Centre of Excellence a 'medium term plan'

Football Mid North Coast chairman Mike Parsons.
Football Mid North Coast chairman Mike Parsons.

FOOTBALL Mid North Coast is currently negotiating with MidCoast Council and the State government regarding the establishment of a Centre of Excellence at Taree Recreation Centre.

“This isn’t a long term plan. We’re further advanced than that. I’d call it medium term plan,’’ FMNC chairman Mike Parsons said.

“We’re past phase one.’’

While football would be the main tenant at the complex, Mr Parsons said the centre, which would include a main oval field and adjacent training grounds, would be used by other sports. He said the main stadium would have seating for 2000 people and would be of a standard to host A-League matches or even international friendlies.

Mr Parsons estimated the project would cost $9 to $10 million and would be built in the area at Taree Recreation Centre near Taree Hockey Centre.

Mr Parsons and other FMNC board members and officials have spoken to State Deputy Premier John Barilaro and NSW Sports Minister Stuart Ayres about possible funding, along with MidCoast Council. He described the talks as ‘encouraging.’

Mr Parsons assured the complex would be used extensively at a domestic level for National Premier League and Women’s Premier League fixtures involving Football Mid North Coast teams along with FMNC Premier League and even Southern League games. Football Mid North Coast’s Premier League grand finals are currently played at Port Macquarie while the Newcastle Jets played a trial game against FMNC northern and southern selections in Port Macquarie last year.  

He said the complex would be a massive benefit to the Manning Valley in terms of tourism.

“Taree doesn’t have the same capacity to attract tourists as Port Macquarie or Forster-Tuncurry,’’ Mr Parsons said.

“However, we can be a centre for sports tourism bringing people to the valley.

“Look at Manning Hockey’s complex at the recreation centre and the potential that has to bring major hockey events here. Now there’s talk of redeveloping the basketball stadium and increasing it to four courts to assist basketball, indoor netball and futsal. We are struggling to find enough courts to play futsal,’’ Mr Parsons added.

The area at the recreation centre is currently used by little athletics. Mr Parsons understands that under the plan athletics would move to Cundletown Jets Soccer Club’s home ground. He said the Jets would in turn shift to FMNC’s Zone Field at the recreation centre, while also using the centre of excellence.

“This can be accomplished in the not too distant future and not when we’re all gone and in the ground,’’ Mr Parsons said.