Bundaberg Olympian and Commonwealth Games swimmer Michele Pearson has welcomed the opening of the purpose-built female friendly $1.5 million sports facility at The Waves.
The facilities enable the use by both male and female participants, but add more privacy compared to previous changerooms.
The official opening took place this evening Thursday, 24 October, with The Waves president Gary Black saying the $1.5 million project, supported by a $500,000 State Government grant would further support and enable junior and senior women throughout the Wide Bay region to participate and thrive in a variety of outdoor sports.
Mr Black said the new facilities were a first for Bundaberg, and offered females not only more privacy but also more security and helped lower the risk of intimidation.
“We are helping to bring back the privacy. Everyone has a camera in their pockets these days and you never know if you are safe or not,” he said.
“Our mission statement is to give back to the community and these facilities enable us to do that.”
Olympian supports new female-friendly facilities
Ms Pearson is an Australian former medley and freestyle swimmer of the 1980s, who won a bronze medal in the 200-metre individual medley at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.
Looking back at her time when she competed in sport at an international level, Ms Pearson said the new facilities at The Waves were “far more superior” then she ever had, from the size to cleanliness, the facilities ticked all the boxes.
“In the changerooms back then it was all open and now there are cubicle showers, which is wonderful,” she said.
“This will help get more females participating in sport, before and after work, to give them a more comfortable place to change – it just encourages them more to participate.
“These are really lovely and essentially a nice place to chill after the game and cool down.”
Facilities encourage more females
The Waves chief executive Brendan Royall agreed with Ms Pearson saying the new facilities would help raise the number of females in sports across the Bundaberg Region and believed the new design allowed for better understanding of the needs of the whole community.
“Female participation in sports is increasing, we see it growing year-on-year,” Mr Royall said.
“For senior females we’ve seen growth in football in all codes from AFL, soccer and rugby in recent times. And these facilities will help these sports grow more into the future.”
The Get in the Game Female Facilities Program aimed to assist sport and recreation organisations to develop functional and inclusive female change rooms and amenities that met the current and future needs of sport and recreation participants.
Mr Royall said the cubicle style showers were one of the main differences in the facilities that would allow for more privacy compared to current sports change rooms.
The Waves move with the times
Across The Waves Ladies Bowls president Kay Mason attended the opening. She said the new facilities were “absolutely fabulous” and it was nice to see The Waves were moving with the times.
“We are a feeder club and are here representing the bowls, it is really wonderful to see these facilities and I believe it will encourage more women to take up sport,” Mrs Mason said.
“I've never been one to watch female sport, and I have just recent started and can I say they are all damn good and it's great to have these facilities here to support local sportswomen.”
Bundaberg Regional Councillor Ross Sommerfeld also attended the opening evening and said it was great to see The Waves putting money back into the community.
“They are very supportive of all their sporting clubs, and are really one of the backbones to our community,” he said.
“It's good for sports and clubs to have a home and wonderful to see these facilities here.
“It's a good use of the land and as they improve it, it will become a very big draw card for sport right in the middle of town, with Norville Pool down the road and it's very accessible with Kay McDuff Drive.”
The Waves 10-year masterplan
The female-friendly sports facilities are part of the The Waves 10-year Sports Complex Masterplan, a project that includes multiple thoughtfully-planned female-friendly changerooms (designed to cater for any gender, age or ability, referred to as universal design), female-friendly referee rooms and a parent’s room.
Mr Royall said the development was forecast to increase traffic and revenue to the local economy, and when tested earlier this year during the 2019 Queensland Independent Secondary Schools Rugby League (QISSRL) Confraternity Shield it had great results.
“This development was forecast to increase traffic and revenue to the local economy, and it’s already achieving exactly that, as seen with the 2019 Queensland Independent Secondary Schools Rugby League (QISSRL) Confraternity Shield which saw over 5000 visitors arrive to the region and make good use of our fields and these new amenities during that week,” he said.
Mr Royall welcomed the community, especially females who may considering taking up a sport, to head along to the Thabeban Road Sports Complex to check out the new facilities.
“We have invested over $1 million into sports and sub-clubs in the local area, and $62,000 into non-affiliated clubs, including schools.” he said.
“I’d just like to encourage people to view the facility and experience what we have to offer the local community.”
- Earlier report: Female-friendly sports facilities to open at The Waves