Sunday, June 23, 2024

Women at heart of Inner West Council plan for famous oval

Inner West Council Mayor, Darcy Byrne says the Council’s vision for the future of the iconic Leichhardt Oval is as a women’s sporting hub.

If Leichhardt Oval is renovated and saved it will become a hub for women’s sport including soccer, rugby league and rugby union at the professional, grassroots and junior levels, said Mayor Byrne.

“Saving Leichhardt Oval is an opportunity for governments to deliver the dedicated new facilities needed to match the massive growth in women and girls’ participation in sport at all levels,” the Mayor said.

He said speculation about whether Leichhardt will receive fair funding for a renovation has so far focused on the Wests Tigers NRL club’s use of the ground, but making a home for women’s and girl’s sport is the centrepiece of Council’s Leichhardt Oval Masterplan.

The Mayor said female sporting organisations across Sydney and Australia would gain the biggest benefit of saving the ground with a goal of 50% of all sporting fixtures to be women’s sporting teams.

“Of course, we want to keep Wests Tigers playing at the eighth wonder of the world but our vision for the future of this famous ground is as a women’s sporting hub,” Mayor Byrne said.

“Leichhardt Oval is already hosting a massive range of women’s sport and that will increase if the ground is renovated and saved.

“Eight of the FIFA women’s world cup teams trained at Leichhardt last year, including the Spanish team holding their captain’s run there before winning the final.

“This year the Sydney FC Women’s team have made Leichhardt their home ground and the atmosphere at their games has been sensational. We want to make Leichhardt their permanent home too.

“The Wests Tigers NRLW team is playing two games there this year in addition to the five games the men’s team is playing at the ground.

“Of the 120 sporting fixtures already scheduled this year at Leichhardt Oval 30 are women’s games and we can drive that number up further.

“That’s why installing modern, female friendly change rooms is the highest priority of the Leichhardt Oval Masterplan.

Women’s sporting teams that have played at Leichhardt Oval in recent years include:

  • Sydney FC
  • The Matildas (training)
  • NSW Waratahs women
  • 8 FIFA women’s world cup teams (training)
  • Wests Tigers NRLW
  • A variety NRLW teams including hosting multiple NRLW finals games
  • International rugby league test matches, including PNG, Samoa, Tonga and Fiji
  • An annual female festival of football for junior soccer clubs.

A $50 million deal between the Australian Rugby League and Federal Government for the restoration of the oval was flagged in media reports yesterday.

It has not been confirmed by the Federal Government at this stage.

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