THE development of elite junior cricketers in the south-west is under threat following the closure of Warrnambool’s Action Fitness Centre in January.
The destruction of the Mortlake Road centre, to make way for a new fire station, will rob Western Waves of a venue for their off-season development programs.
The situation is nearing crisis point for president Kelvin White and manager Stephen Field, who have spent the past month searching for a new facility.
They have the equipment — indoor nets, two bowling machines — but nowhere to house it. Securing a 40-metre by 30-metre shed has become an urgent priority.
White said access to Action Fitness Centre had been invaluable to the Waves, who used the facility extensively during winter and leading up to the season.
“Action were very good to us. They made it available to our pathway players and it was able to be booked by local clubs and local associations,” he said.
“It was a terrific arrangement because our pathway players had pretty much free access when they required. It was pretty important to the way our program ran.”
White said he and Field had canvassed a handful of potential options for a new facility, to no avail.
The Warrnambool Indoor Cricket and Netball Centre is too small, although discussions with the owners of the Warrnambool Indoor Tennis Centre are ongoing.
A potential option at Port Fairy has emerged, although remains only that, while the cost of building a facility is beyond the Waves’ financial means.
Warrnambool City Council is aware of the issue but has likewise been unable to help. The Waves have also approached Premier Denis Napthine.
“Because they’ve decided to use the Action space as the fire services building, they might be able to find a little bit more money to house our nets,” he said.
White said securing a new facility was imperative for the development of young cricketers and the sport in general in the south-west.
“A lot of our trial sessions, our off-season coaching, it’s been great to have that facility to carry out that without the worry of the weather,” he said.
“The size of the area at Action was terrific, it allowed a good run-up for bowlers. Things like the (indoor) cricket centre wouldn’t allow that.
“The people who used to come down for Diamonds in the Bush thought it was a terrific area, a terrific resource.”
Warrnambool Squash Club is also on the hunt for a new home following the closure of Action, although it believes it has found a solution.
Club officials are quietly confident of resurrecting the former six-court squash centre on Timor Street, last used for competition seven years ago.