AFL Victoria and Netball Victoria welcomes the Victorian Government’s latest announcement to commit $8 million to extend the Country Football Netball Program (CFNP) for a further four years.

In addition, a further $1 million contribution has been committed by program partners, AFL, AFL Victoria and Netball Victoria.

AFL Victoria chief executive Steven Reaper and Netball Victoria acting chief executive Katie Reaper believe that the CFNP has been an unmitigated success, lauded from clubs, leagues, local government and both football and netball.

“The Country Football Netball Program has been pivotal in providing grassroots clubs and associations with a vehicle to improve their facilities so that increased participation levels in both netball and football, on and off the court, can be maximised,” Mrs Reaper said.

“The evaluation of the program was extremely positive and recommended the CFNP continue, as did Peter Jackson’s 2011 Country Football Review, so we welcome the decision by the Victorian Government to do just that,” Mr Reaper said.

Mr Reaper also cited the landmark research project by La Trobe University which found that for every dollar invested in community football, a return of $4.40 in social value is delivered in terms of improved physical and mental health, increased social connectedness, wellbeing, personal development and employment outcomes.

In its 10-year history, the CFNP has provided more than $22 million in grant funding to assist with over 425 projects. This has resulted in a combined total project value of almost $65 million.

“Some of these projects include premier facility developments completed at Morwell, Bendigo, Ballarat, Shepparton, Horsham, Swan Hill, Colac and Wangaratta, but perhaps even more importantly it has delivered many simple, smaller change room, court, field and lighting projects that support both Australian Football and Netball volunteers,” Mr. Reaper said.

“We recognise that our regional facilities produce some of the best netballers in Victoria. With seven of our twelve Melbourne Vixens athletes hailing from the country, the pathway we have for these players, and the safe and compliant community and regional facilities, is therefore crucial in the development of elite athletes” Mrs Reaper said.

Better sport and recreation facilities go a long way to encouraging future football and netball players, coaches, officials and supporters of all abilities to participate in local sport and make it easier for the rest of the community to get involved.

Netball Victoria’s regional staff and the AFL Region Commissions’ knowledge of their communities and relationships with local Councils, along with the AFL Victoria state wide facilities plan ‘Growing the Heartland’,  regional facilities plans and Netball Victoria’s Statewide Facilities Strategy will ensure the best possible investments can be made.

“With our 2015 Census data showing club participation levels exceeding Victoria’s population growth last season, we need to continue to work collaboratively to ensure there are quality facilities across the state to cater for this growth,” Mr Reaper said.

The CFNP plays such a significant role in enhancing relationships between clubs, councils and peak sporting organisation. We are excited to have the support of the Victorian Government and look forward to working with program partners on the continuation of the CFNP and other key stakeholders on major and minor projects which are significant to our sports.

The CFNP is a proven model that drives and increases participation in both netball and football within Victoria and we are thankful to the State Government’s ongoing commitment to the facility development of football and netball throughout the state.