With all eyes on women’s football as the AFLW draft takes place today, one club in Rutherglen, in Victoria’s north-east, says it has to deal with “outdated” change rooms where players “shower in their clothes”.
- Rutherglen’s Barkly Park change rooms have no closed doors hiding the showers and no barriers or doors separating them
- The Murray Felines Football Club wants Indigo Shire Council to submit a funding application for a state government grant to upgrade the rooms
- The council says advice it has received indicates it would be unsuccessful in a new grant application
The Murray Felines Football Club, which is made up of about 100 players from across the region, plays its home games at the local Barkly Park where there are no closed doors on showers in both change rooms.
There are also no barriers or doors separating each shower, and individuals who enter the rooms can see straight into the shower spaces.
Felines player Mietta Habets said the rooms were very old and not appropriate for the club’s player base.
“There’s one bathroom. The door doesn’t lock so you need a friend to hold the door, basically,” she said.
“The showers are facing the door to the clubrooms, so there’s no privacy.”
Club committee member Cooper Gabriel said the situation was a “joke”.
“They [the players] have to travel a long distance to get to a bathroom facility that accommodates the needs that they have during a game,” she said.
“Everybody is aware that it’s a problem — men and women, boys and girls.”
Club pushing for council support
The Murray Felines want Indigo Shire Council to submit a funding application for a state government grant that would help upgrade the change rooms, with only local government areas (LGAs) and alpine resort boards (ARBs) able to apply.
The grant application, which closes on July 12, provides funds of up to $1 million per LGA or ARB to progress female-friendly sporting facilities.
Murray Felines committee member Paul Somerville said the rooms were outdated, and the club had been discussing the funding matter with council for about six months.
“They basically have tried to push us down this second master-plan process, but really that’s just a way to kick the can down the road for another two or three years.
“We do have a master plan. We do have a concept plan. We do have a functional layout for what the change rooms could look like.
“The Indigo Shire [Council] could get on board quickly and make things happen if they really wanted to.”
Ms Habets said the lack of progress on the issue was frustrating.
“There’s lots of support for girls in sport and specifically girls’ football, especially in this region,” she said.
“It’s frustrating for the girls who play, for the parents, for the coaches.
Indigo Shire Council said it acknowledged the need to upgrade the change room facilities at Barkly Park and it was committed to working with the park’s committee of management and its user groups.
A spokesperson said council had received advice from the Local Sports Infrastructure Fund informing that a new funding application for Barkly Park upgrades would be unsuccessful due to funding from the previous round already being awarded to develop a site master plan.
“Council worked closely with the Barkly Park committee of management to secure the master-plan funding through the 2021/22 funding round,” they said.
“Design work could be carried forward to support future applications once the appropriate project scoping and preparation [master plan] has been completed.”
The spokesperson said the master-planning process was expected to be finalized by December 2022.