News / Sport

Hockey club’s bid for a new home

Two years shy of its centenary, Brunswick Hockey Club is looking to the future

Action from a match earlier this season between men’s teams from Brunswick and Camberwell.

Mark Phillips
Monday, June 14, 2021

BRUNSWICK Hockey Club has a problem. It’s a problem any sporting club would like to have: its membership is increasing so quickly it has outgrown its home base.

With its centenary just two years away in 2023, the club has set its sights on a new purpose built home pitch within Moreland that could double as a community centre when not being used for hockey.

Moreland Council has backed the vision, allocating $40,000 to investigate options for a second pitch and clubrooms.

Since 2008, the club has played on a synthetic pitch at Brunswick Secondary College which is used by the school during the day, but maintains its clubrooms almost 1.5km away at Wylie Reserve in Brunswick West. The synthetic surface was relaid in 2018.

The move to Brunswick Secondary College was the start of a growth period at the club. Total playing numbers have grown from 276 in 2010 to 522 this year, largely spurred by growth of juniors and women.

This year the club is fielding 30 teams, compared to 20 a decade ago and it was the top club for junior recruitment in metropolitan Melbourne in 2020.

“What’s driven that growth has been our shift to engage with the community,” said club spokesman Dean Paatsch.

He said the club conducted 2400 clinics in primary schools last year despite the impact of Covid-19, and its community outreach also included after school clinics for children in public housing estates, and an active program of six-a-side social hockey for international students.

“It’s an inclusive team sport with an emphasis on participation — perfect for kids who aren’t the fastest or most aggressive in the pack,” said Mr Paatsch, who plays socially himself and has had children playing at Brunswick for six years.

But he said this popularity had stretched the current facilities to the limit.

“We’re at the point where the growth has been so strong we’re rationing training places and there’s not enough space for the existing number of teams to train the right amount of time they should be,” Mr Paatsch said.

“The existing ground doesn’t have club rooms, hot water, showers, female friendly changing rooms, or any seating.

“We need more capacity.”

The impact is that training sessions are held at times that are not always easily accessible for working parents, and matches often have to be held as late as 9.30pm.

Moreland Councillors agree and have approved the spending of $40,000 on a feasibility study into a second pitch and facilities.

“I just hope the feasibility study thinks outside the box and is creative and doesn’t just propose [using] existing open space land but has a look at acquisitions, has a look at other council facilities or other state [government] land within the area,” said South Ward Cr Lambros Tapinos.

“I would be really pleased and excited to see another sports facility in our city.”

Deputy Mayor Mark Riley also backs a second pitch, although he has some misgivings about it having a synthetic surface.

Mr Paatsch said the club was “location agnostic” and would work with the council to develop a facility that was available for other uses to “maximise the community dividend”.

One potential model could be to share rooms with a senior citizens centre or playgroup and even another sporting club during hockey’s off-season in summer.

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