Monday, July 22, 2024

Changing times for Maroochydore rugby

(Back row L to R) Division 4 Councillor Joe Natoli, Member for Fairfax Ted O’Brien MP, Queensland Sport Minister Stirling Hinchliffe and Sunshine Coast Council Mayor Mark Jamieson. (Front row L to R) Swans players Ruby McColl-Gardner, Saxony Walker, Georgia Shuttleworth, Swans President John Talbot and Leith Miller.

New change rooms at the Maroochydore Rugby Union Club have been officially opened, marking a special milestone for sport on the Sunshine Coast.

Maroochydore Swans Rugby Union Club Vice President, Megan Constable said the new facilities would encourage and support even more women to get involved in rugby union.

“In traditionally male-dominated codes like union, this type of progress is vital to attracting more female players, volunteers and supporters,” Ms Constable said. 

“Women’s rugby union is growing right across the Sunshine Coast and now both home and visiting players will have facilities to use before and after games thanks to the new change rooms.”

Swans President, John Talbot said the club’s senior women’s team originally launched back in 2004 with only 10 players, but was now 65 players strong, with dedicated female teams in the U13, U15 and U17 girls divisions as well as junior girls playing alongside boys in the junior teams. 

“We are proud to have experienced an influx of women and girls joining the game and this new facility will make a big difference to their playing experience in Maroochydore.” 

The new facility includes two change rooms with showers and toilets and one referees’ change room with a shower and toilet. A new unisex, accessible toilet has also been constructed. 

The $417,400 project was made possible thanks to a $157,400 Sport Australia Move It AUS-Community Sport Infrastructure grant from the Australian Government, a $150,000 Get Playing Places and Spaces grant from the Queensland Government, $85,000 from Sunshine Coast Council and $25,000 from the Maroochydore Swans Rugby Union Club. 

Sunshine Coast Council Mayor Mark Jamieson said council was pleased to partner with the Australian Government, Queensland Government and the Maroochydore Swans Rugby Union Club to fund and build the change rooms. 

“Our healthy, smart and creative region has become a women’s sporting mecca, as the home of Australia’s most successful start-up national league sporting club in the Sunshine Coast Lightning and success in attracting elite competition like the first-ever Women’s State of Origin in Queensland, held at the Sunshine Coast Stadium late last year,” Mayor Jamieson said. 

“Investing in infrastructure like these new change rooms is just one part of demonstrating our commitment to boosting participation by women and girls in community sporting clubs.

“Organisations like the Swans play an important role in fostering the next generation of professional athletes, along with encouraging more people to participate in physical activity and experience the associated health and social benefits.” 

Division 4 Councillor Joe Natoli congratulated the Swans committee for their determination and dedication in bringing the new building to life.

“These new change rooms are the result of many hours of hard work by club members passionate about women’s participation in rugby union,” Cr Natoli said.

“They have worked tirelessly since 2017 to secure funding and ensure the project’s overall success. Well done and I look forward to cheering on the Swans when the season starts up again in April 2021.” 

Member for Fairfax, Ted O’Brien MP was thrilled to see the new, dedicated change rooms opened.

“We’ve seen the number of female players in this traditionally male-dominated sport boom since the Aussie ladies won gold at the 2016 Olympics,” said Mr O’Brien who is the Prime Minister’s representative for the Olympics and Paralympic Games. 

“Rugby Union is the greatest game on earth, and the more women playing it here locally the better,” 

“These facilities are great news for the Swan’s female rugby union players and the Federal Government is proud to support it,” Mr O’Brien said.

Queensland Sport Minister, Stirling Hinchliffe said new facilities were changing the game for women and girls.

“Statewide, we’re seeing a big increase in the number of girls and women on the paddock playing sports that were traditionally the domain of boys,” Mr Hinchliffe said.

“Rugby Union in Queensland is experiencing a rise of more than 52 per cent in girls and women playing the game. 

“In the last year, the Palaszczuk Government has invested more than $11 million in 26 female-friendly sporting facilities.

“We know having a safe, comfortable place to change, prepare for games and celebrate with teammates after a win means a better playing experience.

“Women and girls are more likely to take up competitive sport, stick with it and excel when they have their own facilities.”

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