The Victorian government will kick more than $100 million into the construction of a “state-of-the-art” football facility at Bundoora as part of next week’s budget.
- The Matildas will use the centre as their Victorian base, spending about 140 days there each year
- The hub will be used by grassroots clubs and connect with La Trobe University’s sports science programs
- The soccer centre is expected to be complete before the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, which will be played in Australia
The government says the venue, which will serve as a state base for the Matildas, should be finished by 2023.
That will enable the Australian women’s soccer team to use the space as a hub during that year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Matildas captain Sam Kerr said the prospect of a centre specifically catering to her team was “very exciting”.
“The team loves playing in Melbourne and we really look forward to having a dedicated base where we can train and prepare for matches when we are in Victoria,” she said.
The government said the Matildas would spend about 140 days a year at the centre, which will include a gym and medical and recovery areas.
The hub will be built at La Trobe University’s Bundoora Sports Park.
New facility to also incorporate rugby
The design will incorporate the planned Victorian State Rugby Centre as well, providing a home for the Melbourne Rebels’ Super W team.
Acting Premier James Merlino said it was a “massive announcement” for both codes, particularly for the women’s games.
The federal government has contributed $15 million towards the project.
The centre’s pitches and community-level programs will be open for grassroots clubs, including training for referees and coaches.
The facility will also host Football Victoria’s high-performance program for young talented players.
Mr Merlino said the centre would offer a “world-class home in the heart of Melbourne” for the nation’s female football stars.
“When we say we’re serious about increasing the visibility of female participation in elite sport, this is what we mean,” he said.
Sports Minister Martin Pakula said the centre had been “a long time coming” and construction would begin this year.
After more than two years of discussions, Mr Pakula said there was a “great opportunity to kill two birds with one stone” by building the facilities for two codes once La Trobe University was identified as the site.
“This will be an absolute hub for football and for rugby and it will mean that the next generation of young players will have better facilities than anyone has ever had,” he said.
The $101.1 million spend is the single biggest sporting investment in the state, Mr Pakula said.
He said the benefits of the spending on sport, including a growing Pasifika involvement in rugby, was “hard to measure in strict economic terms”.
“It’s not always about mere economic return, it’s about the ability to get young people involved in sport and the opportunity to perform at the highest level,” he said.