For junior AFL players like Matthew McKenzie, Sunshine Coast Council’s $4.6 million upgrade of the Meridan Sporting Fields Complex is an investment in the future for him and his team mates.
The 12-year-old loves nothing more than practising his drop punts and playing his favourite game with friends.
“I think the big new fields, large clubhouse and great facilities will help get even more kids playing AFL on the coast,” Matthew said.
“Who wouldn’t want to play on those nice green fields?”
The council upgrade provides two new state-of-the-art AFL ovals incorporating specialised irrigation and field drainage systems that allow the fields to be utilised all year round.
The new sporting venue includes state level goal posts complete with back netting, high performance LED field lighting, perimeter fencing and viewing areas.
Sunshine Coast Council Mayor Mark Jamieson said council’s investment in the Meridan Sporting Complex would benefit the community for many generations to come.
“Ensuring high quality sport precincts are available to Sunshine Coast residents is an important objective for council and a key contributor to our healthy, smart and creative region,” Mayor Jamieson said.
“This upgrade is an outcome of the Meridan Fields Sporting Complex Master Plan 2012-2022 which was adopted by council in early 2012.
“The master plan provides a vision for the complex and I am pleased this project has been delivered in excellent time.”
Players and supporters will also enjoy new change rooms for four teams, a maintenance storage facility and sandstone spectator seating.
Getting a park has also been made easier for all users, with new car parking, northern access roads, drainage, pathway, overflow car parking, gates and vehicle bollards installed as part of the upgrade.
Matthew’s dad and President of the Kawana Park Eagles, Adam McKenzie, said the club had recently experienced huge growth in both boys and girls playing AFL.
“We’ve outgrown our current facilities at Kawana State College, so have worked very hard as a committee with AFL Queensland and Sunshine Coast Council to have this facility completed to such high quality finish,” Mr McKenzie said.
“As a club, we encourage participation for all players and now we have a fantastic new location to grow even further.
“We look forward to managing this site as a southern base for AFL on the Sunshine Coast into the future.”
Division 3 Councillor Peter Cox said he was proud his division boasted such an outstanding sporting facility.
“Already a busy hub for both soccer and hockey, AFL players can now call this contemporary facility home – a new nest for the Kawana Park Eagles Club,” Cr Cox said.
“Both of my sons have played for, and won premierships with, the Kawana Eagles, so they’re extremely excited to see the new fields and clubhouse which truly are first-class.
“Building these new facilities helps create even more opportunities for our local sporting clubs to prosper and expand their respective games.”
AFL Queensland made available $100,000 from its $450,000 contribution to various projects being undertaken with council to help deliver this facility.
AFL Queensland Chief Executive Officer Dean Warren said 2020 marked the 50th year of AFL competitions being played on the Sunshine Coast.
“The addition of the Meridan Sporting Fields to the network of venues is a wonderful early birthday present for the wider region and sets the Kawana Park Eagles up to kick more goals into the future,” Mr Warren said.
“On the Sunshine Coast, AFL has seen growth of over 15 per cent at the club player level over the past three season and there are now 116 teams from Sunshine Coast schools playing in our Q Schools Cup competitions.
“This growth could not be achieved without the significant contribution of the Sunshine Coast Council and the army of volunteers who work behind the scenes at clubs like Kawana Park to deliver a quality product for anyone who wants to play our game.
“AFL Queensland remains focussed on working with clubs, councils and government to deliver accessible and appropriate facilities to ensure everyone can enjoy the sport.”
Image caption: Kabi Kabi First Nation’s representative Kerry Jones, AFL Queensland Chief Executive Officer Dean Warren, Sunshine Coast Council Division 1 Councillor Rick Baberowski, Sunshine Coast Council Division 3 Councillor Peter Cox, Sunshine Coast Council Mayor Mark Jamieson and President of the Kawana Park Eagles Adam McKenzie were joined by Eagles players to celebrate the opening.