Gunner’s juniors Byron and Kiara Perry cutting the cake with Clarence Valley mayor Jim Simmons and Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis looking on. Image: Contributed

Lights, soccer, action

With a flick of a switch the Rushforth Park soccer fields in South Grafton have become more accessible to hundreds of players of all ages.

Last Thursday (February 28) Clarence Valley mayor, Jim Simmons, Member for Clarence, Chris Gulaptis and Soccer North Coast general manager, Paul Ninness, joined dozens of enthusiastic junior players to turn on new lighting at the fields – lights Mr Ninness is confident will lead to an increase in player numbers.

The previous lighting only allowed for one night game to be played at any time, but Mr Ninness said the new lights would allow for three games to be played simultaneously.

“Five clubs can now do night training there now, so it will be a great help with building participation,” he said.

“The community can now utilise the facility to the full extent.”

The lighting was funded through a NSW Government Stronger Country Communities Fund grant of $301,000 and NSW Government Asia Cup Legacy Fund grant of $117,000 with in-kind support, project support and administration provided by the Clarence Valley Council.

Mr Gulaptis said the whole community benefitted when local government worked in partnership with government on behalf of residents.

“This is about delivering the social infrastructure I am so passionate about,” he said.

“The council and I want to make sure locals have the best possible infrastructure and services, and these much-needed improvements at Rushforth Park are a terrific example of that,” Mr Gulaptis said.

Cr Simmons, a former junior soccer coach and official, said providing quality sporting facilities had benefits for the whole community.

“The more people we can get active the better,” he said.

“It improves the health and wellbeing of those involved, brings people together and helps with social interaction.”