Lighting up Mernda’s oval

By Jackson Russell

Works are scheduled to begin soon on a lighting upgrade to Waterview Recreation Reserve in Mernda, expanding the ground’s capacity for junior and women’s football.

The $150,000 project was allocated as part of the City of Whittlesea’s 2020-21 budget, with the Mernda Junior Football Netball Club contributing $35,000 towards the upgrade, and is expected to be completed in February 2021.

The project will include an upgrade to the existing lights on the south oval to 100LUX LEDs including the upgrade of controls to accommodate the lights at either 50LUX or 100LUX, and four light poles at 32 metres in height.

The LED lights will be pointed directly onto the ground to limit any light spill and glare into neighbouring homes.

The upgrade would improve training facilities and allow for the possibility of future night matches to be played at the ground, subject to council approval.

Mernda Junior Football Netball Club president Craig Suslik said the club was really excited to get the upgrade it had worked towards for more than three years.

“About three and a half years ago, we were looking at the growth of girls and women in football and starting that up in Mernda,” he said.

“What we established back then was for us to be able to have all these teams, we wouldn’t have much room. This gives us the flexibility to play on Friday nights and Saturday nights.”

Mr Suslik said the club’s contribution was raised through years of fundraising.

“Kids pay $195 a year in registration and we try to raise $45,000 to $50,000 in sponsorship and we’ve also applied for a grant from the Bendigo Bank,” he said.

“If that doesn’t work, our contribution will be funded entirely by the club from years of hard work from our volunteers around the club raising money from local businesses.”

An additional benefit of the upgrade to LED lights is the club does not have to worry about dark patches on the field caused by blown globes in its existing lights which would cause further congestion of its facilities.

City of Whittlesea manager leisure and community facilities Ben Waterhouse said the lighting upgrade will create great opportunities for community members to watch or play a game of sport under lights.

“The lights will offer a more flexible scheduling and management of the ground for Mernda Football Netball Club with a specific focus on growing the club’s existing women’s and girls’ teams,” he said.

“Once completed the project will provide further opportunity for the community to support the local club, volunteer or gain employment as well as offering affordable entertainment that is accessible for the local community.”

Mr Suslik said the club was hoping to grow from 17 teams up to 22 teams with the additional training and match capacity from the new lights.

“I’d like to thank everyone who has helped make the project possible with a big mention to former president Thomas Felle who kicked off the project,” he said.