The State Government, SANFL and AFL have teamed up to deliver an $8 million funding program to benefit footy clubs and support the continued growth of the game as part of the legacy as the host State for AFL Gather Round.
An annual pool of more than $2.5 million over the next three years, plus an additional pool of $500,000 for smaller projects, will be available to Australian Rules footy clubs, local councils, umpire associations and schools or tertiary institutions through the new South Australian Football Facilities Fund.
Grants of up to $150,000 are on offer to support the delivery of major facilities projects, such as changeroom upgrades, lighting and construction of new ovals, with up to $50,000 available for smaller projects, such as goal posts and electronic scoreboards.
SANFL CEO Darren Chandler said the initiative would meet the continuing need for significant investment to support the significant growth and diversity of football in South Australia, with 65,000 playing participants across the State in 2023.
Participation in female football in South Australia has tripled since prior to the start of AFLW and SANFLW in 2017, with 8,644 female registered club players and more than 400 female teams in 2023.
SANFL CEO Darren Chandler
''From SANFL clubs to local grassroots community clubs, the fund will enhance the capacity of facilities and create welcoming and inclusive environments for all genders and all-abilities.''
Girls from the age of five participating in the entry level AFL Auskick program has also doubled in South Australia since 2016, with 2,866 female Auskickers in 2023.
“We’ve come a long way with facilities and have seen some fantastic projects undertaken over the past few years, however we still have 60 per cent of changerooms which are not of an adequate standard for female players and umpires,” Mr Chandler said.
“There is also a critical need to cater for increasing capacity at existing venues by improving the quality of ovals, lighting and infrastructure, as well as identifying opportunities for new ovals to support an increasing number of female teams.
“From SANFL clubs to local grassroots community clubs, the fund will enhance the capacity of facilities and create welcoming and inclusive environments for all genders and all-abilities.”
Today’s launch of the South Australian Football Facilities Fund follows the release of the SANFL Infrastructure Plan 2022-2032, along with the AFL Infrastructure Plan: Towards 2030 and the Office for Recreation, Sport and Racing planning strategies to deliver a targeted, strategic approach to investment in quality football facilities.
SANFL’s 10-year plan identified the need for 20 new ovals in greater metropolitan Adelaide by 2032 to meet the unprecedented growth in female football participation.
Minister for Recreation, Sport and Racing Katrine Hildyard MP said:
“Gather Round has brought visitors to our beautiful state and seen South Australians in their thousands flock to the footy and the incredible atmosphere and excitement it has created. It has also inspired greater participation in footy. We want local clubs and their communities to be enabled to respond to that growing participation and benefit from Gather Round in the long term.
“This funding program will enable them to do just that. It is the perfect vehicle for local sporting clubs and communities to grow and improve their facilities.
“With girls from the age of five participating in entry level AFL Auskick doubling since 2016 and 60 per cent of changerooms not up to standard, it’s fantastic that this funding can go towards improving facilities to help ensure they can continue to chase their footy dreams and know they belong and are welcome to equally and actively participate.
“Like many South Australians, I can’t wait for the next Gather Round and am so pleased that footballers in communities across the state will benefit from this Gather Round inspired funding program.”
AFL CEO, Andrew Dillon said:
“Following the first ever and hugely successful AFL Gather Round this year and the commitment to keeping the event in SA through to 2026, it is fantastic to strengthen our partnership with the South Australian Government and SANFL through the South Australian Football Facilities Fund.
“Gather Round does not just impact the elite game. In 2023 we saw how it uniquely engaged local football clubs and communities across the state and generated an excitement that can inspire future generations.
“The AFL is committed to supporting community football to ensure the game thrives. The $8 million funding program will help to leave a lasting, positive impact and provide South Australian local clubs and communities with facilities that support the game’s growth.
“Community football is the heartbeat of the game, particularly in a heartland football state like South Australia, and it is imperative that participants have access to welcoming, inclusive and fit-for-purpose facilities.
“I would like to extend my thanks to the South Australian Government and Premier Malinauskas for their vision and commitment to expanding football in the state. Working alongside the State Government and SANFL, the AFL is excited to see outcomes that can be generated through the first South Australian Football Facilities Fund.”
Applications for funding through the SA Football Facilities Fund can be submitted from 12pm on Monday, November 20. For more information about the fund and how to apply, visit www.sanfl.com.au/safacilitiesfund