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Football NSW welcomes investment into Valentine Sports Park

Football NSW welcomes investment into Valentine Sports Park
April 5, 2012

Football NSW has welcomed the Federal Government's announcement of a $3 million investment into the redevelopment of its facilities at Valentine Sports Park in western Sydney.

The announcement by Prime Minister Julia Gillard split an $8 million funding commitment for football development in Western Sydney made prior to the 2010 Federal Election.

Speaking of the funding, Football NSW Chief Executive Eddie Moore explained "Football NSW is delighted that the Federal Government is investing in the redevelopment of Valentine Sports Park and providing ongoing commitments to initiatives in the Western Sydney football community."

Football NSW sees the creation of a vibrant, state of the art and contemporary headquarters for football in NSW as vital to the continued growth and development of the game and for the nearly 200,000 players across the state who participate and love their game.

Redevelopment of the Valentine Sports Park facility replaces an earlier plan for a new $70 million headquarters in the nearby suburb of Riverstone. When the property developer of the Riverstone project fell into administration, the Football NSW Board reviewed the game's needs and requirements and made the assessment that the redevelopment of the existing precinct at Valentine Park was the most financially sound and appropriate step forward for the future of the game in NSW.

The decision to redevelop Valentine Sports Park ensures that Football NSW will be able to manage its core facilities in a financially sustainable manner.

Speaking of the change of plan, Moore added "the initial proposal at Riverstone, while grand in its approach was in reality far beyond the needs and the financial capabilities of Football NSW."

The development of the existing site at Valentine Park will ensure both the community footballers and those on the elite pathways will be able to access state of the art facilities on a year round basis.

In partnership with Football Federation Australia (FFA), Football NSW's vision is to cater for and develop further opportunities and programs for all football participants ï¾ juniors, elite, grassroots, coaches, referees, Futsal, athletes with a disabilities, indigenous and new arrival communities - at a Home of Football open to all.

FFA has also announced that Western Sydney will be represented by a new club in the Hyundai A-League 2012/13 season.

The establishment of the new club was announced as part of Prime Minister Gillard's visit to Valentine Sports Park for to announce the funding package for football development in Western Sydney.

In addition to the $3 million for the redevelopment of the Football NSW headquarters at Valentine Sports Park, $1 million has been allocated to the development of women's football and the Westfield W-League while $4 million will back the new and, as yet, unnamed Western Sydney team.

Welcoming the funding, FFA Chief Executive Ben Buckley stated "I'm delighted that the funding from the Gillard Government will help create a fertile environment for the new Hyundai A-League club in Western Sydney.

"From day one of its existence the new club will have a core focus on community engagement. The community will have a say in the culture, colours, name and logo of the new entity and we will explore a model that would allow for community ownership.

"In partnership with Football NSW, FFA will ensure the club is truly integrated in community football, schools programs and the elite player pathway.

"We intend to build a model that will be driven by the passion of the football people in Sydney's west.

"This represents a major investment by FFA in the future of the game and aligns with FFA's Strategic Plan endorsed by the recent Smith Review."

Buckley said the inclusion of the new Western Sydney club would be a boost for all clubs in the national competition, adding "I know that the prospect of having a fierce rival in Sydney and all the passion of a derby game will excite everyone associated with Sydney FC."

While critics have questioned the use of Federal Government money to support a professional sports league and the short lead in time (just seven months) for the creation of a new team to complete in the 2012/13 A-League seaon, the A-League needed a tenth team from somewhere for next season and it would appear that a Western Sydney would be better equipped for success than a team based in other potential host cities such as Canberra, Darwin, Geelong, Hobart or Wollongong.

The Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) is among industry stakeholders to welcome the  establishment of an A-League club in Western Sydney, citing Western Sydney as the heartland of football in Australia and the need for it to be given a viable presence in the A-League to maximise the competition's playing quality, attendances and national television audience. 

PFA Chief Executive Brendan Schwab explained "as with all A-League clubs, the challenge will be to convert the massive participation base of Western Sydney and interest in the game into being avid fans of the new A-League club.

"The level of interest and participation in Western Sydney should, if the local community is properly engaged, set the standard for the rest of the A-League competition.

"The PFA believes that, with at least ten teams for next season including two in both Sydney and Melbourne, the A-League is properly structured for the medium term and all involved in the game must make a steadfast commitment to the long term sustainability of all clubs."

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