Sport

Queanbeyan Australian rules teams could be forced off home ground

Rockley Oval at Googong is set to go unused by AFL teams throughout winter if council decides to cover the cricket pitch with an unapproved synthetic cover.

Queanbeyan City councillors discussed the motion to either remove and relocate the cricket pitch from the oval, or retain the pitch and cover it on Wednesday night.

Councillor Kenrick Winchester put forward an alternative to remove the pitch for the winter AFL season and decide where to re-lay it for summer.

"We can't leave cricket high and dry, but we cannot leave that pitch as it is," Winchester said. "What we're saying is if you don't remove the cricket pitch, AFL have firmly said there is no cover they could support, that they could insure for."

Winchester said the real problem was a severe lack of sporting grounds in Queanbeyan, which could be addressed by bringing Margaret Donohue lower or Queanbeyan Showground ovals back on line.

After the motion was deferred by a majority, Winchester called for an urgent meeting between councillors and Queanbeyan AFL and cricket teams to discuss the issue. He said if it was not resolved very soon, there would be no sport being played there.

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Community and AFL Canberra operations manager Gary Lawless said there was no approved covering that could be used by the AFL on the oval.

"Basically it means they are uninsured," he said, of any player who used the field.

"The Googong Hogs, who have based themselves out of Rockley Oval, and the Queanbeyan Tigers juniors would be unable to schedule matches there."

"They've just got to understand that there is an accreditation process that these synthetic surfaces need to go through as far as AFL is concerned," he said, and none currently available meet the criteria.

However, he said, if the cricket pitch was moved to one side and not in the centre of the oval, it could be re-layed so it was slightly sunk, to allow turf to be planted over it for the following AFL season.

Googong is set to have more ovals come on line as the population grows. The NSW government announced on Friday a grant of $30,000 in funding to the Monaro Panthers Football Club for infrastructure improvements at Duncan Oval in Googong.

The member for Monaro and NSW Minister for Regional Development, John Barilaro, said the funds would be used for new spectator seating, barriers and portable goals.

"The Duncan Ovals offer fantastic multipurpose facilities with change rooms, public toilet facilities, covering for spectators and lighting," Barilaro said.

"These new developments in seating, barriers and goals will ensure the growing number of residents, families, school kids and sports fans in the Queanbeyan region can enjoy these facilities for years to come."

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