Q&A: Candidates reveal fixes to sports field squeeze

IN THE lead-up to the March 28 council election, The Gympie Times put a number of questions to the region’s candidates.

Today, the 30 men and women fighting for one of the nine seats on the next Gympie Regional Council reveal how they intend to tackle the lack of facilities for the region’s growing sports scene.

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All responses presented in divisional order, and in the sequence candidates’ names appear on the ballot papers.

Gympie Hammers player Owen Dugdale in action.
Gympie Hammers player Owen Dugdale in action.

Mayoral

Glen Hartwig

Investment needs to be made into providing fields for these growing groups.

In the meantime, council needs to mediate between parties to encourage them to work together so field space can be share.

Sporting tourism provides a great opportunity to inject money right into the pockets of the region’s business owners and give the clubs a chance to raise funds for their own use.

The Mayor should negotiate fair use for all.

Mick Curran

This issue can only be addressed by forward planning.

As a council we have already commissioned reports in regard to our future needs.

In this term we have made improvements to both the One Mile and Albert Park sporting precincts.

If Queensland is successful in the 2032 Olympic bid, we will have a tremendous opportunity to access funding to provide for better sporting facilities which can only enhance the facilities we currently have.

Tim Jerome

We only have so much allocated budgeted money.

Because I work with figures and budgets I believe that we can get the budgeted money for new sports fields from the money we spent on employees and materials and services.

We spent about 80 million on these two items, I believe we are way too top heavy.

I believe if we reduce employees at the top end and I am able to divert resources that we put in materials we can budget for things like new sports fields.

Gympie Devils Under-18s side running on to start the game. Picture: Shane Zahner
Gympie Devils Under-18s side running on to start the game. Picture: Shane Zahner

Division 1

Jess Milne

Physical activity creates healthy communities therefore provision of adequate playing fields is important.

Conduct an investigation of user need for the ‘squeezed’ sports and projected future space requirements with relevant groups/clubs.

Ensure detailed planning and design with user group engagement to enable grants to be sourced successfully.

Built functional over fancy and consider all multi use options to maximise investment of expansion.

Ash Little

The demand on existing sporting facilities will only increase as population growth continues. Before spending 18 million dollars on a multi sports facility it would seem reasonable to explore how existing facilities may benefit better from those funds.

Consideration to opening council owned land for additional facilities should be explored.

A cost analysis and feasibility study needs to be done.

What will bring most benefit to as many sporting groups as possible? When we have that answer we will know how to progress.

Mark McDonald

Identify why we have a so-called “sports squeeze” on playing fields.

While participation, fitness, and improved social skills are learnt on the sporting field our juniors do not necessarily transition to playing senior sports.

Phil Feldman

Several options are available including using vacant council land to develop playing space in more “suburbs” rather than centralising facilities.

Upgrade underused and un-used existing locations and refurbish existing facilities to minimise crowding and unsafe buildings.

By “spreading the facilities, I believe, that more community participation by all ages would result and focus around local community health & wellbeing.

Gympie Hammers women’s coach Glenn Gamble. Photo: Leeroy Todd
Gympie Hammers women’s coach Glenn Gamble. Photo: Leeroy Todd

Division 2

Dolly Jensen

I believe that Mr McPherson’s solution to shuffle will work in the short term.

I can’t really comment on anymore until we get in and see what is available and if there’s money to support a solution.

Leonora Cox

Negotiation between all clubs, grounds committees, and schools is the first step.

Identify where new grounds can be built or old ones improved (Recreation and Sports Strategy), and start saving.

Gympie Amateur Athletics members who competed at Regionals (back, from left) Amelia Garner, Molly Isaac, Kleo Isaac, Cooper Laycock, Mitchell Whittaker, Boaz Rogers and Levi Bourke. (Front, from left) Abby Rogers, Olive Isaac, Elana Rogers, Tyler Roberts, Chayce Roberts and Loghan Roberts.
Gympie Amateur Athletics members who competed at Regionals (back, from left) Amelia Garner, Molly Isaac, Kleo Isaac, Cooper Laycock, Mitchell Whittaker, Boaz Rogers and Levi Bourke. (Front, from left) Abby Rogers, Olive Isaac, Elana Rogers, Tyler Roberts, Chayce Roberts and Loghan Roberts.

