By Kyra Gillespie
If finding a training ground was the goal, then the Cardinia Shire Council would be the goalie.
Officer City Soccer Club has gone head-to head with the council since September last year to find a suitable ground to train on.
But despite months of struggle, the newly-formed club has finally found a place to call home.
The club was initially formed by a group of parents who, dissatisfied with the only soccer club in the Pakenham area, decided to form another club.
“Our journey started last year in September and our contacts with council haven’t yielded any positive results in terms of assistance with getting a facility for our club,” Officer City Soccer Club president Thai Nguyen said.
“We’ve recently has some luck at John Henry Primary School as this facility is not run by council but by the YMCA.
“We are so relieved to finally find somebody out there who cares about soccer and the club.”
The Officer City Soccer Club kicked off their training sessions in early March, to great success.
“Currently our offerings are fun soccer skills and activities for players from the ages of four to 11,” Mr Nguyen said.
“Our oval’s capacity is 40 players at any time in 4 groups, which is a little bit limiting.
“We don’t have council’s support for a facility yet, but we will continue to work with them to secure a place in Officer that’s large enough to field senior 11-a-side matches, have floodlights to enable soccer after hours and has canteen facilities to provide refreshments to the community.
“We’re making the most of what we’ve got.”
Feeling similarly constrained by the lack of available facilities, the council said it was developing “a master plan” to support the growing interest in soccer in the shire.
The council’s manager of active communities Kristen Jackson said the growth of soccer and other field-based sports in Cardinia Shire had been strong.
“Consequently, existing council-owned facilities suitable for a soccer club are fully allocated at this time,” Ms Jackson said.
“As part of our commitment to providing our community members with great facilities for physical activity, we are currently developing a master plan for McMullan Recreation Reserve in Officer, which is earmarked for a new soccer facility.
“In the future, a facility like this one could support new clubs such as Officer Soccer Club.”
In the interim, Ms Jackson advises that the club use available school facilities.
“Council staff have been in close communication with the newly-formed Officer Soccer Club since late
last year,” she said.
“Our discussions have centred on what we are doing to explore options for the club, including the club potentially using local school facilities in the short to medium term as it establishes and grows.”
To find out more about training times and to keep updated on the clubs’ development, visit the Officer City Soccer Club Facebook page, or contact OfficerCitySc@gmail.com.