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Lochinvar Rovers set to kick big goals

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The Lochinvar Rovers Football Club is set to kick some big goals after securing a massive windfall to improve its facilities.

The organisation recently picked up $150,000 through the NSW Government and NSW Football Legacy Fund to upgrade the lighting at the Lochinvar Sports Complex.

Maitland City mayor Philip Penfold showcases his football skills at Lochinvar. Photo: Rod Thompson

Maitland City Council submitted a grant application for funding back in October.

And, the latest announcement on Wednesday 25 January now means one of the state’s fastest growing clubs can provide better provisions to its large player base.

The enhancements will allow further opportunities to utilise the ground for longer periods in the darker months, increase the quality and accessibility of the fields, and amplify the experience for both participants and spectators.

Members of the Lochinvar Rovers Football Club and Northern NSW Football with Maitland City mayor Philip Penfold at the Lochinvar Sports Complex. Photo: Rod Thompson

“It’s a huge step in the right direction,” Rovers coaching coordinator Dan Cherry said.

“For the club, and with the growth we’ve had the past few seasons, this money is going to help us to move forward.

“We’re already short of lighting for night-time games; we’re at maximum capacity.

“This [funding] will enable us to use more of the grounds – and expand into the future.

“There’s the potential we could double our numbers with the amount of houses being built around us in the next three-to-five years.”

Young guns Taj Morrison, Cameron Seaton and Liam Seaton. Photo: Rod Thompson

Although thrilled to receive the financial handout, Cherry admitted more was required down the track.

“Unfortunately, like a lot of facilities, the feed into the grounds is not up to standard,” he said.

“So, money’s needed to improve other areas, such as better and female-only changerooms.

“Don’t get me wrong, this is definitely a bonus.

“We just had permanent sewerage connected, too, as opposed to septic… that’s a start.

“However, the more work we get done here, the more we can open the doors for other sports.

“We have AFL (Maitland Saints) training at the Lochinvar Sports Complex in the off-season.

“And, that’s what we want to encourage.

“That this ground is there for everyone to utilise.

“At the moment, cricket and football aren’t the only two sports in the world.

“We’re keen to attract additional codes [here] as well.”

The Moore family – Archie, Kaitlyn, Grace and Ava – at the Lochinvar Sports Complex. Photo: Rod Thompson

The evolution of the Rovers in recent times is nothing short of phenomenal either.

“From when we first came to Lochinvar, the club had about 165 players,” Cherry told the Newcastle Weekly.

“In 2022, we boasted 440 – and 45 teams.

“Of that participation figure, 37% are female-only sides, which is 10% above the Northern NSW Football average.

“There’s also a 50/50 ratio of men to women coaches within our ranks.

“That’s amazing for a small organisation, to have so many positive role models.

“But, the Rovers are more of a family than a club, people love playing here.

“Hopefully, for a little town that’s about to become bigger, we’ll continue to grow, too.

“So, the more funding we can gain, the better it’s going to be for everyone, especially Lochinvar, the players and the community.”

It’s game on at the Lochinvar Rovers Football Club. Photo: Rod Thompson

Maitland City mayor Philip Penfold said council “was doing what we can where we can”.

“The Rovers are one of the LGA’s great community organisations,” he explained.

“They’re providing terrific opportunities for girls and women in football.

“So, it’s fantastic to see the NSW Government come to the table to assist them.

“Improving infrastructure for our local sporting clubs is a priority of this council.

“That’s why this grant application was unanimously supported when it was raised back in October.”

The Lochinvar Rovers Football Club has experienced massive growth in the past few seasons. Photo: Rod Thompson

Northern NSW Football interim CEO Peter Haynes said inclusive facilities helped boost participation for females, too.

“Funding projects such as Lochinvar’s will significantly improve the experience of girls and women within our game, which is a huge win for our football community,” he added.

“As we begin the countdown to the FIFA Women’s World Cup, there is already an enormous buzz around the sport.

“So, this funding will assist local clubs to leverage the community’s excitement by running programs that will drive interest and, ultimately, participation in our code.”

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