Willetton Basketball Association on hunt for funding

Minister for Sport Greg Hunt and Tangney MHR Ben Morton take to the courts at Willetton.
Minister for Sport Greg Hunt and Tangney MHR Ben Morton take to the courts at Willetton.

WILLETTON Basketball Association opened its courts last week to Federal Minister for Sport Greg Hunt in a bid to get much needed Commonwealth funds to make its $11 million expansion plans a reality.

Tangney MHR Ben Morton joined Mr Hunt and explained why the association needed a $5.5 million commitment from the Commonwealth.

The association wants to double the stadium from four indoor courts to eight and construct associated infrastructure including change rooms, offices and meeting rooms.

While Mr Hunt would not be drawn on whether funding would be allocated to the project, he told association members that relentless lobbying was indispensible to their cause.

“You need two things: you need a really strong community base and case, which you have got; and a partner in terms of your representative who is going to say ‘I don’t care if I upset people, I am just going to make it that they have just got to find a solution’.”

He said he would work with Mr Morton on finding a solution but it would not happen overnight.

Mr Morton said the current four-court stadium was stretched beyond capacity, with more than 150 kids on the waiting list wanting to play.

“I’m hoping there might be a bolt hole in the existing budget where we can find the funds,” he said.

“I’m really confident, putting politics aside, if we can get a federal government commitment to this project, that between the association, the council and me there would be enough motivation for the State Government to make this project happen,” he said.

Recently the City of Canning announced a commitment of $2.2 million towards the proposal subject to it receiving government funding and the association has raised $800,000.

Association life member Marcus Langshaw said members had campaigned for expansion of facilities since 2009.

Mr Langshaw said he was frustrated with how long it was taking to make the project a reality, but hoped something would happen soon.

“We have known for a long time our facility here can’t cater for the demand we have got in the district.

“We have been trying to do an expansion for probably the last eight to nine years.

“We are geared up to commence the project as soon as we get the necessary funding in place.”

He said the association was using its own venue as well as three satellite venues in which to play its games and there weren’t enough facilities to accommodate the training needs of all association teams.