Thornton Junior Football Club is expected to receive new lighting after Labor and Liberal candidates for Paterson signaled funding if elected on 21 May.
Allan and Don Lawrence Field needs new lights installed to increase Friday night competition and mid-week training opportunities.
Member for Paterson Meryl Swanson championed the opportunity if Labor is elected.
“You have my commitment that I am going to be taking this request, from this club, and others forward to the October budget if we are elected under an Albanese Government, to make sure that we do upgrade the lights here,” Swanson said.
Liberal candidate for Paterson Brooke Vitnell is equally confident of a funding outcome for Thornton Junior Football Club.
“I’m going to be rattling the can around if I’m given the great opportunity to represent this community in two weeks’ time. I’ll be hunting for funding for organisations just like this and I’m pretty darn determined and pretty good at what I do too,” Vitnell said.
Increasing participation opportunities, particularly for women and girls, is central to any funding commitment from the major parties. A cash injection will come off the back of lobbying from Northern NSW Football’s #EQUALISER campaign.
Northern NSW Football CEO David Eland said only 25 per cent of football facilities in Paterson are regarded as being female friendly.
“As Australia’s largest team participation sport, the football community has asked government to deliver an equaliser for women and girls’ football ahead of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup to be held in Australia and New Zealand,” Eland said.
Thornton Junior Football Club is thriving with 500 participants, including more than 100 females.
“We have experienced 45 per cent growth in players over the last five years and installing new lights at our home ground will increase our capacity to provide positive football experiences and get more girls playing,” Thornton Junior FC club secretary Kristen Birkett said.
“Thanks to both Meryl and Brooke from the Labor and Liberal parties for their commitment to our community and getting more girls active.”
NNSWF Community Football Manager Ross Hicks said the #EQUALISER campaign was designed to support grassroots football to deliver new, or improved, female-friendly facilities through direct engagement with the government during the 2022 federal election.
“A Football Australia audit of 3,000 facilities showed only 35 per cent are female friendly. We agree this needs to change if we want to hit our goal of 35 per cent female participation by 2023. With a home World Cup next year, now is the time for the upgrade,” Hicks said.
The $150,000 project has been approved and costed by Maitland City Council.