Division 3

Mal Gear

Being a member of Albert Park Sports and Recreation Committee I have been involved with this issue for some time,

All groups need to engage and work together to try to accommodate all parties, common sense needs to prevail so all groups can use the regions facilities.

It will become a huge challenge for this to happen because numbers are growing in all junior sports.

Going forward we will need to talk to the two higher levels of Government about grants etc for a rugby precinct or an extra field or two that will accommodate the growing numbers, but this is probably still some years away so in the mean time all groups just need to work with each to get as many kids playing sport as possible.

Terry McMullan

I would explain that there is limited scope to provide fields for all sporting activities and that there can be huge benefits to clubs when working and building together.

I would assist different clubs with resources to join together and build sports clubs.

These resources may take the appearance of toilet/change room facilities or preference for grants or being supported by a club development program to assist clubs with their management and administration.

Shane Waldock

Sporting activities are an important part of our local community.

To address this issue of “sports squeeze” we need to listen to our local sporting clubs and look to innovative ways that playing fields can be used.

Due to the current status of council finances, I don’t believe a multipurpose sporting complex is possible in the near future without major Government funding.

Michiel Pratt

This issue needs an urgent review.

We need to have facilities where we can attract major competitions to the region as it not only benefits the sports community but also has flow on effects throughout our region.

We need to see what state and federal funding/grants are available to help us expand the current facilities or develop new facilities.

Colleen Miller

It’s difficult but I believe with collaboration from all sporting codes, that council can come up with a solution.

Short term, form a sports collective where codes can discuss their calendars and plan for usage.

Help clubs apply for grants to upgrade existing infrastructure – there are a lot of grants out there that encourage shared facilities between sporting codes.

Long term look at unused parcels of council land suitable for multi outdoor sports.

Gympie Devils under-18s halfback feeding the scrum. Picture: Shane Zahner
Gympie Devils under-18s halfback feeding the scrum. Picture: Shane Zahner

Division 4

Bruce Devereaux

Let’s look for the next area the region is set to expand into residentially and plan for and begin to build sports parks there.

Start with an oval or field and a clubhouse, and as developers move in and contribute, more can be added.

Might be Curra or Dagun or Goomboorian, but somewhere within a reasonable distance of Gympie itself.

Somewhere it doesn’t flood would be a nice change of pace too.

Rae Gate

Sport is important for many of our residents of all age groups.

Our current sporting fields are well used, some over used.

Some sporting groups have had huge growth in the past few years and are struggling to find field space.

Sporting grounds sharing is what is happening now but will not be the answer for long term use with continued growth.

The rugby league facility options analysis in 2019 gives a very clear picture that further fields are required.

Daryl Dodt

Sport and recreation are extremely important for health and community.

We are currently doing major work toward upgrading both One Mile and Albert Park.

Please check the council website (search Albert Park and open the master plan PDF).

Recent lighting of One Mile has greatly expanded the time that the fields can be used.

I will continue to maximise the existing while considering future areas for sports facilities.

Wayne Sachs

It is important that the region’s sports facilities are available to all community groups in a fair and equitable way.

There needs to be cooperative goodwill, facilitated by council, between clubs in relation to working collaboratively together.

Council also needs to look at the allocation of more land for the development of this purpose.

Gympie junior touch Under-7s team (back, from left) Danny Wilton (coach) Isla Mike, Loghan Roberts, Layla Albrecht, Aurara Cannon, Ivie-Rose Devlin, Ryker James, Hannah Mellor, Sophie Catlin, Summer Makin, Nate Walker, Maya Walker, Millie Stanton (Junior coach), (front, from left) Bade Verrills, Lewis Delisser, Amity – Rose Jorgensen, Ashtyn Tate, Zac Stiller, Lainey Buchanan, Summer Brunke, Bonn
Gympie junior touch Under-7s team (back, from left) Danny Wilton (coach) Isla Mike, Loghan Roberts, Layla Albrecht, Aurara Cannon, Ivie-Rose Devlin, Ryker James, Hannah Mellor, Sophie Catlin, Summer Makin, Nate Walker, Maya Walker, Millie Stanton (Junior coach), (front, from left) Bade Verrills, Lewis Delisser, Amity – Rose Jorgensen, Ashtyn Tate, Zac Stiller, Lainey Buchanan, Summer Brunke, Bonn

Division 5

Rob Burns

As Gympie has grown and our population is getting younger, I would suggest that our satellite regions be given better sporting facilities, this would give more of an attachment to your team and give the opportunity for a home game feeling.

