THE controversial acrylic surface on the Friendly Societies’ Park main netball court will be torn up and resurfaced before the new season starts.
Warrnambool City Council confirmed work to remove the controversial artificial surface and replace it with a new asphalt coating will start this week.
It is hoped the work will be complete in time for the first South Warrnambool home game on April 12, although the club has been advised to have a contingency plan in place in case of delays. The acrylic surface was laid in 2006 after a Netball Victoria audit recommended it be used at both the South Warrnambool and Bushfield courts.
However, it proved to be too slippery in the rain and further work was carried out to apply a different acrylic surface at both courts.
The upgrade was successful at Bushfield but the main court at the Friendlies remained dangerously slippery and has been rendered useless in wet weather since. A second asphalt court at the reserve, used during wet weather, is not considered to be at Netball Victoria standards.
The South Warrnambool Football Netball Club has campaigned for the courts to be resurfaced for seven years, the issue coming to a head in June last year when junior netballer Genevieve Pope slipped and broke her leg in two places during a 13 and under match.
That incident came just weeks after the club wrote to mayor Michael Neoh and the city council’s chief executive officer Bruce Anson calling for action.
At the time the club accused the council of showing a “lack of support” to fix the problem.
Warrnambool City Council recreation and youth co-ordinator Kim White said after discussions between the council and club it was decided an asphalt surface would provide a safer court that would be less slippery in wet conditions.
She said drainage improvements and the new coat of asphalt will cost an estimated $40,000.
“This is a practical outcome for the netball club and netballers,” she said.
“The asphalt and associated drainage work will provide a safer surface for the 2014 netball season and beyond.”
South Warrnambool president Jock O’Connor said the club supported the move to replace the acrylic surface.
“If we didn’t resurface now there is a chance the court might not be playable for a substantial part of the 2014 home-and-away season,” Mr O’Connor said.
“This decision provides certainty for our netballers but also to visiting teams.
“They will know the surface they are playing on and feel confident about what they are able to do on court during games.”