Former captain of the Australian netball team Liz Ellis has appealed to Ballina Shire councillors to double the number of basketball courts planned for the town’s sports and events centre, currently on the drawing board.
Ms Ellis, who now calls Ballina home after moving there recently with her husband and young daughter, told councillors last week that two indoor courts for basketball or netball in the proposed new sports complex were just not enough.
She told council’s public-access session that a four-court configuration for the stadium would ‘add enormously to this community’.
She said a recent federal government report blamed ‘a distinct lack of infrastructure’ as a major barrier to participation in sport at a junior level.
Ms Ellis, who sits on the board of the Australian Sports Commission, told councillors of a facility in Sydney that had increased in size to accommodate many other indoor sports such as table tennis and badminton, and that had boosted the number of older people using the facility and involving themselves in those sports.
‘Within four years, four people at that centre were competing in the masters games,’ she said.
‘One thing I love about Ballina as a new resident is the many beautiful old people here; we should cater for them. Activities such as those are great for their physical and mental health as well as for younger ones.
‘I have a nine-month-old daughter and I hope in years to come she will use a four-court facility in Ballina.
Ms Ellis, 39, is the most-capped international player for Australian netball, who played for the national netball team from 1992 to 2007. She quipped that she is a ‘fully paid but bad-performing member’ of Ballina Basketball and also conducts coaching clinics in Sydney, saying she would be the ‘first person to book the four-court facility’, which would also do away with the ‘problem of wet weather’.
Cr David Wright said councillors last week decided to hold a workshop with the designers soon ‘to see if there’s room for a four-court stadium’, and the master plan for the facility would then proceed.
Ballina Basketball Association’s Eva Ramsey also appealed to councillors for a four-court stadium, saying an expanded facility was badly needed for the town’s growing sporting community. Ms Ramsey said the town’s existing seven indoor courts for use by basketball or netball were ‘mostly off limits or unsuitable’.
‘We have 154 members and need a home urgently.’
She said there were 46 basketball teams in Ballina ‘but only space for six’ and that the courts were needed also for other sports such as wheelchair basketball, lifeball and futsal.