Deakin dilemma remains

August 03, 2017

Supporters wanting to watch GVL grand finals continually have to compete for space. Pictured are the fans watching last year's B-grade final between Kyabram and Seymour.

Mercy Stadium could potentially be used as a venue for the GVL grand final, ensuring enough cover for spectators on a drizzling September day as seen during last year's preliminary final.

The soil has been turned to begin the installation of new female changerooms at Deakin Reserve.

The announcement the facilities would be built was made almost a year ago to the day, with construction beginning at the back of the grandstand.

The designated completion time is meant to be before the Goulburn Valley League grand final with netballers and female footballers to have two changerooms, toilets, showers and an administration room.

It means they can move away from the toilet block next to the netball courts that serves spectators and players alike and is not adequate for a normal Saturday when eight netball teams are needing to get changed and prepare.

As well as bags and equipment being strewn around the court, now there will be dressing rooms for storage as well as a chance to be out of the weather.

In last year’s preliminary final, Kyabram and Euroa were forced to wait in the rain or huddle under the officials marquee while waiting for extra time in the B-grade to finish.

But despite the improvements, there is still no place to warm-up at the place chosen to host the grand final, as unlike at many grounds across the Goulburn Valley, Deakin Reserve has just the one court.

Kyabram netballers have this year gone for a warm up jog along the footpath on Skene St with no other place to prepare.

Practicing circle work or centre pass structure is out of the question with a ring on asphalt the only place allowing for shooting practice.

With not even enough space for players, spectators are having to fight for spots to watch the game.

The issues always arise on grand final day due to the large amount of spectators, but is a problem all year round especially with co-tenants Shepparton and Shepparton United in brilliant form.

At Shepparton versus Benalla last Saturday people were again standing behind the single row of seats that overlook the court from above.

The only benefit of standing in that position is that it allows you to turn around around easily when a raucous cheer goes up in the football and you can stay on top of the scores in both sports.

Courts such as those at Kyabram have a simple, yet affective approach to spectator seating with their concrete tiers packing in two levels of spectators as well as allowing anyone standing behind to have a clear view of the court with the playing area not as sunken as at Deakin.

It is too simplistic to move the grand final to a different ground where seating is more adequate, when the idea is to keep the netball and football together to promote greater atmosphere and club unity.

But it is a difficult concept to fix given the lack of space at Deakin Reserve as it backs onto Notre Dame College.

Is there a premise to move the grand final to Mercy Stadium?

By no means is this ideal given most people want to stay across football and netball, especially given that often a club has sides competing in both.

But at least there is room for spectators with the tiered seating, changerooms and an entire court for teams to warm up and even just congregate for a meeting in preparation for their biggest match of the year.

Its entrance is a matter of metres away from Deakin, allowing players and supporters to pop back to the football ground whenever they need.

An indoor match is a consideration with the competition factoring in who can best adapt to weather conditions, evident with the wind making shooting difficult on Saturday.

But if both sides have the same benefits, there is no difference.

The indoor courts provide a luxury, it’s not the opposite situation where a team used to playing at stadiums is sent to contend with outdoor elements causing havoc.

The change may even draw more more people to the game with the promise of some undercover shelter with September weather unpredictable.

The installation of the new changerooms will make Deakin Reserve a more accommodating and professional place for the best netballers in the region.

The rooms will get plenty of use from all the netballers as well with the Northern Country Women’s Football League on.

But the outdoor seating and lack of a warm-up space has been a problem for a number of years and a solution is still yet to come from governing bodies.

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