Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has promised to pump $10 million into the Central Coast Mariners' new state-of-the-art training compound if her Labor party is re-elected later this month.
The news is a massive boost for the A-League club, which has ambitious plans to create one of Australia's best sporting facilities, the Mariners Centre of Excellence, with a view to attracting and developing the top football talent in the nation.
When completed, the Centre of Excellence will feature training pitches exclusively for the Mariners as well as all-weather sports courts, a heated indoor pool and hydrotherapy centre, a gym and fitness centre, a sports medicine centre and other community-focused facilities. Ms Gillard sees a partnership with the Mariners on this project as the ideal way to provide a valuable resource for the Central Coast community.
She said: "The Central Coast Mariners are an important part of this community. It's always great to see on field success, but the Mariners are also part of this community, engage with the local schools, engage with young people in this community to get a life, to work hard, to do the right thing.
"The Central Coast Mariners have sought assistance to develop a new facility to call home. But importantly a facility too, where the community will be able to come along and benefit from having the ability to watch their Central Coast Mariners in new and better circumstance, benefit themselves by having better access to the sporting facility for other community sports and benefit because the vision includes making available medical services and other community services that people locally would look for. I know with this additional resource they will be able to bring this vision into reality. It will be great for the team and great for the local community."
The Mariners have only just created an exclusive training pitch for themselves at the Tuggerah site ahead of this season after previously training at public parks around the Central Coast. With the Centre of Excellence now set to be complete in early 2013 should Labor stay in power, the club hope to host top international clubs and national teams when they visit Australia, including for the 2015 Asian Cup and 2022 World Cup if Australia's bid is successful.
The $10 million would be used to guarantee the future of the Centre of Excellence and bring many aspect of the project ahead of schedule, Mariners deputy chairman Peter Turnbull said.
"It's amazing. It's a great day for the Central Coast as well as the club," Turnbull said. "The $10 million grant from the federal government will enable us to build a world class standard facility. Dare I say it, the Central Coast has been waiting for a facility such as this for a long time, so now we will be able to do the five-a-side courts immediately, the two football fields immediately, the sports science centre immediately, and the aquatic centre.
"It guarantees the project's success, and it means we can bring things forward. Instead of waiting for funding to be put in place and for the banking sector to recover and start lending more money to business, we can actually start moving ahead right now, and put our plans in place.
"We will have facilities that no other football club in Australia has. We will have our own home, our own base, we will have a centre which will be comparable to some of the biggest overseas clubs, and we will be able to attract therefore the best talent. Not only we will be able to encourage and foster Central Coast talent, but we will have the best kids in Australia wanting to come here and play for the Central Coast."
The Australian federal election takes place on August 21.