“We have been working closely with these clubs and local council to ensure projects nominated will most benefit each of the facilities in terms of future participation and best use of space.”

Reserves to benefit from the upgrades include:

• Gormandale Recreation Reserve: lighting upgrades for football and netball.

• Heyfield Recreation Reserve: cricket training nets (including three new bays with retractable nets), resurfacing of existing netball court and development of second court and upgrade to lighting on main oval.

• Traralgon Recreation Reserve: reconstruction of netball courts, complete with a lighting upgrade, renovations to change rooms and toilet amenities and improved safety measures for roller derby.

• Glengarry Recreation Reserve: New indoor and outdoor cricket facilities as well as change rooms for women and umpires

The Community Managed Places fund is part of the $85 million Latrobe Valley Sports and Community Initiative, administered by the Latrobe Valley Authority.