Collingwood Basketball Association court plan gets Greens’ green light while Labor dribbles support without dollars

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Melbourne Leader: Collingwood Basketball Association court plan gets Greens’ green light while Labor dribbles support without dollars. Nic Price. 3 November 2014

Young basketballers practise at Collingwood College facilities. Picture: Martin Reddy

A new three-court indoor sports centre would be built at Collingwood College — for club and community use after hours — under a $10-12 million plan from the Collingwood Basketball Association.

The Greens have promised $10 million for the development if they are in a position to deliver it, while Labor pledged to work with the association, but did not commit funds.

The association’s operations manager Megan Rouse said it was turning players away because of a critical court shortage in Yarra and said the centre would allow more players — many of whom live in public housing — to train and play locally.

“Each season we think we’re at an absolute maximum and then we grow again. We’re turning people away every week and we have to train five teams on one court,” she said.

“The club is a great melting pot. Through sport kids form these great friendships across all backgrounds and cultures.”

The two-storey centre would also be available for netball and other indoor sports and Ms Rouse said the club was seeking support from all levels of government and philanthropists.

Greens candidate for Richmond Kathleen Maltzahn said the proposal would benefit Collingwood College, which was battling negative perceptions.

“The school, which does a really great job in old facilities, will have a new facility to use for sport, performing arts and generally as a community space,” she said.

To address the growing need for more indoor courts Yarra Council has pursued a roughly $35 million, eight court facility at the former Gas and Fuel site on Alexandra Pde. The council has put aside $3 million to partly fund the centre and aims to boost that in coming years.

However, the government-owned site would be required until at least 2019 if the East West Link goes ahead. Richmond state Labor MP Richard Wynne said Labor would scrap the tunnel if it won power which would release­ the land.

Mr Wynne said he was interested in both the Collingwood College and Gas and Fuel proposals, especially if there was a delay relating to the Gas and Fuel site.

“The area is significantly under-resourced for netball and basketball,” he said.

Sports Minister Damien Drum’s spokesman Shannon Gill said the government had not received a funding application from the council, but was “broadly supportive” of projects to increase participation in sport.

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