Major upgrades to the Women’s Memorial Playing Fields (WMPF) in St Marys have officially begun with an overhaul of the sporting facilities and the construction of a new homage to Australian servicewomen.
The State Government is contributing $9.237 million to carry out works on the venue, which is creating 40 jobs, and includes the development of improved playing surfaces, new change rooms and clubrooms and new sports field lighting.
The new plaza area will be set physically and symbolically in the centre of the sports complex, featuring as a memorial to the nurses killed in one of the worst atrocities inflicted on Australian women in World War II, and to all Australian women who have served.
Minister for Recreation, Sport and Racing, Corey Wingard, said this project will be significant for the community; not only for women in sport but also serving as an appropriate area to pay respects to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
“This venue is the only dedicated women’s memorial of this calibre in the country, remembering the Australian women who have served and sacrificed their lives,” Minister Wingard said.
“The memorial will be put in place to not only honour these women but to also encourage girls to continue playing sport into adulthood.
“As females are under-represented in organised sport, it’s imperative we continue to upgrade sporting facilities and equalise opportunities, to encourage girls and women to play sport – part of our Game On initiative to get all South Australians moving.”
Member for Elder, Carolyn Power, said sports played on the three ovals on site by generations of girls and women include tennis, softball, cricket, hockey, soccer and lacrosse.
“This project is significant for our community, not only through the development of improved sports facilities for women and girls in our local area but also to honour and commemorate Australian servicewomen,” Ms Power said.
The WMPF will continue to be the home ground for the Cumberland United Women’s Football Club and Sturt Lacrosse Club which now hosts both women’s and men’s games.
President of the Cumberland United Women’s Football Club, Sam Jones, welcomed the investment in its home grounds at the WMPF saying there will be many benefits for the club.
“This is a very significant step as it will finally provide excellent quality, fully-lit soccer pitches, together with appropriate female change room facilities,” President Jones said.
“This redevelopment marks an important contribution to the health, fitness and well-being of girls and women through sport for now and into their futures and will significantly assist the club in promoting and encouraging the uptake, and on-going participation in soccer, by female players south of the city.”
President of the Sturt Lacrosse Club, Paul Scuteri, shared this sentiment saying the redevelopment will help attract new players.
“We're very excited about the opportunities this development brings to grow and develop our club and the game of lacrosse,” President Scuteri said.
“The new facilities will ensure a safe and spectacular environment for everyone to enjoy.”
The site is also home of the South Australian Women’s Memorial Playing Fields (SAWMPF) Trust and hosts the Women’s Memorial Trust annual Bangka Day Memorial Service in February where approximately 300 people (including many dignitaries) attend.
“The Women’s Memorial Playing Fields Trust has participated in the transition of the WMPF from concept and design through to the closure of the site late last year,” SAWMPF Trust President Helen Fischer said.
“The Trust is eagerly awaiting completion of the building works and is excited about opening and dedicating the new Women’s Memorial, which will coincide with the 80th Anniversary of the Bangka Island Massacre in 2022.
“The Trust’s vision in this redevelopment is to ensure that the memorial continues to honour and commemorate the nurses who were massacred on Radji Beach, in addition to becoming an iconic memorial to all women who have served in the Australian Defence Force.”
To complete the works, the project also received a $500,000 grant through the Australian Government Community Development Grants Programme towards the memorial.
Construction works on the WMPF are expected to be completed by December 2021.