A Mildura Rural City Councillor has called on the Sunraysia Football Netball League to monitor the use of Mildura’s Number One Oval if it wants to play finals football there in 19 weeks time.
Cr Max Thorburn said that last week and again this week he has raised concerns about the potential over-use of the upgraded Numbers One and Two ovals.
“The main oval is one which has had six minutes of water every daylight hour for two months and hasn’t been given a chance to settle – the Council signed it over to the League and tenants last Wednesday and footballers have been full on to it ever since.”
“The two Clubs who played last Saturday on it were supposed to sign off – in writing – before the game was played but I have seen no evidence that this was done.”
“What I did see was a Central umpire walk 30 metres to replace a large divot of turf straight after a Merbein player was hurt”
“Several times during the game red loam was placed out on the field to cover suspect areas around sprinkler heads.”
Cr Thorburn said that SFNL clubs were told prior to last Saturday that there could be no training on number one oval prior to the first game played.
“What hasn’t been relayed is the reservations being expressed about a brand new surface – which has had no chance to settle.”
“It is a big ask for the ovals to stand up to continuous training by two SFNL Clubs and four games on a Saturday,” Cr Thorburn said.
But he said it was fortunate that the oval will get a three week break in May from Saturday play and this will give the surface some reprieve.
“Then the surface gets seven weeks of continuous play – then two weeks off – then eight weeks of continuous use including finals.
Cr Thorburn said that he believes the SFNL should meet with Mildura and Imperials and closely monitor how much training and play the oval can accommodate at this time.
“While it looks good from the fence line, a high up view or a walk on the surface will soon give you a different story and the patches not grassed will not really improve while the oval is now in full use.”
Cr Thorburn says the Sunraysia Football League itself should carefully monitor the situation because it has the most at stake.
“All the finals are scheduled for Number One Oval this year and this is where the SFLNL raise the money for both operational and infrastructure funding,” he said.
“What local football has to remember is that if the oval is over used and deteriorates then the Clubs and Players can’t come back to Mildura Rural City Council and ask us to repair something which has been subject to football abuse.”