They are fierce rivals on the football field and netball court.
But one thing North Clare and South Clare can definitely agree on is that the town’s new sporting precinct is something they are proud of, and holds great promise for their future.
South Clare Sports Club president Nick Heath and North Clare Football Club president Damian ‘Pud’ Smith agreed it was an exciting time for their clubs.
“We now have a really vibrant, modern facility,” Heath said.
“It’s exciting for South Clare, but also for sport in the wider community and the ease of access and functionality of space has greatly improved our experience as a sporting club and also for our volunteers.
“I think it’s really going to attract people back to the club, encourage them to play sport and be involved in local groups.”
Smith said it was great for the clubs to be “home”, having relocated to Blyth – 13 kilometres down the road – for the past season and a half while building was underway.
The redevelopment features four new changerooms, new umpires change rooms, elevated coaching boxes, fully-accessible toilets, and a function centre, bar and commercial kitchen.
A volunteer effort
Clare Oval Redevelopment Committee (CORC) project manager Ryan Tregilgas is one of the many volunteers involved in getting the project completed and said the precinct had been built to meet modern standards.
“It has been designed to fall in line with the guidelines set by the AFL for a regional standard facility,” Tregilgas said.
“It includes four change rooms, all unisex and sized at 65 square metres each, with cubicles and individual showers.
“The whole complex has been designed to current standards of accessibility and includes two fully-accessible disabled toilets with showers, along with male and female toilets.”
The western wing of the oval features four different grasses as a trial to test which variety can handle Clare’s frosty, wet winters and high-level use by two clubs, ahead of potential oval resurfacing in the future.
Located in central Clare, the precinct is a hub of activity, playing host to male and female football, netball, cricket, basketball and tennis, with squash, swimming and gym located in the adjoining Valleys Lifestyle Centre.
With the oval redevelopment also comes the planned relocation of the Auburn, Clare and Districts RSL to a new base within the new function centre, creating a central location and opportunity for new community partnerships.
A decade of work
It has been a long road for local volunteers with their sights set on updating the former, outdated facilities.
After years of lobbying – beginning in earnest in 2013 – the Clare oval redevelopment project finally got the support it needed to proceed in 2019.
Clare and Gilbert Valleys Council committed $1.96m to the project; followed by $880,000 from the State Government Office for Recreation, Sport and Racing; $2.534 in Federal funding from the now defunct Building Better Regions Fund; North Clare Football Club and South Clare Sports Club have committed a combined $200,000; and the CORC raising more than $150,000 for the project.
Clare builder SJM Carpentry and Building won the building tender and local architect Greg Pulford Architects designed the facility – both providing generous in-kind and financial input. Where possible, local or South Australian contractors and supplies were utilised.
“The project has had a huge benefit locally,” Tregilgas said.
“Everybody has seen all the activity at the oval over the past 18 months and the people that it’s employed, and people attending Clare town centre every day to carry out their work, which is a bit of an economy booster.
“We’ve generated up to eight full-time jobs directly through this project, and obviously there’s indirect employment right through the supply chain as well.”
It is anticipated the new facility will be able to attract higher level sporting and community events.
“This level of community infrastructure also helps attract and retain people looking to relocate to regional SA and puts the Clare Valley in line with, or ahead of, some of our peer regions,” Tregilgas said.
“Overall, the economic and social benefit generated from this project is very positive for our whole community.”Jump to next article