Sports hub push

Macedon Ranges indoor courts are beyond capacity and locals are calling for action on the regional sports hub plan.

Macedon Ranges indoor courts are beyond capacity and locals are calling for action on the regional sports hub plan.

Sports clubs and community groups are calling on the Liberal federal government to deliver on its 2016 election commitment in support of a Macedon Ranges regional sports hub.

The government promised $100,000 for the planning, business case and feasibility study for the proposed facility to address outdated facilities that have reached capacity.

In August last year the Minister for Regional Development, Senator Fiona Nash, confirmed the commitment would be honoured but, six months on, Member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters said there was still no clarity.

"This is a project this community desperately needs. The grassroots support and passion behind it is overwhelming.

"The minister needs to clarify exactly when this funding will be received so this project can begin to move forward," Ms Chesters said.

The campaign for a centrally located regional sports hub with six indoor multi-use courts has been a 10-year push but support from clubs and community members has been unwavering.

Hub spokesperson Allan Spencer-Stewart said the two new courts that opened at Gisborne 12 months ago were already at capacity.

"It shows how much of a backlog there is. This hub is really exciting because it's not about just doing piecemeal projects and trying to catch up - it's about setting up our region," he said.

There is interest in a new futsal training academy for up to 2000 children but limited availability of facilities has held the project back.

For similar reasons junior and regional volleyball competitions for Woodend and Riddells Creek have been put on hold.

Macedon Ranges Basketball Association's Megan Condron said there were 60 junior basketball teams travelling outside the shire every Saturday because there was nowhere in the Macedon Ranges to hold a competition.

"We can't run the competitions that the community needs," she said.

"Girls' sport in the Macedon Ranges is also suffering because of it. They play in mixed competitions and research shows that mixed competitions don't retain girls playing into their teenage years."

Hub spokesperson Tamara Collins said the Under 14 Basketball Victoria Country Championships held over one weekend in Shepparton is estimated to have brought $2 million to their economy.

"There is currently nowhere big enough in the Macedon Ranges for us to put our hand up to host something like that," she said.

"Imagine the economic benefits it could have."

It's not just sporting groups keen to see a regional hub properly explored. Schools and community groups in the district have also flagged their interest in using the space for concerts, functions and meetings. More than 2000 people have joined social media groups in support of the hub.

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