Member Profile: A Sporting Chance Blacktown
Situated on the Cumberland plain just 35 kilometers west of the Sydney CBD, the City of Blacktown contains 48 suburbs with a population of over 333,000 residents in 247 square kilometers. Although established as a local government area in 1906 Blacktown is in fact young by nature. The average age is five years younger than the rest of the country, with children under 14 making up a whopping 22.8 per cent of the population.
Growing at a rate of 35 per cent more than the national average, one of the challenges for this dynamic city is meeting the community’s health and recreation needs. Blacktown’s bold answer is to develop and build an International Training Centre of Excellence (ICTE), a world-leading multisport high performance, education, sports medicine and accelerated recovery facility. As the centrepiece of the planned Blacktown International Sportspark the ICTE, scheduled to open in 2021, comes with an investment of $100 million to create ‘a great future for sport and health’.
Sharing and implementing such a vision began with extensive community consultation, developing the business case and drafting the best design. Blacktown City Council then went a step further facilitating a Peer Review Panel of experts to examine all aspects of the proposals. Katherine O’Regan, Cities Leadership Institute Executive Director joined the panel which included former Paralympian, Louise Sauvage, Western Sydney Wanderers owner David Slade and star player Ante Covic together with international sports science expert Stephen McGregor. The Panel was given the mandate to drill down into all aspects of the proposed ICTE and make unfettered recommendations as to how this Centre can benefit the whole community for generations to come. Promoting connection with existing recreational and sports facilities, providing uplift for community facilities, ensuring gender equity and maximizing accessibility and inclusivity were all vigorously discussed.
With the final report currently on public exhibition there is no doubt that the vision for Blacktown to be the epicenter for health and sporting excellence for all has moved another step closer to realization.