Huge enthusiasm for sport is pushing Central Otago sports facilities to their limits.
At the Cromwell Community Board meeting last week Central Otago District Council parks and recreation manager Gordon Bailey presented a reserves supply and demand report from consultants Global Leisure Group (GLG). The CODC commissioned GLG to assess the present and future demand for sports fields in Cromwell.
Using information from sports clubs, population data and growth projections for various sporting codes, the report predicted another fullsize sports field would be needed this year, with three more needed by 2033.
After the meeting Cr Sarah Browne, who is also a trustee for the Central Otago sports turf trust and the Central football and multisport turf trust, told The News she would love to see a sports hub facility in Cromwell.
‘‘If we’re dreaming big I would love to see a hub facility like Balclutha.’’
Catering to the weather would attract the ‘‘fringe kids’’ who might be keener on sport if they did not have to contend with frost and ice on courts.
‘‘Let’s think big.’’
She came to New Zealand from the UK as a retired hockey player with no intention of playing again. Coaching junior high school pupils brought her back to hockey and now with four children ranging in age from 4 to 12 years old, her passion was to get them involved in sport.
Coaching, managing and helping with their teams was all part of her desire to get children active.
‘‘It’s a key driver. It’s really grounding for the kids to be part of team sports.’’
The report to the community board did not go nearly far enough, Cr Browne said.
‘‘There is a hell of a lot more out there in the general recreation area not just traditional team and field sport that we could be providing a lot more for our community and there’s a lot more demand than the report indicated.’’
It was possible there were opportunities for sports that did not exist in the area because there were not suitable facilities, she said.
One sport experiencing rapid growth in Central Otago was football.
Cromwell football coach Shane Norton said the sport was pretty lucky to have the Alpha St fields. However, the facilities there were not ideal as the showers were not functional.
With 14 teams in the adult league competition from as far away as Arrowtown, Hawea and Omakau, being able to shower after a match would make driving home more comfortable for those who travelled, Mr Norton said.
When the junior league played there on Sundays, there were hundreds of children there and it was a bit of a squash, he said.
In the senior league there were 14 teams this year and there would be 18 next year. It was one of the fastest growing sports in New Zealand.
While the junior league did need more space, the seniors just needed facilities, Mr Norton said.
Cromwell Community Board members pointed out inconsistencies in the report, including some missing sports codes, incorrect information about where some grades were played and the population estimates being based only on Cromwell town without including Queensbury or Tarras.
Mr Bailey said the report only covered grounds managed by the council, so excluded the golf club and hockey turf. Athletics was not assessed as the Cromwell club was formed after the report was commissioned.
The consultants had surveyed sports clubs and relied on the information they sent back, he said.
Board member Wally Sanford asked if the racecourse land could be used for sports fields in the future or if the council should be looking to buy land.
Mr Bailey said the council had been talking with the equestrian club which ran the racecourse about the future of horse racing and how to incorporate other sports into the area.
Some of the report’s 13 recommendations would be considered through the next long-term plan process and others through the racecourse reserve management plan process, he said.