It’s the $38.5m investment designed to produce a stream of future football stars – with a 200-year link to the A-League’s newest club.
Macarthur FC have secured a 42-acre site near the village of Cawdor, next to Camden and 65km south west of Sydney, to build a football precinct housing the club’s new W-League team, its NPL sides and its community arm, the Macarthur FC Foundation, with the aim of having the senior women’s team training there in little more than 18 months.
The purchase comes amid the club’s first season in the A-League, with Ante Milicic’s side sitting fifth and aiming for a home final in their debut campaign, and ahead of the expected entry of a Westfield W-League team next season.
The $3.5m site at Cawdor was bought by the club’s owners from the Boardman family of Camden, who in turn were gifted it in the early 1800s by John Macarthur– the eponymous prominent landowner after whom Macarthur FC is named.
Club chairman Gino Marra revealed plans to build a $35m complex in two stages, with the aim of housing every team associated with the club bar the A-League squad. The first team will be based at the Centre of Excellence currently underway at Macarthur Heights in conjunction with Campbelltown Council.
The first stage of the Cawdor project, compromising five pitches, administration buildings and a sports science unit, is scheduled to commence construction in November and will take 12 months to complete. The second stage will add another six pitches, allowing the club’s academy sides to be based there in total.
Eventually, Marra said, the medical and sports science facilities would become a community asset, while long-term plans include a licensed club to act as a base for supporters.
“At the core of this is the fact we want to develop our own players, for both the A-League and W-League teams, and create a flow of talent,” he said. “We’d been looking for the last eight or nine months for suitable land, and about three months ago we learned this plot might be available.
“The Boardman family are really pleased that the link to John Macarthur is there in the club name, and it’s nice to have that sense of history when we are such a new club. Importantly, too, the facility will draw participants from Goulburn to Bankstown and in particular will aim to give young female participants in football a pathway to achieve their performance and participation goals.
“The most significant international sporting event in the 2023 Women’s Football World Cup, which Australia will co-host, will give a significant impetus for participation in our game and we will need to be prepared for that.”
The development will continue the trend of Australian club sides investing heavily in infrastructure, with Melbourne City moving to Casey Fields south-east of Melbourne to create another of its City Football Academies for close to $20m, Sydney FC hoping to move into their own, purpose-built complex in little more than a year, and the Wanderers having completed the $20m Wanderers Football Park precinct that houses the entire club near Rooty Hill.
Macarthur FC continue their current campaign at home to Melbourne Victory on Friday night at Campbelltown Stadium, with the possibility of being second on the leaderboard if they defeat the struggling Victorian side.
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