Football Wagga has welcomed $450,000 in federal funding for lighting at Rawlings Park as a critical first step in their ambitious plan to revamp the home of soccer in Wagga.
Federal Member for Riverina, Michael McCormack, announced the grant under the community sport infrastructure program. The money will go towards lights for three more fields at Rawlings Park.
"What this is going to do is help Football Wagga Wagga to build the light towers it needs to have further fields to be able to host night games and of course, training," McCormack said.
"I'm delighted to make this announcement not just because I'm a former Henwood Park juniors coach, not because I'm one of those soccer dads who spent many, many winter Saturday mornings right here at Rawlings Park, but it's good for health, it's good for fitness, it's good for regional sport and it's certainly good for the infrastructure of our sporting facilities across the Riverina."
President of Football Wagga, Tony Dobbin, said lights for three more fields at Rawlings will double the grounds available for evening training and games.
Describing the fields situation as 'dire' for an organisation with 13 clubs and 3000 registered players, Dobbin said it's exciting to take the first step towards raising $10 million for a Rawlings Park redevelopment.
"It's first time we've actually got a major grant of this nature, but it does set the ball rolling," Dobbin said.
"It does say to us that we can keep going. It also says that the community is behind us and there's a recognition that sport - regardless of whether it's our game or any game - sport is important to the community, it's important to have the facilities for us."
Dobbin said it sends a message to all levels of government that their vision for the site is worthwhile.
"Basically it's the catalyst we think," he said.
"By being able to be here today and have the grant formally announced, it says to the Wagga community but also to the Riverina - because eight of our clubs come from outside Wagga - it basically says, 'It's a goer.'
"It really says it's happening and it's a big signal to the community."
Mr McCormack commended Football Wagga on its vision for the site.
The improved infrastructure will also be of benefit to cricket in the summer.