Connell Park courts a win for Bellingen netballers

Member for Oxley Michael Kemp, Linda Husden, Karen Mills, Sandra Hulbert and Bellingen Shire Mayor Steve Allan at the Official opening of the Netball courts at Connell Park.

THE Bellingen community gathered on Saturday, May 18 to celebrate the opening of new netball courts at Connell Park.

Bellingen Shire Mayor Steve Allan officiated the opening, which was followed by the first official game on the courts featuring ladies first grade teams, alongside a social game on the second court.

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In his address, Mayor Allan underscored the significance of the new courts, remarking, “The addition of these courts is a significant milestone for Bellingen.

“Not only do they provide a dedicated space for netball and basketball enthusiasts, but they also signify a leap forward in our aspirations for regional and state-level competitions.

“These top-tier facilities create an environment where our community can hone their skills and compete at their best.”

Funding was split between Bellingen Shire Council and $368,343 from the NSW Government.

Minister for Regional NSW Tara Moriarty said the opening of the new Bellingen netball courts is a testament to the power of community-driven initiatives.

“These state-of-the-art facilities will provide a space for growth, development, and inclusivity within the local community,” Minister Moriarty said.

“I’m looking forward to seeing netballers of all ages and abilities out here making the most of the courts and enjoying the benefits of physical exercise in the beautiful Bellingen outdoors.”

The opening event was well attended by community leaders and representatives from other sporting codes.

The Bellingen Netball Association took the opportunity to award life-memberships to two dedicated and hard working volunteers: Kristy Glyde, President of the Bellingen Netball Association, and Sandra Hulbert, who, in addition to her extensive contributions to netball, volunteers on the 355 Committee Management of Connell Park.

The new hard courts offer numerous advantages over previous grass surfaces, including increased durability, reduced weather-related disruptions, and expanded program offerings.

With enhanced lighting, the courts will facilitate a range of activities, from traditional netball matches to innovative programs such as slow/walking netball and mixed netball.

Additionally, the improved facilities will support late afternoon and evening training sessions.

In addition to netball, the versatile courts will accommodate other sports and activities, including basketball and handball.

The Bellingen Netball Association has played a crucial role in advocating for the new courts and assisting Council throughout the application process.

The unveiling of the new netball courts is part of a broader initiative to enhance the Connell Park precinct’s amenities and recreational offerings.

These efforts are complemented by recent developments, such as the completion of the Connell Park footbridge last month and commencement of pool upgrades.

Looking ahead, the community can anticipate a series of forthcoming enhancements, including the construction of a new multi-sport amenity building equipped with accessible showers and toilets catering to sports and pool users.

Additionally, new public toilets near the swimming centre and playground will provide added convenience for visitors.

Other amenities such as canteens, referee rooms, and club storage facilities are set to elevate the overall sports experience.

Council is also undertaking improvements to field surfaces and drainage to ensure usability even during wet weather events, while the addition of lighting will allow for extended use of the parkinto the evenings.

The creation of improved shared paths, landscaping and fencing initiatives aim to beautify Connell Park while safeguarding playing fields from unauthorised vehicular access.

“I am thrilled to witness the realisation of these courts and eagerly anticipate the positive influence they will bring to our community,” Mayor Allan said.

“I extend my best wishes to our netball clubs and players as they acquaint themselves with these exceptional facilities, which will usher in a new era of sporting excellence and camaraderie.”

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