QUEENS Park has emerged as a surprise choice to become the home of soccer in Western Australia, with politicians of both persuasions pledging support to build a state football centre at little-used Maniana Park.
The football centre would serve as the administrative base for Football West, could be a training ground for Perth Glory’s men’s and women’s teams and would be capable of hosting touring international sides.
It would additionally act as a home for a new National Indigenous Football Centre of Excellence and Football West’s inclusive and Para football programs.
Swan MHR Steve Irons and his Liberal Party colleague Senator Linda Reynolds started an online petition last week calling for the centre to be built in Queens Park.
The petition has currently been signed by more than 2200 people.
Queens Park the ideal location
Football West chief executive James Curtis said it was time the sport got the facilities it deserved.
“This is about making sure the football community gets the facility it’s been wanting for 120 years. We’re very pleased the support has come through, it’s about getting this done and doing the right thing,” he said.
“We want to make sure we’ve got a facility able to support the likes of Chelsea or Manchester United, but also have a local community be able to access the facility.”
Previously, Ashfield had been considered the ideal home of such a facility, with Burswood and the western suburbs at one stage among the candidates.
However, Mr Curtis said Queens Park was a football hotbed and the large space offered by Maniana Park, coupled with its proximity to Perth, meant it was the perfect location.
“For the last two years, we’ve focused on making sure we’ve got a facility that is going to fit, going to work with the local community and make sure it meets our needs. Queens Park came up as the strongest case,” he said.
“It is still very central when it comes to the Perth metropolitan area and it’s also got a great football following within the community.
He said discussions with the State Government and the City of Canning were ongoing but positive.
Election promise: Labor puts money on the line
This morning Swan Labor candidate Hannah Beazley put election money on the line, promising Labor would contribute $10 million towards construction costs if it wins this year’s Federal election.
“There has been an unprecedented growth in the number of people playing soccer, both in our local community in Swan and across the State,” she said.
“Western Australia has been lagging behind the rest of the country when it comes to soccer facilities for many years.
“This Centre will mean that WA can host State League and National Premier League matches, as well as international games.”
Football West has encouraged WA’s soccer community to sign the petition via a newsletter to its subscriber base.
Mr Irons said developing Maniana Park was a great opportunity for the sport and for Queens Park.
“Football West is the only major sporting code in WA without an administrative home and is seeking a new home,” he said.
“I am fighting on behalf of the local community for this investment to benefit Queens Park.”
Soccer now a game of political football
The long-desired Football Centre of Excellence became something of a political football during the State election in 2017, with then Premier Colin Barnett pledging to build it in Ashfield if he were re-elected.
That plan was consigned to the scrapheap when Labor, which did not match the pledge, won government.
Football remains the top participation sport in WA with more than 230,000 registered players and registration for Football West competitions has grown 45 per cent since 2006.
Mr Irons said Maniana Park represented a fantastic opportunity for the Queens Park community and compared the possibilities to the West Coast Eagles’ new headquarters in Lathlain.
“The large Maniana Recreation precinct is a well-located site and provides a great opportunity to develop new world-class recreation facilities accessible to the whole community, including much needed facilities for girls and women’s sport, and conduct much needed environmental improvements to the large site, including the former defence land,” he said.
“The Lathlain Park Development shows the significant benefits to the community of hosting an administrative base for a major sporting code.
“It has seen a $60 million investment in the local community, with world class facilities that can be accessed by the whole local community, community education and recreation facilities, along with new homes for charitable organisations.”