A grand design: new Jetty Flat Pavilion is boosting women’s sport

Photo credit: Russell's Creek Cricket Club

The new pavilion at Warrnambool’s Jetty Flat Reserve is empowering more women and girls to embrace BMX and cricket.

What do sportspeople need to be successful?

If you're a fan of movies and TV shows, it's possible a few words have popped into your head.

Grit. Determination. Sacrifice.

But what about appropriate, welcoming and fit-for-purpose training facilities?

They make a much bigger difference than you might think and, for women and girls in sport, they aren't always a given.

Just ask the Warrnambool BMX and Russell's Creek Cricket clubs.

Young girl and adult female taking a selfie wearing helmets on BMX bikesUntil recently, the clubs were relying on aged facilities at Jetty Flat Reserve that weren't built with women and girls in mind.

This meant no dedicated changing rooms or toilets for them to use, and great difficulty finding private spaces.

'Our girls used to get changed in their cars,' said Susan Vincent, Warrnambool BMX Club Secretary.

'They just didn't feel comfortable getting changed in the pavilion with the guys.'

‘That was a big problem, because if you don’t feel comfortable or have a sense of belonging at your club, you can’t achieve your full potential on the track or the pitch,’ she added.

Those issues are now a thing of the past, thanks to a major redevelopment of the Jetty Flat Reserve Pavilion.

Backed by $500,000 from the Victorian Government's Local Sports Infrastructure Fund and delivered in partnership with Warrnambool City Council, the redevelopment has been a game changer for the clubs.

Designed by women, for women

Works have created two new unisex changing rooms, an umpire's room, a shared kitchen area, office space and social rooms.

'The pavilion is around 2 and a half times bigger than it was,' said Casey Divall, Lifetime Member of Russell's Creek Cricket Club.

'It's new, it's clean, it feels safe. It means we have a purpose-built space we can show women and girls when they first approach us about joining.'

‘It makes their decision to join the club and take up cricket that much easier,’ added Casey.

An important aspect of the redevelopment was that women from both clubs were invited to provide feedback on the designs.

This ensured the final product would be created by and for women.

'Traditionally, women don't have a dominant voice in sport, so this sort of thing gave us a sense of currency and ownership over the pavilion,' said Casey.

'It helped the women involved to feel that they'd contributed to better outcomes for themselves and their peers. Which made everyone happier with the end result,' she added.

For Susan Vincent, consulting on the design was a way to ensure the layout was appropriate for her membersExterior of new Jetty Flat Pavilion

'We could put pen to paper and work out where the change rooms should go, or where the first aid and umpire rooms should be,' she said.

'This is more important than you might think. For example, you need the first aid room alongside the change rooms.'

'Women and girls must feel welcome and safe in that room, and that they can receive care in a sheltered, private environment,' she added.

'These are not always things that get considered if facilities are planned, designed and built only by men.'

Supporting the community

The Jetty Flat community also received important support from Sport and Recreation Victoria’s place-based staff.

Located across Regional Victoria, these teams provide hands-on help and subject matter expertise to projects such as the pavilion redevelopment.

The team’s early design work with Warrnambool City Council ensured the incorporation of Universal Design principles, making the pavilion a welcoming home for all members of the local clubs and community.

Looking to the future

With the facilities in use and a summer of sport ahead, both clubs are looking forward to taking their programs to the next level.

Russell's Creek Cricket Club is preparing to debut their open women's team and is continuing to build female membership in their mixed junior teams and their girls under-14 team.

Meanwhile, the Warrnambool BMX Club is looking to host more major events and is aiming to attract a national or world series competition within the next 5 years.

For both clubs, the pavilion upgrades are providing an opportunity to build a thriving home for women and girls in their respective sports.

Along the way, they are looking forward to continuing breaking down old gender barriers in community sport.

'You can see these barriers coming down across all sports. Particularly in the younger generations, it's becoming more and more normal for girls to get involved,' said Casey.

'You don't see young boys look twice about being in a team with girls anymore.'

'As long as they can play and train together productively, there's no longer an issue, and that's something I think will continue to progress as we build these safe, equitable spaces,' she added.

The Jetty Flat Reserve Pavilion Redevelopment was delivered in partnership with Warrnambool City Council, which contributed $250,000 to the project.