Media Release

SANFL report flags big need for ovals and facilities investment

2 July 2022

At least an extra 12 football ovals will be needed in South Australia by 2032 to meet the unprecedented growth in female football participation, according to a new report released by the SANFL.

The 2022-2032 SANFL Infrastructure Plan also has revealed that 80 per cent of football changeroom facilities across the State are currently of an inadequate standard for female players and umpires.

The 10-year Plan – the first long-term facilities plan to be undertaken by SANFL – identifies priorities for the improvement and development of football facilities, including player, umpire and spectator amenities, lighting and oval surfaces.

The provision of ovals is based on population and a ratio of participants per field, with the recommended benchmark of 175 club players to every oval (based on seven teams x 25 players).

Based on this ratio formula, the report reveals that seven of the 12 local government regions across the State currently have a severe shortage of oval space for football participants.

The report’s summary of regions found:

  • Southern Adelaide fares the worst with oval supply, with currently 449 players to every available football field in the region.
  • Western Adelaide – where football participation has increased the most in SA between 2014 and 2019 – has a 397 player-to-field ratio.
  • The Barossa region has one of the highest levels of inclusive player and umpire changerooms facilities, with 50% of all umpire changerooms and 36% of all player changerooms deemed female friendly.
  • In the Fleurieu region, where there was the greatest rise in female participation between 2014 and 2019 (1159% increase), only 20% of player changerooms and 8% umpire rooms are unisex.

SANFL Chief Executive Officer Darren Chandler said the report highlighted the continuing need for significant investment to support the growth and diversity of football in South Australia.

Mr Chandler said this was even more critical on the back of the AFL’s Women’s Football Vision, which is striving for equal female and male participation in football by the end of this decade.

Although welcoming the State Government’s commitment of more than $24.5 million to improving football facilities across the State, there was still much more to be done.

“We’ve come a long way with facilities and are working closely with clubs and local councils to get facilities projects off the ground,” Mr Chandler said.

“Projects such as the outstanding $10 million AFLW-standard Norwood Oval, and at a grassroots level the likes of the multi-use Summit Sport and Recreation Park at Mt Barker and recently completed redevelopment of Angas Recreation Park in the Barossa.

“It’s been fantastic to see these projects happening in the past couple of years, but we certainly still have a long way to go.”

Mr Chandler said in terms of oval space, SANFL also was working with State and local government, as well as other sporting organisations, to access oval space, particularly in and around the Adelaide metro area.

“Earlier this year we also welcomed the announcement by the SA Jockey Club of their desire to create two football ovals and unisex changerooms in the middle of the Morphettville Racecourse, and we look forward to working with all levels of government to make this a reality,” he said.

“But this report confirms there is still much to be done in the provision of appropriate facilities which cater for female players and umpires, increasing capacity at existing venues and identifying opportunities for new ovals to support increasing female teams.”

The full SANFL Infrastructure Plan 2022-2032 can be viewed below.

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