Kyneton District Soccer Club gets funds for new pitch, three years after missing out in sports grants scandal

Three years after it missed out on federal government funding in a scandal-ridden sports grants program, the Kyneton District Soccer Club has received funding to upgrade its pitch.

But it is not from the federal government. The state government has committed $ 500,000 for the works.

Club president Ron Cole said the funding would go towards replacing the pitch, which is currently unusable during parts of winter.

“It will include the whole surface being taken off the pitch, both grounds being re-drained, irrigated, top dressed and resurfaced with new grass,” he said.

“At the start of June, we get heavy rain and basically after that ground chops up… we can’t train on it, we can’t play on it.

Ron Cole told a Senate inquiry that volunteers put countless hours into funding applications. (ABC Central Victoria: Jo Printz)

‘Devastating’ to miss out on grant

Mr Cole hit out at the federal government after the club missed out on a $ 470,000 federal sports grant, despite being considered by Sports Australia to be in the top 20 priorities.

The Kyneton District Soccer Club’s application for federal funding under the Community Sport Infrastructure Grant Program scored 87 out of 100meaning it was deemed in the 20 highest priorities by Sports Australia.

A group of female soccer players standing huddling on a muddy pitch.
Players say the ground becomes a “mud heap” and “chops up” easily during winter. (Supplied: Kyneton District Soccer Club)

“To have the money stripped away from us absolutely was absolutely devastating for all the people that put the hard work in,” Mr Cole said.

A senate inquiry into the misuse of funds heard from clubs including the Kyneton District Soccer Club, as well as then Minister of Sports Bridget McKenzie.

State Labor Member for Macedon Mary-Anne Thomas announced the state government funding for the upgrade.

A group of people standing looking at the camera, including soccer players and club volunteers
The state government is funding the $ 500,000 pitch upgrade. (Supplied: Mary-Anne Thomas)

But she said it should have been funded by the federal government.

“This is a club that was a victim to the Morrison’s government sports rorts affair.”

Mr Cole said the federal government never reached out after the saga.

“We were supposed to get feedback from Sports Australia… we haven’t had any feedback whatsoever apart from an email to say we weren’t successful.”

A picture of clubrooms at an oval
Macedon Ranges soccer players have had to move games to grounds hours away.(ABC Central Victoria: Jo Printz)

The Minister for Sport Richard Colbeck said 684 local sports projects have benefited from the Community Sport Infrastructure Grants Program.

“We have seen first-hand the positive impacts the program has been delivering for so many grassroots sporting organizations and local communities, including the Bendigo electorate.

“Across the three rounds, the Government funded five projects in the Bendigo electorate valued at $ 776,600.”

A ‘mud heap’ after winter rain

Mr Cole said for years the home ground had been useless for a large chunk of the season.

“We probably haven’t been able to train on the ground for the last four to five years, once we get that heavy winter rain,” he said.

In recent years the club has started trying to find inside alternatives for training and rescheduling matches so they can be played elsewhere, but this has also proved problematic, with a shortening of sporting facilities in the Macedon Ranges.

Moving games away from the home ground also hits the club financially.

“We lose canteen revenue; we lose the opportunity to be able to have fundraising events to create funds for the club,” Mr Cole said.

$ 100 million invested

Minister for Sport Richard Colbeck did not provide an explanation as to why the Kyneton club did not receive federal funding.

He said the government had invested $ 100 million in community sports infrastructure.

“Over the past year, a further $ 1.5 billion has been committed by the government to local communities through the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program.

“This program includes community sports facilities.”

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