Clubs protest decision to close courts mid-way through the basketball and hockey season

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THE summer basketball and night hockey season in Mundaring has been thrown into disarray after clubs were told this week to reschedule their fixtures or forfeit the final games of the season.

The Shire of Mundaring informed clubs that extensive upgrades to the Mundaring Hardcourts meant the facility would be unavailable from February 18.

Darlington Basketball Club president Sue O’Connell said the scheduling of the court upgrades had thrown the season into chaos.

“I have a lot of kids, coaches and team managers who are really upset about the timing of this decision,” she said.

“We were given just two days to consult with our teams and let the Hills Raiders Basketball Association know whether we would cancel the final games or play on a different day.

“We have one team of girls who are currently sitting second on the ladder and because of previous commitments they aren’t able to reschedule their games to a Saturday.

“It is absolutely unfair that they will miss out on playing the last three games of the season and lose the opportunity to play in the finals which they have worked so hard to make.

“It’s just ludicrous that the works can’t be delayed for three weeks.”

Mrs O’Connell said some teams would move to the Swans basketball comp next season as a result of the decision.

A Shire of Mundaring spokeswoman said the timing of the upgrades was linked to a federal funding grant.

“In December we were successful in acquiring $245,791 from the Federal Government under the Sport Australia’s Move It Aus – Community Sport Infrastructure Grant Program,” she said.

“This covers 50 per cent of the total cost of the project, however this funding must be spent before June 30, 2019.

“The timing was chosen for a number of reasons including the funding deadline for the project and that resurfacing of the courts requires fine weather.

“Leaving the project to start too close to winter would delay the project and have an even greater impact on the various sports.”

The spokeswoman said the project timeline had been set based on discussions between the Shire and the three main sporting groups.

“During these discussions it was established that the groups would experience some inconvenience but this was a trade-off for essentially being delivered brand new outdoor courts,” she said.

“Upgrading the Mundaring Hardcourts involves significant work including repairing and resurfacing all eight courts, maximising the run-off area for netball, basketball and hockey, new line markings, installing new poles and backboards for basketball and upgrading the floodlighting to LED lighting to a level of 500lux which is competition standard for all three sports.

“It is anticipated the project should be completed in April 2019 which will not impact the winter netball season at all.

“This was seen as the best compromise possible by the Shire and the associated sports.”

The Hills Raiders Basketball Association will hold a meeting tonight to finalise the options.

Darlington Diamonds basketball coach Peter Barney said his team would be devastated if the season was cancelled.

“I coach my daughter and her school friends who are one of the Under 12 teams in the competition,” he said.

“I received an email yesterday saying that the girls games would be moved for the rest of the season to a Saturday morning from a Friday night.

“If they can’t do that the rest of the season is cancelled.

“The girls are loving basketball and are really committed to the team and the fun they are having so they will be devastated if the games are all cancelled.

“Given the Shire have just had six weeks where no one played on the courts over summer I don’t understand why it was not done then.”

However the Shire should it was not possible to undertake the works over the summer holidays.

“The federal funding was only announced in December which meant there was not enough time to plan the project, secure contractors and suppliers before the construction industry shutdown over the Christmas /New Year break,” she said.

“The sporting associations have been working with the Shire on the upgrades for many years and have been kept up-to-date with the funding application last year as well as the recent funding announcement.

“The groups have been given the maximum time possible the Shire could provide given the variables and tight timeframes related to this project.”

The decision on whether players are offered a refund and how the finals will be run will be determined by each individual sport.

The courts will be closed are expected to reopen in mid-April 2019. The total cost of the project is $491,582.