Dubbo to be home to $44.5 million Western Region Institute of Sport

The Western Region Institute Sport is set to have a huge benefit on the numerous sports across regional NSW, with the $44.5 million facility was announced on Tuesday. 

EXCITEMENT: Stakeholders from various sports and community groups with NSW deputy premier John Barilaro (fourth from right) at the proposed site on Tuesday. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE

EXCITEMENT: Stakeholders from various sports and community groups with NSW deputy premier John Barilaro (fourth from right) at the proposed site on Tuesday. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE

Planned to be completed within three years, the precinct based at the Charles Sturt University campus will be a centre of excellence and hub for numerous sports while also offering educational benefits and a wellness centre.

There will be a 10-court multi-sport facility suitable for netball, basketball, gymnastics, indoor hockey and cricket training, while tennis courts and facilities for rugby league and rugby union will also be on offer.

Administrative centres for the numerous sports will also be housed at the institute.

There is also the option of future development, with a FIFA standard synthetic football pitch and 24 more outdoor courts a possibility.

It will also have a significant impact on other sports in Dubbo, with a top-class velodrome and 1km criterium track for cycling also to be built at the new location.

That will make it possible for No. 1 Oval to improve as a cricket ground while also potentially becoming a location for Australian Rules games.

Deputy premier John Barilaro, local member Troy Grant, and a huge number of stakeholders from the various sports were on hand on Tuesday, and each said not only is this a major development for Dubbo, but it will have a much wider reach as well.

“Dubbo won’t just be on the map in NSW, but globally shortly and that is exciting," Barilaro said.

General manager of NRL club Penrith Panthers, Phil Gould, and the club’s high performance manager Matt Cameron were on hand for the announcement, as was proud Dubbo junior and former Australian player Andrew Ryan.

Tennis NSW Head of Tennis Operations, Chris Woodland, as well as local identities from rugby union, cricket, netball, basketball, and many more sports were also at CSU.

Gould spoke in glowing terms about the institute and the importance of sport in regional areas.

One of the biggest things he, and many others, spoke about on Tuesday is how valuable it will be to keep talented athletes from the western area in their home region, rather than having to make the move to Sydney.

“To be able to leave kids in their country home and their country school with their mates but still have the best of facilities and the best of coaching so they feel like they can compete, the more we can do that the better,” he said.

Gus McDonald, representing NSW Rugby, said something similar.

“Our pathways currently, you go through country juniors and then everything leads to Sydney and I know our Gen Blue, our pathways program for thew Waratahs, could easily be run at a facility like this,” he said.

“This best thing is we can get kids from out west in here and we can run exactly the same things as we would in Sydney.

“It’s exposing them and opening them up to high performance and to what the Waratahs do.

“That training, and coach education and referee education and things like this are not just for the players are kids, the support that we can give country rugby has grown a lot bigger.”

McDonald said something like this was much needed for his sport, and Tennis NSW’s Woodland said the same went for his sport.

The proposed tennis courts will be the only ones outside of Sydney which could host national and international events.

“New South Wales doesn’t really get its fair share of national and international events because there is only one venue in the state that can hold it, and that’s Ken Rosewall (Arena),” Woodland said.

“There is a real opportunity to provide some international lead-up events but we just haven’t had the venue.”

Claire Hargreaves of Dubbo Basketball Association said her sport now had the ability to take the next step.

“We’ve got 217 kids on a Friday night and we can’t grow any bigger because we don’t have the facilities to match it,” she said.

“We’ve got to use to soccer fields outside for the real little ones because there’s just no room. Now to have this is phenomenal.”

The process of designing the facility is already underway. The institute will be built in two stages with construction starting as soon as May 2019.

This story originally appeared in the Daily Liberal

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