Whitsunday Sportspark president, Justin Butler.
Whitsunday Sportspark president, Justin Butler.

GAME ON: Kick-start to sport in the Whitsundays

ATHELTES across the region will soon take to their respective pitch, field and court with the reopening of the Whitsunday Sportspark.

Training for rugby, soccer, AFL, netball and touch football began this week with games set to resume from July 12 in line with stage 3 of the government’s roadmap to recovery.

President of Whitsunday Sportspark Justin Butler said athletes both young and old were itching to get back to into their sports.

“Luckily all five of our sports and committees have decided to step up and take on the challenge,” he said.

“(Sport is a) huge part of the community, and even more so with the obvious mental health challenges that are coming.

“Sport in Australia and especially in small regional towns is sort of the fabric that knits together the whole community.”

Games will return to the Whitsunday Sportspark soon with some adjustments for coronavirus restrictions.
Games will return to the Whitsunday Sportspark soon with some adjustments for coronavirus restrictions.

The return to play will not look the same as pre-COVID times with staggered starts, hand sanitising stations and different zones for training.

Mr Butler said there would also be limits on spectators to comply with regulations.

“There’s only supposed to be groups of 20 people in different training zones, so there’s no capacity for parents to come and stand and watch their kids,” he said.

“Whether you agree with the rules or not, everybody has to comply with the rules or the risk is sport might be pulled.”

Parents and spectators were instead encouraged to drop their children off or wait in their cars rather than congregate within the park.

However, with the challenges of resuming sport also comes good news on the progress of the Sportspark’s $8.2 million redevelopment.

The project, which received funding from Whitsunday Regional Council and both state and federal governments, has so far seen the construction of a new canteen, upgraded fields and improved lighting.

Renders of the new clubhouse that will be built at Whitsunday Sportspark.
Renders of the new clubhouse that will be built at Whitsunday Sportspark.

Mr Butler said the next stage, which included the construction of a clubhouse, was on track to begin in August/September this year.

“That will drive a lot of construction jobs and will create a dozen or more jobs on an ongoing basis when it’s open,” he said.

“It will be a club the size of Jubilee Tavern with a bistro, sports bar, grandstands flowing out over fields, kids club, TAB and pokies machines.

“On the back of all the hits the Whitsundays has taken over last four years with the cyclone, shark attacks and now COVID, we really want to drive it as a community club.

“All profits will flow back into community, not just sports out of the park but sports and community all over the Whitsunday region.”