The Commonwealth Bank Matildas will have a new home as construction begins at the La Trobe University Sports Park in Victoria.
Designs for the Home of the Matildas have been released with the state-of-the-art facility to become one of the most advanced women’s sport facilities in the entire Asia-Pacific region.
Last May, the Victorian government announced the biggest funding grant in the history of Australian football, dedicating just over $100 million – on top of the federal government’s $15 million a year earlier – to construct the world-class Home of the Matildas centre in Bundoora, north-east of Melbourne.
Over the next year, stage one of the project will deliver five hybrid, natural and synthetic pitches, with grandstand seating for over 800 spectators and a full capacity in excess of 3,000 around the show pitch.
Currently, just one-fifth of football grounds across Australia have change-rooms for women, with thousands of potential players being turned away due to a lack of available facilities.
Football Australia is planning to address this issue as part of the Legacy ’23 project – an ambitious plan comprising of five pillars of participation, community facilities, leadership and development, tourism and international engagement and high performance that partner together to deliver continuing outcomes for football beyond the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, to be co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand.
As part of the Legacy ’23 project, Football Australia will create a Female Football Facilities Legacy Fund. This fund will be distributed to clubs and associations around the country to help them construct and upgrade change-rooms, pitches, lighting and drainage in order to capture the expected boom in female participants during and after the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
The Home of the Matildas will not only benefit the Matildas, but also women footballers from grassroots, through to NPLW and junior youth national team programs.
The new facility will consist of:
- Five full-sized pitches (including one FIFA-approved show pitch with broadcast capabilities and 1,000-seat grandstand)
- A purpose-built international futsal court
- A 400-square-metre bespoke high-performance gym
- A sports science and high performance research centre
- A Matildas-only central changing-room
- Recovery rooms (including plunge pools and an ‘endless river’ with jet streams for hydrotherapy)
- Multiple change-rooms for players and match officials
- An 80-seat auditorium and meeting rooms for coach education and media production
- A players’ lounge with study spaces, sleep pods and prayer rooms
- Gender-neutral public amenities
- A front-facing lobby cafe that players specifically asked for to mingle with fans and visitors
Football Victoria President, Antonella Care, was delighted that work will begin on the site.
“Victorian football has waited a long time for a project of this scale, a development that truly matches the lofty ambitions we have for our game,” she said.
“We are thrilled to see the first works begin in this landmark precinct, a true home of football in Victoria, which will have a significant impact on the development of the women’s game and football overall, for decades to come.”
Matthew Green, who was the senior executive manager of business services at Football Victoria, said the new facility is “designed by women and for women”, from the configuration of the gym and its equipment to the design of the Matildas-only circular changing-room.
“There are some subtle differences with this set-up compared with standard gyms, which are mainly focused around men,” Green said.
“One is that there’s less focus on the power racks and heavy machines and more on cardio and equipment specifically designed for women. One thing we’re conscious of is the proliferation of ACL injuries in women athletes, so we’ve got particular treadmills that help with prevention and rehabilitation in athletes.”
“We want this to be an aspirational facility … where a young girl walks in and we get to see that magical moment where they say, ‘this is where I could be one day’.”