Facilities out of play

Kyneton Football Netball Club players in the changing facility (supplied).

Zoe Moffatt

Kyneton Football Netball Club is calling for improvements to its “sheep shed” changing facility, which the president says is possibly the worst netball facility in the country.

Stepping onto a country netball court on the weekend is a feeling many are familiar with. It is not only a place to socialise and exercise, it is often the beating heart of the town.

For netballers in Kyneton this right of passage- synonyms with growing up away from the hustle and bustle of a major city- has been cast into doubt because of the state of the female changing facilities.

With mould on the walls, no showers, no hot water, no heating or cooling, no sanitary facilities and rats and mice everywhere, club president Hayden Evans believes Kyneton has possibly the worst netball facilities in Australia

“There just seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel,” Mr Evans said.

“We’ve got no showers, we’ve got no hot water, we’ve got an absolute lack of shelter for home and away sides… we have to provide marques for the players and coaches to stand under.

“We’ve got no heating and cooling, we’ve got nearly 100 girls sharing one court in a town of 6000 people.

“We have no sanitary facilities for the women in those rooms which is just painful to even talk about, that’s ridiculous.

“We’ve also got rats and mice everywhere, it’s a sheep shed basically.

“It’s a sheep shed that we share- once a year the council has an agricultural show- and our netballers have to share that space with the sheep.”

Speaking to 3AW on Monday, March 18, Mr Evans also spoke of the mould on the walls, which he said was painted over by Macedon Ranges council the day after.

“They painted over the mould the day after the story broke (on Tuesday) and they didn’t say anything to me,” he said.

“I’m a volunteer and it shouldn’t be up to [the club volunteers] to make sure that a council facility is safe.

“How do you go recruiting netballers and telling young girls to play at Kyneton- you’ll be sharing it with the sheep. It’s embarrassing.

“All we want is a temporary facility with hot water, heating and cooling so the girls aren’t standing out in the rain or breathing in mould. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.”

Northern Victoria MP Wendy Lovell shared this view and raised the issue in Parliament on Tuesday, March 19, calling on the government to provide funding for a temporary facility.

“[These] netballers… currently have to get changed in a sheep shed with no showers, which is infested with rats and has mould on the walls,” she said.

“Macedon Ranges council has adopted a masterplan to upgrade Kyneton Showgrounds, which includes new netball courts and change facilities, but an objection lodged to parts of the plan has put progress on pause.”

With the netball season about to begin, Kyneton Football Netball Club will be entering its first under-13 team in the comp, which will mean greater demand on the changing facility.

Macedon Ranges council assets and operations director Shane Walden agreed the existing netball facilities at Kyneton Showgrounds are not what players expect or deserve.

“That’s why council has been pushing for some time… for external funding to support its redevelopment,” he said.

“We’ve been taking all the necessary planning and design steps to get a proposed redevelopment started as soon as practical.”

Mr Walden said a member of the public objected to the redevelopment design, which would require the removal of 10 trees.

“The objection was due to be heard at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) this year, however we are awaiting advice from VCAT as to whether the original permit is still required…. [following an] amendment to the broader planning scheme.

“We believe the permit is no longer necessary as a result [and] will have a better idea of construction timelines and next steps once this is resolved with VCAT.”

Mr Walden also said officers proactively identified a mould issue as part of seasonal changeover inspections earlier this month, and it was addressed.

Mr Evans said the club understands the new project team at council has done a sensational job trying to deliver the project.

“They have had local lobby groups and red tape standing in their way and that is not our issue. [It] is the fact… these conditions… aren’t suitable and that’s why we are not standing for these sub par facilities any longer.”