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New-look Darling Street Oval catering for growth of women’s football

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A new $3 million facility at Darling Street Oval is expected to provide “invaluable benefits” to the Newcastle Olympic Football Club.

That’s according to president George Sofianos, following the latest upgrade to the Hamilton South locale.

Replacing the original structure, which was erected in 1993, the building includes an innovative grandstand with gender inclusive changerooms, training and media rooms, as well as a canteen, medical area and separate referee amenities.

The tiered seating can accommodate 340 spectators with an increased number under cover, while the secure internal storage offers protection for sports equipment, which is used by more than 480 players.

“This new pavilion is a watershed moment for Newcastle Olympic as we approach our 50th anniversary in 2026,” Mr Sofianos said.

“We’re immensely proud that the club formed by a group of young boys of Greek heritage all those years ago has grown into one of the leaders in both women’s and men’s football in this region.

“Starting our women’s program in 2020 is one of the best decisions we have ever made.

“We’ve been the Club Champions in that division in four of the past five years.

“So, we’ve featured in every top-flight grand final in that time.

“Northern NSW Football has set a goal of having 30,000 female participants by 2026 and we’re well-placed to welcome newcomers to the club.

“This facility means Darling Street Oval will be one of the few football facilities in the area with four changerooms and match official rooms, all of which are female-friendly.”

The project, funded by City of Newcastle (CN), Newcastle Olympic and the state and federal governments, has delivered an inclusive and fully-accessible grandstand for passionate spectators, as well as male and female players.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the venture aligned with council’s Strategic Sports Plan.

“The provision of high-quality amenities within the new grandstand provides for greater female participation in sport,” she explained.

“CN is committed to investing in inclusive facilities that cater for the entire community. 

“The upgrade includes a lift and amenities for people with a disability on both levels, as well as accessible car parking and pathways to improve the approach to the grandstand.”

Newcastle MP Sharon Claydon MP said the facilities would be welcomed by the whole community.

“Newcastle Olympic has invested proudly in growing women’s football,” she stated.

“Now, they’ll finally have the facilities to support its female athletes from the most junior to the top-tier.

“The Albanese Labor government is delighted to partner with state and local government to support this development.

“It’ll help ensure women and girls find their feet in sport and hopefully remain engaged throughout their lives.”

Minister for the Hunter Yasmin Catley said the grandstand would be a well-used facility.

“You just have to look outside to know women’s sport is booming in the Hunter,” she added.

“These are top-class facilities for both men’s and women’s teams and their supporters.

“It’s fantastic to see all three levels of government work together with a sporting club to deliver a venue like this for Hamilton South.”

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