AFL Queensland’s ambitious facilities’ plan



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Australia AFL Queensland Facilities Plan Image: AFL Queensland

 

AFL Queensland Facilities Plan 2020-2025

The Australian Football League (AFL) is soaring in popularity across Queensland with 2019 participation numbers reaching a record high of 277,703. This translates into an increase of 54 percent in total participation (community, Auskick and school programs) over the past five years.

As AFL strives to be Queensland’s most progressive and accessible team sport, they boast more than 116,725 women and girls participating in programs and competitions, 42 percent of their total participation base.

The Australian Football League (AFL) is the pre-eminent and only fully professional men’s competition of Australian rules football. Through the AFL Commission, the AFL also serves as the sport’s governing body, and is responsible for controlling the laws of the game.

AFL Queensland is the governing body of Australian rules football in Queensland. AFL Queensland has over 216,000 participants playing at all levels of football from the introductory NAB AFL Auskick program to the AFL Masters Competition. AFL Queensland covers 13 regions, 24 leagues and 159 clubs.

Inspired by this ongoing participation growth and the changing profile of participants, AFL is realizing the need to push for fit-for-purpose facilities.

AFL feels that providing safe, accessible, and welcoming facilities will keep players and officials engaged in the game into the future.

To this end, the State Facilities Plan 2020-2025 has been developed by analyzing a range of data collected annually by the AFL and through close consultation with clubs, councils and Government.

The sheer size of Queensland and its decentralized population makes each region unique and AFL Queensland remains focused on working with key stakeholders including clubs, councils and Government to deliver accessible and appropriate facilities so everyone can enjoy the sport.

The document (State Facilities Plan 2020-2025) sets the strategic framework to support further investment across the AFL network in Queensland to ensure the game continues to thrive in this challenging northern market and be the sport of choice for many years to come.
 

Planning principles

The facility planning process can be long and substantial. Whilst extensive, the effort involved in planning will reap rewards once the facility comes up and becomes operational. AFL Queensland feels that a large facility development is often a once in a generation project. As such, it is important to get it right.

The steps below highlight a typical facility planning process from initial idea through to construction. The level of detail required in each stage of the process will depend on the scale of the project, but typically the key principles and steps remain the same.
 

Stage 1 takes a look at the ‘Needs Assessment’ part:

  • The key questions are – What do AFL Queensland want to achieve, why and who for?;
  • Key information – What are the local demographic growth trends, who are AFL Queensland’s key local partners (council, other clubs and community organizations) and what do they wish to achieve?; and
  • Decision point – Is it better to utilize AFL Queensland’s existing facility, upgrade the existing facility or build a new facility?

 

Stage 2 takes a look at ‘Feasibility and Site Assessment’:

  • Key questions – What does AFL Queensland wish to build, where do they build it, how much will it cost, who are the funding partners and how do they make it work?;
  • Key information – Conducting a site assessment, visiting other new facilities, consulting with key partners, preparing draft concept and management plans, analyzing management, operational and life cycle costs; and
  • Decision points – Shall AFL Queensland proceed, modify, postpone or stage the development, or abandon the proposal?

 

Stage 3 takes a look at ‘Detailed Design and Costing’:

  • Key questions – What scale of facility does AFL Queensland require?; and
  • Key information – Preparing a design brief, preparing a project budget, seeking the necessary approvals, appointing a design team, developing detailed designs and costings.

 

Stage 4 takes a look at ‘Construction’:

  • Facility construction and commissioning.

 

Keeping a record

In order to further support the planning of facilities upgrades, AFL Queensland regularly audits each club’s facility. These audits provide objective feedback relating to how each facility compares with the AFL Preferred Facilities Guidelines and advises community clubs on project priorities at their ovals.
 

AFL prescription

It is recognized that not all community football facilities can be, or need to be, developed to the same standard. In 2012, the AFL published a national document to guide community football clubs in the development of their facilities infrastructure. The AFL Preferred Facilities Guidelines for State, Regional & Local Facilities specifies preferred standards of facilities provision to support the delivery of club programs and activities at all levels below the professional national competition.

The document has been developed in order to guide clubs, leagues, schools and councils in the design of new community football facilities and provide direction regarding the refurbishment of existing infrastructure. It is acknowledged that many existing facilities in Queensland and the New South Wales (NSW) Northern Rivers (a region in Australia’s NSW) may not presently meet the AFL Preferred Facilities Guidelines. In instances where this is the case, the guidelines should be used as a key tool during the project planning phase to inform any facilities improvement designs that are developed.

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