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Manton St Tales

Sport's new era set for kick-off

Manton St Tales

Adelaide’s State Centre for Football will host its first fixtures this weekend, launching a new local era for the sport.

 

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It seems like a lifetime ago but back in February 2018 the then State Government announced it was investing in a new football facility at Gepps Cross.

Aptly named the State Centre for Football, it was long-time goal for Football SA.

A lot has changed since that initial announcement, with changes of government and a global pandemic. Thankfully though, development of this sporting hub never fell off the agenda.

The complex is now ready to host its first competitive fixtures – a women’s cup game tonight and two NPLSA games tomorrow (and a host of Under 18 and Reserves games).

While the completed venue will differ slightly to what was originally announced, it remains world class. It houses:

For the $24 million invested, South Australia now has one of the nation’s best football facilities.

Photo: Jayden Betterman, Football SA

Football SA Chief Executive Michael Carter told InDaily the complex was an important asset for the game and comes off the back of a significant club infrastructure program.

“The State Centre for Football is for the football community. Players, coaches, referees and spectators will all get to see the venue in the coming weeks with lots of activities planned,” he said.

“Our goal was to develop a venue that would cater for the grassroots through to the professional game and I feel that has largely been achieved.

“There is a real buzz around and it has been great to have activity from day one of occupancy with us hosting country children from across South Australia and then the Junior Matildas for the first ever training camp at the State Centre.

“The opportunities with the venue are significant.”

Photo: Jayden Betterman, Football SA

There’s no doubt there are a lot of things wrong with football in Australia – it would be naïve to argue otherwise. But there’s much to celebrate also, particularly here in South Australia where there has been massive investment in upgrading or building new facilities, as Carter mentioned.

The State Centre for Football is just another in that long line.

The Modbury Jets have been part of South Australia’s football landscape since 1965. Like all clubs at the semi-professional level in South Australia, it is run by hardworking volunteers.

Back in March 2017, the Jets launched their new synthetic pitch that was partially funded by grants from the State Government and the Tea Tree Gully Council.

Modbury’s President Jeff McCormack told InDaily the synthetic pitch allowed the club to increase pitch usage from four days a week to seven.

“We are now able to let the women, amateurs and juniors use the pitch, when previously an alternative ground was needed,” McCormack, who also coaches the senior amateur men’s team, explained.

“The wider community has also benefited with schools and other football clubs using our facilities. It goes without saying that the money saved on watering is a major bonus.

“All-in-all, the ability to play and train at any time has allowed Modbury to grow and grow.”

But the Jets aren’t alone. Modbury Vista, MetroStars, Adelaide City, Seaford, South Adelaide, Cumberland, Northern Demons and West Torrens Birkalla are other local football clubs that have had their grounds upgraded in the last few years. There are others and more to come.

These grounds compliment venues like the new State Centre for Football, the Parks, West Beach and Mt Barker’s stunning Summit Sport and Recreation Park.

Football might just have the best grassroots facilities of any sport in South Australia. And this can only mean one thing: a huge boost for the boys and girls, men and women who play our game now and those that will play it in the future.

Minister for Recreation, Sport and Racing Katrine Hildyard said the State Government was committed to supporting football in South Australia and ensuring the game has the infrastructure it needs.

“We thank Football SA and all who have been involved in ensuring these world class facilities at the State Centre for Football can now open up exciting new opportunities for players, coaches and officials and enable football to host important events that bring people together both on and off the pitch,” she said.

“Football remains so popular and, pleasingly, more girls and women are playing. We are delighted that the State Centre for Football is going to be used as a training venue for the 2023 Women’s World Cup, which will no doubt inspire even more people to get involved in the sport.”

Photo Credit: Jayden Betterman, Football SA

Football has always held a special place in South Australia’s heart. Many commentators have often referred to this state as the “spiritual home” of the game in Australia.

The start of competitive fixtures at State Centre for Football will usher in a new phase for our game here in South Australia.

While the official opening of the venue is planned for a later date (where all the pomp and ceremony will occur) when the referee blows their whistle tonight to start the cup match between the West Adelaide and Modbury Vista, you may just hear some champagne corks popping at the same time.

Spiro Karanikos-Mimis is InDaily’s soccer columnist. He is a contractor for Football SA and in 2018 was an adviser for the current Minister for Recreation, Sport and Racing.

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