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Plans for Central Otago’s second full-sized hockey turf will poise the district for the international sporting stage, backers of a multimillion dollar turf proposal in Alexandra say.

Once the proposed Alexandra turf was built, the town would be able to host international hockey games jointly with the existing Cromwell turf, Molyneux Turf Incorporated president Bridgette Winter said.

The Alexandra turf – which is expected to cost between $1.5million and $2million dollars – had become “a reality” after the Vincent Community Board’s recent decision to provide land for the development within Molyneux Park, Mrs Winter said.

The exact site is still to be confirmed, but the board has agreed in principle to set aside an area of up to 7500sqm in the park for a turf.

Fundraising for the project had now begun “in earnest” and the hockey and wider Central Otago community was being asked to put their “full weight” behind the proposal, Mrs Winter said.

“This is exciting. The turf will now be built, but we now need everybody’s help.”

The announcement of the provision of the land and a tentative timeline for the turf was the culmination of more than six years work by a group of hockey leaders, Mrs Winter said.

The group had worked behind the scenes and with funders since 2013, determined to see a full-sized hockey turf built in Alexandra to complement the “excellent” existing full-sized water turf in Cromwell, she said.

The Cromwell turf had become oversubscribed as hockey player numbers continued to grow in Central Otago and the need for a second turf had long been identified, Mrs Winter said.

Molyneux Park had been identified as an excellent sports hub and a suitable location for a turf by independent reviews, Mrs Winter said.

Research by Molyneux Turf Inc. showed 51% of hockey players came from Central Otago’s “eastern” district, comprising Alexandra, Clyde, Matakanui and the Maniototo.

The Alexandra turf would assist with the long distances Matakanui and Maniototo players travelled to play hockey at present, which was was “well over” the recommended travel times of New Zealand Hockey, Mrs Winter said.

The development of the Alexandra turf would also mean international hockey games and national hockey tournaments could be hosted in Central Otago, as the two Central Otago turfs would fit the required criteria of being only 20 minutes apart.

It was not yet known what kind of turf would be built, but it would be multi-purpose, able to also be used for other sports such as futsal, softball, athletics, touch rugby and cricket.

It was hoped the turf could be built by 2021, although this was dependent on funding, contractors and volunteer service, Mrs Winter said.

The Molyneux Turf Inc. committee had now begun a determined fundraising programme, to raise as much money as possible before applying for grants for the project. Sponsorship would also be sought.

A fundraising sports awards night was held last week, and the next big fundraiser would be a “Small Business Big Christmas Dinner” on November 30. Anyone with fundraising ideas or who could provide assistance for the turf project was encouraged to contact committee members.

“Together we can all do this. This turf is going to be an amazing asset for our sporting community if we all get behind it.”

PAM.JONES

@alliedpress.co.nz