Mooroolbark makeover

Jai and Cooper from the under 10's enjoying training at the new upgraded facilities at Esther Park Mooroolbark 235677_03

By Mikayla van Loon

Mooroolbark’s very own Esther Park has been revamped with a number of upgrades happening in the last few months and was officially opened on Thursday 22 April.

As part of the State governments Growing Suburbs Fund, Esther Park received $1.25 million in the 2018-19 period for the development of new soccer pitches.

The new floodlit pitches formed part of the $5.4 million upgrades to the facility, including a new pavilion, which received funding from the state’s 2018-19 Female Friendly Facilities Fund, the Federal government and Yarra Ranges Shire Council.

As Esther Park is home to the Mooroolbark Soccer Club, Barkers president Simon Scott said the club had been struggling to retain players because of the poor facilities they had prior to the upgrades.

“Around the area, we probably had the worst facilities pitch wise and we lost players due to the conditions of the old pitches, so with the new pitches we’ve had an abundance of younger kids come through,” Mr Scott said.

Mr Scott said the soccer club is now at capacity in terms of teams and said in total they have 24 teams playing, ranging from senior mens and womens to boys and girls under 8s, as well as 40 to 50 mini roos teams.

The new pavilion facilities have been revamped to include female-friendly changerooms, something that is being done across various sports to ensure girls teams feel just as supported as the boys.

“They’ve been fully supported. We’ve got a group of girls who have been with us a long time so they’ve seen the change in all of it and especially from day one when they just had the mens facilities and a big open shower block, to what it is now with it more female-friendly. Everyone loves the new facilities, males, females and all the junior kids,” Mr Scott said.

Local government minister Shaun Leane said the new facilities were part of crucial infrastructure for the local community.

“It’s great to see the Growing Suburbs Fund supporting a much-needed facility like this that caters for women and girls in sport and offers great opportunities for everyone who loves soccer in the eastern suburbs,” Mr Leane said.

Federal member for Casey, Tony Smith attended the official opening and said it was great to help open these first class facilities.

“Importantly, the new pavilion will help cater for an ever-increasing number of female players and teams,” he said.

Inside the pavilion, an updated kitchen and social space has also been included, as well as dedicated toilets for men, women and an all accessible bathroom.

Mr Scott wanted to thank the committees that helped get the upgrades started and the Yarra Ranges Shire Council for supporting the project.