Grand finals could be played at our major fields.

This would mean less travel for parents for training and encourage younger families to move to our smaller towns.

Dan Stewart

The current issue highlights shortcomings in the Albert Park and One Mile plans which neglected the needs of some sports.

First, Council needs to work with sporting clubs and grounds associations to be more cooperative.

If co-operation does not increase, then the management of sports grounds may need to change. Second, Council needs to work with clubs and associations to develop more fields and seek funding for this development.

Chelle Dobson

I am not very familiar with this problem.

A short term solution would be for Council to approach the various schools within the district to use their sport fields to accommodate the shortfall while a more comprehensive review of future requirements is conducted.

Gympie junior touch – VVA Engineering's Dylan Mathison going for a try with Wide Bay Chiropractic's Isaac Ronan making the touch. Photo: Zahner Photography
Gympie junior touch – VVA Engineering's Dylan Mathison going for a try with Wide Bay Chiropractic's Isaac Ronan making the touch. Photo: Zahner Photography

Division 6

Hilary Smerdon

I don’t consider the problem “sports squeeze” a big problem. I think the problem could be alleviated with some negotiation between some of the local clubs.

Council needs to facilitate this and act as a mediator to achieve a good result for all concerned.

Looking to the future I’m sure some suitable land can be identified and when funds become available to build necessary infrastructure to house all sports in this region.

Brian Thomas

I would address the problems of a sports squeeze on the regions playing fields in the context of the present state of the deficit’s budgets.

The incoming Mayor and councillors will have a better understanding of our budget and financial position.

I know there are needs for improvements to Goomeri’s swimming pool, local sporting clubs and playing fields.

This is the reason we should have a depreciation account and future fund, we can’t let all the debt go onto the credit card.

Mikki Lawson

We have a lot of sports fields in our outlying areas that are maintained by council but not used regularly, the teams could do a couple of away games every year out to the outlying communities, this would relieve congestion in the Gympie sports grounds and bring interest to these communities as well an economic benefits

Gympie Amateur Athletics Club – Kleo Isaac ready to compete at 2020 Sunshine Coast Regional Championships. Photo: Bec Singh
Gympie Amateur Athletics Club – Kleo Isaac ready to compete at 2020 Sunshine Coast Regional Championships. Photo: Bec Singh

Division 7

Donna Reardon

Our sporting and recreational associations need to be supported as they are the backbone of our community.

There is a major demand for more courts for volleyball, basketball and futsal just to name a few.

To address the problem, I would rally the federal and state government to seek funding.

Also it would be imperative to seek guidance for the format of the facility/complex from the hierarchy of those who will be using this facility/complex.

Bob Leitch

Through support of a thorough review of facilities that are available now, and then seeking what development leads to best suit all sports moving forward.

Although there has been work completed on this, we must be reminded that situations change.

Warren Polley

It’s a great problem to have to see so many sporting clubs growing in number.

It would seem a type of rostering system is needed to share the available space.

Gympie junior touch – 13-14 years Wide Bay Chiropractic's George Finger with the ball and VVA Engineering's Tate Verrills and Keely Jackson. Photo: Zahner Photography
Gympie junior touch – 13-14 years Wide Bay Chiropractic's George Finger with the ball and VVA Engineering's Tate Verrills and Keely Jackson. Photo: Zahner Photography

Division 8

Bob Fredman

The sports squeeze in Gympie is a question of the best use of assets.

All football sports need to sit down with the mayor and determine an equitable distribution of fields and time.

I also suggest that we should look wider than Gympie for solutions.

For example there is an excellent field at Kandanga that is under-utilised. Overall, it’s good there’s a problem – it means more participation in outdoor activities by our children.

Trent Mitchell

Although its not always ideal, a short term solution to this issue is to have home and away games as I know the sports field in our town (Kandanga) is often not being used as are many schools sports fields, this would boost the little towns and also give the players and supporters a chance to get out and explore.

Lyndall Ensbey

Firstly, by engaging all representatives of sporting bodies to gauge and determine the magnitude of the current “sports squeeze”.

If this is deemed necessary, we need to look at possible alternatives – are all sporting facilities being fully used efficiently?

Public and private school playing fields could be the most viable option for weekend or evening competitions with funds going back to support schools.

In the long term, investigate additional sporting space in the region.