Soccer scene thriving but Rushforth facilities need a boost
IT MUST be said - the fields at Rushforth Park are great for football.
As a newcomer to the region who has played on the fields of every town and city I've lived, it's great to finally get beyond bobbling ball management and play real football.
The South Services Gunners Soccer Club Summer Sixes concluded at the South Grafton venue on Tuesday evening and Supa Oldies Soccer broke up for Christmas last night.
As a member of unflappable mid-tablers Minnie Water Maggots on Tuesdays and the jovial lot Action Mini Bus Hire on Thursday, I have been impressed with the smooth surface and how well it stands up to extreme weather conditions and high-level usage.
Summer Sixes co-ordinator Shanon Tough agreed but believes the venue's high-traffic means there should be more focus on improving facilities.
"The field gets hammered but it holds up well," Tough said.
"It gets used just about every night of the week, even through summer.
"The grounds are great but the facilities are rubbish. The canteen and toilets are outdated."
Grafton Soccer Association is currently in negotiations to make minor upgrades to the canteen area.
But it hardly seems adequate for such a heavily patronised ground.
Again, I have never witnessed such a strong summer soccer scene and when you consider Gunners, Grafton City and Majos Football Club all call Rushforth Park home in the winter, there would be in excess of 1000 players who use it.
Judging by the second season of Summer Sixes, usage is likely to rise further.
"We had 200 juniors from under-6s to 15s while our senior teams doubled to 12," Tough said.
"We opened it up to all ages after talking to people at Supa Oldies who were keen to be competitive against the younger guys and challenge themselves.
"Last year we tried to keep it going after Christmas but everyone goes back to their normal winter clubs for pre-season training in February and we lose too many players.
"We'll start again (at the) end of next winter season. We started in the middle of October this year, but we might even start a little bit earlier next time."
McAuley, made up of a group of teachers from McAuley Catholic College, won the Summer Sixes ahead of the young, fleet-footed Hagan FC side.