Thursday, June 13, 2024


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

Pick Up Your Stumps For An “At Capacity” Sportspark

For the past 18 months Airlie Beach Cricket has been setting up stumps and looking to establish the popular summer sport at the Whitsunday Sportspark, but the request has become a contentious issue following concerns that the grounds are already running at 200% capacity.

Football, Touch Football, Netball, Rugby Union and AFL form the five Foundation Club Members which all have voting rights and at the end of this month, the five codes will all cast their vote on whether to allow Airlie Beach Cricket to play at the grounds.

There are mixed views on the issue, although the general consensus is to include Cricket, despite it adding to an already over-populated ground.

And while some of the playing fields are running at 200% capacity the current AFL pitch (which could be shared by cricket during the summer months), is not.

Airlie Beach Cricket assert that there are countless grounds across Australia where AFL and Cricket harmoniously share their fields, from the GABBA to Harrup Park.

The deeper issue, however, seems to be an already straining facility which is struggling to accommodate the existing sporting activities.

A statement from the Whitsunday Sea Eagles AFL Club said they “currently use the full field from January to September with Carnivals throughout the year and development through November.”

They believe this conflicts with the Cricket season which is hoping to run from September through to March.

Other sports clubs using the facility, however, have shared their sporting field for a number of years and are working together to arrange a schedule so both sports can live symbiotically.

“We all work around each other, everyone works together,” said Allan Milostic from Airlie Beach Football Club.

“Fundamentally we are inclusive, and we do want more sports. The biggest issue is green space and ideally, we’d have plenty of land for everyone.

“Football doesn’t have an issue with cricket being there, with the caveat that it doesn’t impact existing codes.”

Whitsunday Touch have similar views.

“I’m totally about inclusivity, it’s a community sport and all are included,” said Alita De Brincat from Whitsunday Touch.

“We as a committee have made a decision to support it, but it was not a unanimous decision, we went with the majority on the basis of being inclusive and the community working together.”

Meanwhile, Tim Oberg President of Whitsunday Junior Rugby Union, said "we firmly believe that establishing a new cricket club in Airlie Beach will be a tremendous asset to our community.

The Whitsunday Sportspark Committee also believe the inclusion of Cricket would work in a practical sense.

“Whilst our facility is far too small to service the growing town and the bottom fields are running at over 200% of carrying capacity with soccer, rugby and touch using them, the top oval is not running at full capacity,” said Justin Butler, Chairman of the Whitsunday Sportspark.

Mr Butler adds that including another sport will “put further pressure on all levels of government to develop a second sporting complex for the town.”

There is 100 acres of Whitsunday Regional Council owned land located opposite Brandy Creek Road and it was purchased 12 years ago with intention that it will become a sporting complex and possibly new high school.

“Council need to push for it,” said Allan Milostic.

“We urgently need more playing spaces and steps need to be taken urgently.”

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