In the remote Indigenous community of Santa Teresa, 80km south-east of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory, sits a red dirt oval made up entirely of clay.The ground is hard and unstable, those who are brave enough to play their beloved Australian Football often succumb to injury and participation is rapidly decreasing.
The dust kicked up from the red dirt presents challenges for the local school, situated next to the oval, who would like to use it daily for their students’ sporting activities. Challenges include the dust becoming hazardous to those with breathing difficulties and anecdotally being linked to the increase in eye disease (Trachoma) cases.
The state of the oval has also made programs such as AFL Auskick or athletics near impossible to implement with any consistency as dust-settling rain is only expected for one to three weeks of a year.
The Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC) Foundation is pleased to announce it has become the Major Partner to the joint venture between the Melbourne Football Club and the Atyenhenge Atherre Aboriginal Corporation to re-grass the Santa Teresa Oval.
The project will bring about sustainable change that will have a positive impact in Santa Teresa and the central desert regions far beyond the oval itself.
The four-year commitment by the MCC Foundation sees a significant investment made to ensure the project will not only be feasible, but also sustainable long into the future.
The MCC Foundation chair and Vice President Sally Macindoe said the aim of the partnership is to support an initiative which encourages locals to enjoy and participate in the playing of sport.
“It was an obvious fit for the MCC Foundation to partner with the Melbourne Football Club’s project to re-grass the Santa Teresa Oval,” Ms Macindoe said.
“Much like the role the MCG plays in uniting the wider Australian community, our hope is that a redeveloped oval in Santa Teresa becomes the central point of connection for local communities.
“We’re so pleased to put our support behind this project and can’t wait to see the first bounce of the Sherrin at the Santa Teresa Oval in early 2020.”
In a further contribution from the MCC Foundation, the MCG curators will also provide support and guidance to the project.
MCG Arenas Manager Michael Salvatore recently visited the Santa Teresa community to provide his advice to the team re-grassing the oval.
“It’s an amazing opportunity to create the ‘MCG of the Desert’ in partnership with the MCC Foundation, and together we’ll make a fantastic impact to the community of Santa Teresa,” Melbourne Football Club’s CEO Gary Pert said.
“Re-grassing the oval is something that we are incredibly proud and passionate about as a Club.”
Construction is under way at the oval with the all-important irrigation system currently being installed. The project is on track to be completed by March 2020.
Major Partner the MCC Foundation joins other Project Partners including: Northern Territory Government, HR Products, Hunter and AFL NT.
To find out more about the Santa Teresa Oval Project or to make a donation, click here.