By Cam Lucadou-Wells
Who said sport and politics don’t mix?
As Doveton Football Netball Club unveiled two premiership flags, it also launched a banner Save The Doveton Pool.
Casey Council has proposed to demolish the 53-year-old Olympic-sized outdoor pool and replace it with parkland.
Currently the plan is under public consultation, with the council insisting no final decision has been made.
But sports club’s football director Martin Stillman said it was important to the club’s viability that the Doveton Pool in the Park remains a pool.
“The Doveton community doesn’t get a lot of love. We want to support the community and not have all the facilities moving outside the Doveton area.
“If we keep the facilities here, we’re likely to keep people here at our club and in the area.
“It effects what we try to do with our junior netball and junior football, in terms of numbers. We need a strong junior program in order to frame a future.”
The club refers to itself as “poor cousins” because of its sparse and “less than desirable” facilities, Mr Stillman says.
“We see where all the money is spent at all these other clubs.”
But it knows something about winning against seemingly insurmountable odds. Its football team went from winless wooden spooners in 2018 to premiers in the space of 12 months.
“The club was close to closing its doors. But rather than folding, it galvanised.
“Everyone realised we needed to contribute to the community club.”
In the meantime, the club has become a foundation member of the White Ribbon movement to end male violence against women and girls. The white ribbon is part of the club’s logo.
It delivers junior programs for “under cost” price so as not to exclude families from one of Melbourne’s most economically disadvantaged suburbs.
The club achieved an honourable mention in the Victorian Multicultural Awards 2020 for multicultural harmony.
Its football and netball teams unveiled their two 2019 premiership flags on 24 April – belatedly due to Covid lockdowns last year.
According to a recent Casey report on the pool, Doveton had sufficient community facilities with an “over provision” of “accessible” aquatic alternatives such as Dandenong Oasis, Casey ARC and several learn-to-swim programs.
It’s released a draft concept plan that would replace the pool with possible playgrounds, a water play splash-pad, barbecues and a group shelter on the site.
Casey city and asset planning manager Keri New said no decision had been made on the pool’s future.
“We are seeking feedback about how the pool is currently used and the community’s thoughts on potentially transforming the site.
“The proposed concept outlines potential options for the site that the community has told us in previous consultations they would like to see at this location.”
Ms New said the current public consultation was “widely publicised”, including letters to more than 6500 residents in the area.
“More than 270 residents have also completed the survey, which will remain open until Friday 14 May.”
The survey is at conversations.casey.vic.gov.au/doveton-pool-in-the-park-concept-plan