Published: 7 Dec 2021
Please note: Images in this article were taken before current COVID-19 safety measures were in place.
The local sporting oval is often the heart of a small suburb or town. For The Pines community in Frankston North, the Eric Bell Pavilion is exactly that and, in many ways, much more.
The Pines was built in the 1960s as a commission housing estate. To live there, families had to have at least three children and, for them, the sports facilities were a safe haven and a second home.
“I remember there being thousands of children everywhere, so growing up on The Pines was fantastic – there were children in every house,” Pines Football Club President Jeff Svigos said.
“Whenever we played footy, cricket, soccer or whatever sport that was available, we always had hundreds of children playing,” he said. “It was a great place to grow up and once it’s in your blood, it stays there.”
“As time went by the children grew up and moved away, so we had less children playing at the local sporting clubs.”
Jeff was one of the children who grew up and moved away. But, five years ago, he made the decision to return to his roots.
After arriving back home, he noticed there weren’t many children involved in the football club.
“The club had a 50th reunion and everyone was talking about the old days,” he said. “The new club president asked me if I would come on board to help expand the club.”
Jeff accepted and, these days, the Pines Football Club is doing everything possible to welcome new faces, including extending membership beyond the 3200 postcode.
That campaign will be boosted by Eric Bell Pavilion’s $6.75 million facelift. Outdoor toilets, gender-diverse change rooms and multifunctional event spaces, including clubrooms, are among the new additions.
“Getting the social rooms is the icing on the cake – that will really kick it off,” Jeff added.
“Bringing all of the local clubs back together again and opening it up to the community is what we want to do.
“The Pines is going through a renewal now and young families are starting to move to the area, so we want the club to be part of this new community.”
Pines Cricket Club President Brad Saunders also lived in The Pines when he was younger and returned to the club some years later.
“My parents grew up in the Pines and they speak of it as an amazing time,” Brad said. “It basically shaped me as a person.”
Mr Saunders’ father was president in the club’s early days while Brad played in the juniors.
“The club would always be there to look after the kids because, regardless of their background, they could come to the club and be part of a family,” he said.
“We’re working really hard to bring people back to the club, particularly as the community starts to change and grow. These new facilities will help change the whole perception of the club.”
The Eric Bell Pavilion project is supported by $6.25 from the Victorian Government’s 2020 Community Sports Infrastructure Loans Scheme and a $500,000 Sport and Recreation Victoria Local Sports Grant. Construction is scheduled to begin by mid-2022, with works due to be completed in late 2023.
For more information about infrastructure grant opportunities available through the Victorian Government visit sport.vic.gov.au.