The Monbulk Recreation Reserve has been acknowledged as the Victorian winner in the 2019 AFL Ken Gannon Community Football Facilities Awards.
The inaugural Awards recognised best practise in community football facility development across Australia, along with the people, clubs and other stakeholders driving the projects.
The upgraded Monbulk Recreation Reserve, which was also highly commended in the national award, has become a central hub for the community through its multipurpose spaces, while raising the profile of local clubs.
The new amenities have achieved both on and off-field growth, notably a 24% increase in AFL men’s participation and a 550% increase in AFL women’s participation, as well as an ability to host finals and high-profile matches.
The Reserve was eight years in the making for Monbulk Football Club, who worked together with AFL Victoria and the Yarra Ranges Council, as well as the State and Federal Governments and the local community, to plan and develop the facility.
There are further plans to grow the Reserve, including new netball courts for community and school use.
Strategy, Government & Infrastructure Manager at AFL Victoria, Amber Koster, said the people of Monbulk were strong, community-minded people.
“The Reserve created a sense of belonging and provided a community space to be proud of,” she said.
President of the Monbulk Football Netball Club and the Reserve Development Group, Paul Utting, said the Community Sports Pavilion has had a massive impact on the tenant clubs and the local community.
“We now have a building that serves current community expectations and one that the entire community is proud of,” he said.
“We host community outdoor movie nights and with a full commercial kitchen we are able to cater for other community events, not just club events.
“It has provided us with four unisex change rooms and up-to-date female toilets where previously we had outdated communal showers and only one female toilet in the entire reserve.
“It also provides us with the perfect opportunity to promote our “Wall of Support” initiative which focuses on mental health awareness and support.”