Netballers pleased with £100m sports facilities plan

JERSEY’S netball chief says plans to turn Oakfield into a central venue for the sport represent a ‘weight off the shoulders’ – although she admitted ‘shock’ at the suggestion that it may not be for their sole use.

The outdoor courts at Oakfield Sports Centre could become Jersey netball's new home, following the construction of 'frame and fabric' indoor facility Picture: COLLETTE BISSON
The outdoor courts at Oakfield Sports Centre could become Jersey netball's new home, following the construction of 'frame and fabric' indoor facility Picture: COLLETTE BISSON

The Government of Jersey unveiled a ten-year, £100m proposal to improve the Island’s network of sports facilities on Thursday, with Oakfield and Springfield in line for development from as early as January 2022.

Earlier this year, Jersey Netball Association president Linda Andrews emphasised the need to ‘get something finalised’ for Island netball, whose main venue at Les Ormes is set to be demolished in 2023.

Under the ‘Inspiring Active Places’ strategy, a ‘frame and fabric’ facility would be constructed over the existing courts at Oakfield, alongside the development of new floodlit 3G pitch and installation of permanent gymnastics equipment.

‘It’s great that [the strategy] actually says “home for netball”,’ said Andrews. ‘That really lifted my spirits as before we had just been told there would be a facility that netball could use – and that is very different to being a home for netball. There are still a lot of things they need to look at, but on the positive side it is just great that they have made netball a priority and are looking at getting it built quite quickly.

‘It’s a massive weight off the shoulders.’

The strategy alludes to plans for a similar facility to be erected at Les Quennevais but Jersey Sport chief executive Catriona McAllister – the project director – confirmed that the ‘frame and fabric’ proposal has been amended in light of developments at Fort Regent.

Oakfield and Springfield are on course to host the sports soon to be evicted from the Fort, until the proposed eastern sport and wellbeing hub at Le Rocquier is completed in 2024.

‘The original report was done a while ago and at that time the thinking was to create the home of netball at Les Quennevais,’ said McAllister. ‘As time went on, we started thinking about alternatives for Fort Regent and that has changed some of the original thinking around a number of facilities. So there will be an eight-court sports hall built at Les Quennevais, but not a frame and fabric.’

McAllister explained that the sports leaving Fort Regent will eventually move to Le Rocquier, which is itself set for considerable development – including a fitness suite, full-size 3G pitch and, potentially, a swimming pool. However, they will first share Oakfield with netball.

‘That is quite a shock to me,’ Andrews said. ‘I don’t know how that is going to be accommodated as netball is a seven-days-a-week sport. It’s quite worrying. Our programme will also have to be extended time-wise, as we currently operate on four courts but plans [for Oakfield] are for three courts. The only slot I can see which will be available for other sports will be a Sunday afternoon.’

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