An Auckland Council backed project supporting female participation in sport has reached a major milestone.
The $7 million redevelopment of Michaels Avenue Community Centre is complete, after 15 years in progress and a staged roll-out of major improvements to the grounds and building.
Deputy Mayor Desley Simpson is a long-standing supporter of the Ellerslie project because of the potential for multiple community benefits – on top of allowing Ellerslie football and cricket clubs based there to grow.
“It was an honour to open the facility. Believe it or not I was involved in getting the ball rolling on this project and have been fully supportive of the investment since my days as the Ōrākei Local Board chair. This is a brilliant asset for all to use and I’m sure it will become a vibrant hub of activity that is enjoyed by the entire community,” Deputy Mayor Simpson says.
Stage one of Michaels Ave Redevelopment Plan provided artificial playing surfaces to the centre’s upper fields around 10 years ago, allowing improved field capacity and more football and cricket playing hours with the addition of new floodlighting.
Stage two resulted in the resurfacing of lower fields and more floodlights being installed.
The grand finale culminated in a long-awaited opening ceremony on 2 September 2023 for the centre’s showpiece – a modern pavilion with a large meeting room, new toilets and a separate female changing area.
The complete revamp enabled Michaels Avenue Community Centre to achieve FIFA standards in time for FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023.
It has also provided an opportunity to support female football at its grassroots, at a time when the number of female players in the area continues to rise – from 65 in 2012 to 435 in 2023.
Ōrākei Local Board chair Scott Milne says, while the new community centre has been a long time in the making, it is an excellent example of strong relationships.
“Governing body, Ōrākei Local Board, external organisations, private philanthropists and the local sports clubs have worked together for the final outcome: a modern, sustainable, fit for purpose facility. An uplifting result for the community!,” says Mr Milne.
Auckland Council supported the Michaels Ave project to the tune of $3.425 million in funding.
The project was also supported by Maungakiekie-Tāmaki Ward Councillor Josephine Bartley who voted in favour of allocating regional funding to the facility.
“Congratulations to everyone involved and for all the work that has gone into this fantastic project. It is great to see a high-standard facility located within Maungakiekie-Tāmaki Ward – making it accessible to more of our community,” says Councillor Bartley.
Various other agencies also provided significant support, including NZ Community Trust, Foundation North, Grassroots Trust and NZ Lotteries Commission.