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‘Not earning its keep’

Crying out to be used … Memorial Park’s artificial turf is a lonely sight for much of the time. PHOTOS/FILE

More users wanted for park’s artificial turf

CHRIS COGDALE
[email protected]

Sports bodies have booked about 650 hours for training sessions and games on the Memorial Park artificial turf this year, but there is scope to use the facility even more.

That’s according to Wairarapa Multi Sports Stadium Trust [WMSST] operations manager Simon Ellis.

“We have 650 hours, which we are pretty much at full capacity during term time after school hours,” he said.

“But it’s not earning its keep, and I don’t mean that people aren’t paying to use it, but it’s just not doing what it’s designed for.

“What it isn’t used for at all is during school time, which I think is a great waste because it is ideal for kids to do stuff, and I would like to think that most schools and daycare centres have a space for some sort of physical activity.”

Ellis said he had been in contact with several schools and with Tracey Shepherd at REAP, who has emailed the group of daycare heads, and asked if they were interested in using the facility.

“I want to let as many people know that this is a facility which is available for a wide number of uses, and we’ve invested money in it to make sure it’s as safe to use as it can be.”

Mexted Sports Turf has deep cleaned the turf, relocated the rubber that had migrated to the sides, and repaired some minor damaged areas. WMSST are now just waiting for Sport NZ certification.

Ellis said that school sports days, or daycare activity days would be ideal events during the school day.

He said he is also working closely with Sport Wellington-Wairarapa with their focus on ‘play’, which is unstructured and basically just kids having fun.

“I’m not worried if it’s 15 kids playing football or rugby, I’m just as interested if it’s 15 kids having egg and spoon races or sack races.”

WMSST chairman Dick Davison wants to see more use of Memorial Park.

WMSST chairman Dick Davison said the all-weather surface makes the ground ideal for many uses, and he wants to see it used more.

“Wouldn’t it be nice just to see kids tearing around out there, kicking some sort of ball, and sometimes it will be organised, sometimes it won’t be, but who cares exactly what they do?” he said.

“It wouldn’t matter if it rained just three hours before because this turf is capable of being available, and there are large chunks of time where it sits there and does absolutely nothing.

“I don’t think this community really understands that this is available, and people think it’s a rugby ground, whatever, but this a community asset.”

As for the ground’s main use during the winter sports season with rugby and football sharing the ground, Ellis is working hard to avoid clashes of key events, such as a double booking which resulted in a

Wairarapa-Bush Heartland rugby game being moved to Carterton last October.

“There are some clashes at the peak of the season, in July and August, when everyone wants to use it on Tuesdays and Thursdays,” Ellis said.

“In the calendar, I’ve tried to cater for the unforeseen, such as progress in various competitions, but the organisations seem quite happy to work together.”

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