Swans boost AFL grassroots footy – hooray!

Kicking goals: Waratah Park, Sutherland, is the headquarters for AFL in Sutherland Shire. Players, officials and mayor Kent Johns and federal and state MPs turned out for the big announcement on Saturday. Picture: Jane DysonSYDNEY Swans AFL Club have strong ties with Sutherland Shire and news of the major upgrade to Waratah Park is expected to provide a pathway for the game’s future stars.
Nanjing Night Net

The code overall will get a significant kick ahead with $1.5 million to be spent on Waratah Park, Sutherland, the sport’s new regional headquarters for juniors and open-age teams.

The announcement was made on Saturday morning at Waratah Park.

The Sydney Swans have had several shire-based players play premiership football.

Midfielder Lloyd Perris, 20, is a Cronulla Sharks junior who came through the Swans Academy and played grade football for St George.

Others first-graders include Nick Davis, a 2005 Sydney Swans premiership winner who had played for Ramsgate.

He has returned to Sutherland Shire and lives at Sylvania. Davis is working in development with the Swans.

Former Swans skipper Dennis Carroll, now 55, is from Lilli Pilli.

He looks after player welfare with the Swans.

Perris, who went to Woolooware High School, grew up at Woolooware, praised the funding for the game.

“It’s fantastic to be back in the shire where I grew up and where I played my junior football,” Perris said.

“To hear that Waratah Park will become the hub of AFL football in Sydney’s south is great, especially with the potential for programs like the Sydney Swans Academy to come out and runsessions here.

‘‘I am sure there will be plenty of kids drawn towards AFL by what’s on offer at the revamped Waratah Park.

‘‘I can’t wait to return when the works are completed to have a kick around.’’

The AFL playing fields are used already but the major funding announcement on Saturday secured the code’s future in the region.

AFL NSW/ACT chief executive Sam Graham said it was the ‘‘ biggest single investment to infrastructure the AFL has ever made in the region’’.

‘‘The works will be highlighted by new change rooms with a host of new amenities, a revamped playing surface and lights, new fencing around the ground, and safer pedestrian access,’’ Graham said.

Graham said Waratah Park will become the home of AFL in Sydney’s south, with the ground’s capacity increasing from 190 to 580 players.

Mayor Kent Johns said: ‘‘It’s great to see the local clubs, the AFL and the council working together to support the growth of the sport, the real winners are the children and the heroes are the mums and dads who raised the money and set up for the games every weekend.’’

Miranda Bombers and Southern Power clubs will be based there.

Graham was joined on Saturday at the announcement by Sutherland mayor Kent Johns, Social Services Minister Scott Morrison, Sydney Swans player Lloyd Perris, Heathcote MP Lee Evans, upper house state MP John Ajaka and Miranda MP Eleni Petinos.

Sydney Swans general manager-football Tom Harley said the entire code was a winner.

“We’re really excited about the Waratah Park upgrade which will provide a first-class facility for community football teams,’’ Harley said.

Are you excited about the boost to the sport?

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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