The Essendon Football Club has today welcomed the Federal Opposition commitment of $4 million to support the second stage of development of the Bombers’ home base, The Hangar, if elected at the next Federal Election.
Connected to the existing state-of-the-art club facilities, the Community, Education and Events Centre (CEEC) project is in direct partnership with the Australian Paralympic Committee (APC).
Alongside APC Chairman Jock O’Callaghan, hallmark Paralympic athletes Milly Tapper and Danni Di Toro, Essendon Chief Executive Xavier Campbell and senior coach John Worsfold, the Leader of the Opposition Hon Bill Shorten MP made the announcement at The Hangar on Tuesday morning.
Federal Labor’s investment will support the expansion of disability sporting programs, strengthening the partnership with the construction of wheelchair-accessible dormitory accommodation, improving access to facilities at The Hangar for athletes with disabilities, reducing APC program operating costs and providing new opportunities for disability sport participation and talent identification activities.
The development will also enhance education facilities for the delivery of programs for people of all abilities, local and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and multicultural communities.
Leader of the Opposition Hon Bill Shorten MP congratulated the APC and the Essendon Football Club for the strength of their partnership.
“There is no easy journey to make it to the pinnacle of elite sport, and our Para-sport athletes know this better than anyone,” Shorten said.
“Our Para-sport athletes work incredibly hard to be the best, and access to world-class training facilities can make a massive difference.
“I congratulate the Australian Paralympic Committee and the Essendon Football Club for forming this partnership, and I’m very proud that if we’re elected, a Labor Government will put in the funding to ensure more Para-athletes have the opportunity to train at The Hangar.
“Australia’s Paralympians are among the best in the world and they deserve access to the world’s best facilities.”
APC Chief Executive Lynne Anderson said the funding would comprehensively support the APC’s overarching vision to support and nurture the participation and development of Australians with a disability through physical activity.
“Our relationship with the Essendon Football Club dates back more than a decade. From the moment it was conceived, it’s been a game changer for the APC and Paralympic sport in Australia.
“The Australian Paralympic Committee and the Essendon Bombers are partners in every sense of the word. We come from different sporting worlds but our values, our culture, our respect for our people and our history are paramount in everything we do.
“This partnership creates opportunities and it delivers results. Most importantly, it helps bridge what is a massive gap for people with a disability to participate in sport at the level of their choice.
“We are grateful that the Leader of the Opposition and his party have recognised the power of this partnership and our ability to convert additional investment into world-class performances and future success for the Australian Paralympic movement.”
Campbell welcomed this morning’s announcement and said it would strengthen the Club’s partnership with the APC.
“The Essendon Football Club is incredibly proud of our longstanding relationship with the Australian Paralympic Committee. Every day we are in the fortunate position to see first-hand how inspiring these athletes are,” Campbell said.
“We are grateful for the support of the Leader of the Opposition, Hon Bill Shorten MP and his party for their ongoing commitment to the EFC and APC partnership.
“We are a proud partner of the APC, have an inaugural Essendon team in the Victorian Wheelchair Football League (VWFL) and work closely with AFL Victoria on other disability sporting programs such as AllPlay and FIDA.
“The new development phase of The Hangar will considerably improve and increase the resources available to Paralympic athletes and people in our community with a disability. The development will also see the establishment of a dedicated museum and respective Hall of Fame spaces to showcase the history of the Paralympic movement in Australia.
“As girl’s and women’s participation in sport more broadly continues to grow across the country, the CEEC development will also importantly enable the creation of public amenities and unisex change facilities to support increased usage of the existing community oval at The Hangar. These facilities will also directly benefit participants in our local EDFL and RDFL football leagues.
“The facility expansion is very much about driving an even greater impact into the community. At a Board level, it was felt one of the key priorities was delivering greater community outcomes to key stakeholders, and this development will significantly enable that vision, with our organisation proudly working closely alongside the APC.
“We anticipate The Hangar project being completed by 2021 to align with our celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Club.
“However, we will require further support of the Essendon network and look forward to continuing our positive conversations with all levels of Government – including the State Government – to bring this vitally important community project to fruition.”
Essendon’s partnership with the APC officially commenced in 2013 with the development of The Hangar in Tullamarine, Melbourne.
By Essendon FC Media