Illawarra netball have launched a push for a dramatic upgrade of facilities at Berkeley's Fred Finch Park.
With a federal election just weeks away, Illawarra District Netball Association president Dianne Elvy met with Labor MP's Stephen Jones and Sharon Bird, as well as recently re-elected Wollongong state member Paul Scully during a gala day on Saturday. At the centre of discussions are Netball Australia guidelines, which have been changed to stipulate a bigger space needed between courts and the prospect of a lighting upgrade to allow for more training and playing flexibility.
It has resulted in Jones and Bird considering funding options as part of their election promises, with the Labor opposition a $1.18 to win the upcoming election, expected to be held on May 11 or 18.
"There is duty of care to the players that we work towards increasing the distance between courts so that it's safe for spectators, umpires and players," Elvy said, with more than 2700 players to be in action on the courts this year.
"Down the line, many years we could have to stop playing (without reconfiguration). At the moment, we try to put a court between games so you're accommodating extra room you need. Sometimes it's not possible, with so many games there, we have to have them close together.
"(An upgrade) would help a lot of people, save us a lot of worry about people being in danger of getting hurt."
Jones said an upgrade had merit, if the Illawarra is to host major state and national competitions in future, declaring regional areas deserve first-class facilities.
"It's one of the biggest netball facilities outside of Sydney and if you don't have it up to standard then you stand at risk of missing out on hosting major events," he said.
"And when you host big competitions in Sydney no-one notices, but when you host them in regional areas, everyone notices how important they are, it's a big boost to the area.
"We've seen the growth of netball with the broadcasting of the national league and the boom in popularity of the sport."
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