It was all in for a bit of passing practice for the local politicians and Lower Clarence Magpies Rugby League Club members as they prepare for completion of new facilities at the club’s new Yamba home ground. Clarence Valley Council’s general manager, Ashley Lindsay, who has a long association with the club is about to receive a pass. Image: Geoff Helisma

Magpies set to fly with new home ground

Geoff  Helisma|

Construction work at the Lower Clarence Magpies new home ground at Ngayundi Yamba Sports Complex, Yamba, is well underway – last Friday, local, state and federal politicians, the mayor, Jim Simmons, Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis and Page MP Kevin Hogan were on hand to inspect the project’s progress.

The works are being funded through a $500,000 Community Sports Infrastructure grant from the Australian Government, a $355,000 Stronger Country Communities grant from the NSW Government and $505,502 from Clarence Valley Council.

Mr Hogan said the upgrade was a victory for sport in the region. “Yamba sports complex will soon attract large scale regional events, carnivals, coaching clinics and training academies,” Mr Hogan said. “These upgrades will include a new canteen, storage spaces, spectator seating, accessible public toilets, referee and first aid rooms, as well as four unisex change rooms dedicated to encouraging more female participation.

“The new facilities will meet local National Rugby League (NRL) guidelinesas the NRL has expressed interest in coordinating junior training activities here. “It will also be great for touch football, Oztag, football and rugby union.”

However, Mr Hogan said the new facility was about “more than sport”. “A good sporting club is a good community club,” he said. “They teach kids more than sport, they teach them a lot of life lessons;  they’re part of a community within the wider community. “I’ve seen it time and time again; kids who may have been a bit wayward, they join a football club … and learn some life lessons.”

Mr Gulaptis said the new clubhouse facility augured well for the future of both junior and senior rugby league in the Lower Clarence by providing players and spectators with a dedicated home ground with modern amenities. “This is all about building the physical and social infrastructure of the future that I am so passionate about, so we can build vibrant regional communities,” Mr Gulaptis said.

“The new complex will allow the Lower Clarence Magpies Rugby League Club to host more significant sporting events, attracting more investment into the town and increased participation in a much loved sport. “The whole community benefits when all three tiers of government work in partnership on behalf of residents.” Magpies spokesperson, former president Bruce Howard,  said the club had “been in the wilderness” and had to overcome “all manner of obstacles over the years – including sharing the [former home ground, the Maclean showground] with horses”. “We had to move, we had to come here,” he said. “The move started when we had the former  Maclean shire council.

“This will give us a base for both senior and junior clubs, which to my knowledge has not been the case for over 40 years.” Mayor Simmons said: “Everyone knows about the health and well-being benefits from a facility like this, but the benefits to the local community of social connection and increased participation in the economy are just as important.”

The club’s junior president, Dan Nikas, said having to “work out of twoseparate areas of the community” would soon be a thing of the past. “Our new home ground will provide a strong connection between junior and senior clubs,” he said. “It will also provide our juniors a sense of ownership and pride; a place we can call home.

“Our juniors are strong n numbers and something the community can be proud of.” Works are expected to be completed by February 2020.