For Ilia Houridis his passion for sport and recreation goes beyond the playing field to ensuring that the State has the right infrastructure in place to ensure we all have the opportunity to play.
Describing himself as an avid supporter of sport, the recently appointed Director of Planning and Projects at the Office for Recreation and Sport (ORS) is excited about his role in helping to shape the future of sport and recreation in South Australia.
"My title really does describe my role quite accurately," he said. "I am here to plan for the future infrastructure needs for sport and active recreation by engaging with the broader sector and key stakeholders to understand their requirements and then to help them develop the projects that will deliver on those needs.
"My role is to ensure the synergy between the two areas."
The recently commenced upgrade of the State Hockey Centre according to Ilia, is not only a good example of how planning and project needs have been successfully met, but also on how effective engagement between ORS and state sporting organisations can help to deliver effective infrastructure outcomes in funding decisions.
"My area also takes a lead role in the Community Recreation and Sport Facilities Program which provides a range of grant funding for initiatives that may require as little as $5,000 right up to $2.5m for the planning and development of sustainable, inclusive, functional and fit for purpose active recreation and sport and facilities to meet the current and future needs of the South Australian community," he said.
"The Pines (hockey) project is a good example of how my role can cover all these areas. Not only has ORS engaged with and funded hockey to develop a plan for the sport, but it then in turn helped us in making informed funding decisions."
Understanding the demands for sporting infrastructure across the State to best align available funding is, Ilia believes, one of the great challenges for both ORS and the recreation and sporting sector.
"The challenge is ensuring the effective planning and then the efficient delivery of meeting such demands," he said. "The way of the world is such now that we are framed by budget limitations, so as a result, effective planning and focus and efficient delivery of sporting infrastructure has become even more important."
To meet this challenge Ilia believes it is imperative that his role engages with the industry, local government and other key stakeholders to best prepare for now and into the future.
"By taking a policy lead in planning and infrastructure delivery, I believe, is where my role and that of ORS in a more general sense becomes very important to the sport and recreation sector," he said. "A good example of this is to assist the State Sporting Organisations and local government to understand the concept of sporting hubs as a future direction for sporting infrastructure."