Game on for some sports fields this weekend

WITH a break in the wet weather delivering some much-needed sunshine, Wollongong City Council is anticipating at least 11 of 42 sports grounds to open this weekend.

Soccer, rugby league and AFL matches will be able to take places on selected fields across the city including at Thomas Gibson Park, Thirroul.

Two areas not traditionally used for junior competition football will also be opened up at Nicholson Park, Woonona, and within Thomas Dalton Park, Fairy Meadow. These areas are being used to allow young people the chance to play a game.

“It has been such a tough start to winter sport this year and our staff have been doing their best to get the fields to a point where they can be used for recreational activities,’’ Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said.

“This work doesn’t just include mowing the pitches, but also getting the goals and other equipment in place. These tasks require the use of heavy machinery and equipment and grounds that aren’t too sodden, or they’ll be damaged.

“We know there are a few pitches out there that are so absolutely waterlogged that they’re not likely to see a game this winter. To get around this we’ve been working with the sporting clubs and associations to facilitate other options like Nicholson Park in Woonona and a portion of Thomas Dalton Park.

“The games that will be played in these locations are a mix of small-sided football, and some junior graded games because a small team of eight-year-old football players do not have the same level of impact on a sporting field as a team of adults.’’

See video: Wollongong City Council’s Paul Tracey talks waterlogged sports grounds

Council staff will continue to monitor ground conditions over the weekend, particularly with further rain forecast, and will work closely with local clubs on the next steps for the fields.

“We’re very grateful for the way that the sporting clubs and associations have been proactively working with us to get sports happening, while also working to protect the grounds as much as possible,’’ Wollongong City Council Manager Open Space & Environmental Services Paul Tracey said.

“The steps we’re taking now not only facilitates sports as best we can, but also considers the long-term effects of this weather on our fields. We’re at a time of year when the grass does not grow as fast and if we go too hard too fast on these fields in terms of use, they can be damaged in a way that’ll see them out of play for the rest of the season.’’

Cr Bradbery encouraged community members to stay in touch with their sporting groups for the latest updates on their grounds.

“The situation is different from ground to ground across the city,’’ he said.

“Even in one area – like Rex Jackson Oval in Helensburgh it can vary across the fields. This weekend, we’ll be able to hold soccer, but the rugby league grounds will be a no-go zone for some time yet.’’

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About Mick Roberts

A journalist, writer and historian, Mick Roberts specialises in Australian cultural history, particularly associated with the Australian hotel and liquor industry. Mick has had an interest in revealing the colourful story of Australian pubs and associated industries for over 30 years. He is working on a comprehensive history of the hotel and liquor industry in the Illawarra region of NSW. Besides writing a number of history books, Mick managed several community newspapers. He has been editor of the Wollongong Northern News, The Bulli Times, The Northern Times, The Northern Leader and The Local - all located in the Wollongong region. As a journalist he has worked for Rural Press, Cumberland (News Limited), the Sydney city newspaper, City News, and Torch Publications based in Canterbury Bankstown, NSW.


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