Funds committed to Mariners' community initiatives

The Central Coast Mariners Centre of Excellence will soon be home to some of Australia’s best Indigenous footballers after Foreign Affairs Minister Mr Bob Carr today announced $10 million of Federal Government funding towards the Club’s unique training base and community hub.

The Central Coast Mariners Centre of Excellence will soon be home to some of Australia-s best Indigenous footballers after Foreign Affairs Minister Mr Bob Carr today announced $10 million of Federal Government funding towards the Club-s unique training base and community hub.

Carr was joined by Government officials, Mariners representatives, Football Federation Australia administrators, Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council (LALC) delegates, and interested media at the funding announcement in Tuggerah.

After watching Mariners Head Coach Graham Arnold lead the Club-s first team through a pre-season session, Carr announced that the grant will help deliver an Hyundai A-League first program enabling talented Indigenous players to not only improve their football skills, but also advance their life prospects.

Carr added that the funding will allow Stage 2 of the impressive Centre to be completed, enabling the Central Coast community to benefit and access a range of health, sporting and education opportunities in one location.

“This project is about more than just football, it-s about providing a sporting, health and education hub that delivers a wide range of benefits for the local community and economy,” Mr Carr said.

Central Coast Mariners Group General Manager, Mr Peter Turnbull, said that the concept to establish the Club-s Elite Indigenous Football Academy had first been discussed with Darkinjung LALC Chief Executive Officer, Mr Sean Gordon, throughout the Mariners- 2013 Championship winning campaign.

“Today-s funding guarantee is the result of 12 months of hard work,” Mr Turnbull said. “We have been to Canberra on several occasions regarding this application, and we are delighted the funding has been finalised.”

“We feel the Mariners already make a tremendous difference to the lives of many people on the Central Coast, but with our Elite Indigenous Football Academy we hope to bring forward the days when the Socceroos can boast a strong number of Australia-s first people.”

“Moreover, this funding will enable us to start work on Stage 2 of the project within weeks. Without this commitment, it would have taken several years for us to have been able to deliver the extra facilities.”

Turnbull said the funding will also help create jobs on the Central Coast over the medium to long term, with a range of individuals and companies from a variety of sectors engaged to help deliver the project.

“This additional investment via the Mariners into the local economy will provide another boost to the local community,” he said.

Central Coast Mariners majority owner, Mr Michael Charlesworth - who is currently abroad on business - forwarded his thanks to the Government and Member for Dobell, Mr Craig Thompson, for assisting to secure the funding.

“Our Elite Indigenous Football Academy will be the first of its kind in Australia and will provide talented but disadvantaged indigenous kids the best possible opportunity to realise their dreams of becoming professional footballers,” Mr Charlesworth said.

“I would like to thank Craig who has worked tirelessly in making this opportunity come about. Craig has always been a keen supporter of our vision to ensure the Central Coast is Australia-s football leader.”

Head of Hyundai A-League, Mr Damien de Bohun, took time out of his busy schedule to attend the announcement.

Mr de Bohun said: “This is a fantastic announcement for the future of Central Coast football and the Mariners. Thousands of kids will benefit from this development and to have the inclusion of an Elite Indigenous Football Academy is another great step for the continued growth of football on the Central Coast.”

Mr Thompson said: “This is a huge vote of confidence in the future of the Mariners here on the Central Coast and I am proud to have been involved in negotiating the $10 million funding for the Centre of Excellence at Tuggerah.”

Stage 2 of the Central Coast Mariners Centre of Excellence includes a 1,500-seat grandstand, lighting for training fields, and additional car parking.

The Central Coast Mariners Centre of Excellence already features a tournament quality playing field utilised for first team training and National Youth League matches, coaching and players- quarters complete with a gym and office space, ten all-weather synthetic pitches utilised by the local community, and parking for in excess of 100 vehicles. Building on a public hydrotherapy and aquatic centre will be completed in 2014.

The funds for the project are from the latest round of the Regional Development Australia Fund. Funding for this project is already included in the budget.