Cronulla Sharks centre of excellence to benefit club and community

Home grown: The next generation of local juniors, like Aquinas Colts product Jayden Brailey, could benefit greatly from a Sharks centre of excellence. Picture: John Veage
Home grown: The next generation of local juniors, like Aquinas Colts product Jayden Brailey, could benefit greatly from a Sharks centre of excellence. Picture: John Veage

The Cronulla Sharks are hopeful an $8 million state government grant to build a centre of excellence will help the club establish an even greater footprint in the community.

Minister for Sport Stuart Ayres announced on Tuesday $50 million in funding for five NRL clubs including Canterbury ($2 million), Newcastle ($10 million), South Sydney ($8.696 million) and the Sydney Roosters ($5.765 million).

Government funding must be matched dollar for dollar from NRL clubs and/or third parties, with government investment not allowed to exceed more than 50 per cent of the project costs.

The Sharks said in a statement they would continue to explore their options in further developing concepts for their centre of excellence. However, Cronulla’s centre of excellence is planned as a multi-purpose facility, a sporting, community and education hub that would also act as the home of Cronulla’s community programs.

Cronulla’s interim CEO Paul Eriksson said the centre would have great benefits for the club as well as the community.

An artist's impression of Cronulla's centre of excellence. Picture: Supplied

An artist's impression of Cronulla's centre of excellence. Picture: Supplied

“We thank Mr Ayres and his government for their consideration of the Sharks proposal and for the funds they have allocated to us,” he said.

“This provides the club with a great opportunity to take major steps forward and will allow us to make an enormous social and sporting impact in our community.

“A centre of excellence is a key part of our strategy to grow grassroots participation, community programs, to deliver better outcomes for our junior pathways and elite programs and to provide facilities of the highest possible standard to support our NRL team.

“It will also be the first time the club is housed in a single facility.”

As well as the Sharks, Bulldogs, Roosters, Rabbitohs and Knights, funding reservations have been made for Manly and the Wests Tigers as they develop their proposals. $10 million has been set aside for the Sea Eagles to build a centre of excellence at Brookvale, while $5.5 million is available for stage one of the Tigers’ facility.

Local boy: Sharks premiership-winning halfback Chad Townsend during pre-season training at Southern Cross Group Stadium earlier this year. Picture: John Veage

Local boy: Sharks premiership-winning halfback Chad Townsend during pre-season training at Southern Cross Group Stadium earlier this year. Picture: John Veage

Mr Ayres said the development of the centres would provide multi-purpose facilities that offer promising young athletes and high performance athletes with world-class training and development in their local area.

“They also provide NRL clubs an opportunity to maintain a strong presence in traditional communities as the government prioritises capital investment into a targeted number of NSW government venues,” Mr Ayres said.

NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said the facilities would make a difference in local communities.

“We want people playing sport and the best way to do that is to provide world class facilities where people can seek to improve their skills and that is exactly what this funding will deliver,” he said.

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