Mr RICHARDSON (Mordialloc) — I raise a matter for the Minister for Sport. The action I seek is for the minister to prioritise funding for the upgrade of Mentone Reserve, home of the St Bedes/Mentone Tigers Amateur Football Club and the Mentone Cricket Club, following the Andrews Labor government’s $1 million commitment to upgrade the buildings and grounds.
St Bedes/Mentone is a fantastic community sporting club within the city of Kingston, playing in the Victorian Amateur Football Association. The amateurs’ motto is ‘For the love of the game’ and the club epitomises the spirit and values of what underpins the association. Players are not paid to participate each week, which can lead to difficulties in keeping players at clubs, but St Bedes/Mentone has a rich history of over 100 years and has seen generations of local sporting stars remain at the club.
The club’s on-field success is remarkable. The current Western Bulldogs coach, Luke Beveridge, was the coach for several years and he did the unthinkable: he won three grand finals in a row as head coach from 2006 to 2008, elevating the team a division with each premiership and catapulting him into the AFL coaching spotlight. This demonstrates how well this club is run both on and off field; it is a shining light for the city of Kingston. This could not be more evident than it was on my visits throughout last year when I had the opportunity to meet players, support staff, parents and life members. The culture is infectious and makes you want to be part of it.
When I visited the club I was convinced it needed support and partnership. It was so pleasing to join the Premier last year to commit to strengthening the future of Mentone Reserve. Together with the Mentone Cricket Club, there is well over 100 years of history in Mentone on that site. One has only to walk into the clubrooms to get an appreciation of how significant the club is in forming the identity of our region.
St Bedes/Mentone is now undertaking a master plan for the site with the Kingston City Council. This is an exciting development and should link in well with the council’s vision for Mentone as an activity centre. I hope the master plan goes beyond a pavilion upgrade and looks at how we can leverage the best outcomes at Mentone Reserve. I am pleased the Kingston City Council is working closely with St Bedes/Mentone, the Victorian government and the wider community to look at how vital Mentone Reserve is for the region.
Finally, I would like to reflect on a recent study of the benefits of community football undertaken by La Trobe University on behalf of AFL Victoria. It found that for every $1 spent on a community football club at least $4.50 is returned in social value and for every 1 player football clubs reach 10 people in their communities. It also found that association with football clubs significantly increases chances of securing employment, via networks provided by the clubs. With these considerations, the investment in Mentone Reserve is a fantastic community outcome. In conclusion, I seek that the Minister for Sport prioritise funding for the upgrade of Mentone Reserve and support these wonderful community clubs.