The South Sydney Rabbitohs and Souths Cares are set to go to new levels following the announcement of the NSW Government’s commitment of $8.696 million towards the Rabbitohs' Community and High Performance Centre to be built in South Sydney heartland at Heffron Park in Maroubra.
The NSW Government have announced the Rabbitohs would receive the funding towards the $25,696 million project at Heffron Park which will supplement previous funding or support from Randwick City Council ($3m), the Federal Government ($10m), the Rabbitohs themselves ($4m).
The Community and High Performance Centre at Heffron Park will be a game changer for the Rabbitohs, both on and off the field.
The facility will provide the Rabbitohs, Souths Cares and the local community with a state-of-the art facility. The 5,500 square metre project will house Souths Cares’ offices and facilities, the Rabbitohs football department and training facilities, administration offices, a merchandise outlet and a café.
This project will create over 90 full-time jobs and help the community and the Rabbitohs connect in the South Sydney district like never before.
The community support from the Rabbitohs and Souths Cares will have the opportunity to increase, with Souths Cares setting a target of 15,000 participants going through their programs from 2020.
The Rabbitohs’ operations will be consolidated to one site, improving operational efficiency and collaboration between the playing group, football department, administration and Souths Cares.
It will also help achieve long term stability for the Football Club by creating new and increased revenue streams while also reducing costs.
Rabbitohs CEO Blake Solly is delighted with today’s announcement.
“We’ve had our plans ready for this project for a long time now and the NSW Government funding was the last piece of the puzzle for us to get underway,” Mr Solly said.
“We’re very thankful for their support as well as the support of Randwick City Council, the Federal Government, Souths Juniors and the NRL.
“We’re keen to get started on the next phase of the project now and we’re aiming to have our Community and High Performance Centre in operation by 2020.
“This is an exciting day for our Club and Souths Cares and I’m sure our Members are as excited as us to see the Club take the next step in its progression.”
Mr Solly says this development will be fantastic for the community and Souths Cares’ operations and programs.
“The Rabbitohs and Souths Cares make a significant contribution to the local community and this NSW Government funding for the Community and High Performance Centre will allow us to do even more,” Mr Solly added.
“Our community programs through Souths Cares have already delivered over 300 Aboriginal employment placements.
“Participants in our School to Work program have achieved their HSC at a 93% success rate; substantially higher than the 65% rate for Aboriginal high school students in Australia.
“Over 80% of participants in the program have successfully transitioned into employment, training and/or tertiary education within six months after completing school.
“The Rabbitohs KARI Wellbeing Program has visited 45 disadvantaged schools in 2017, engaging over 7,500 students with health and wellbeing messages including anti-bullying, cyber safety, physical activity and nutrition.
“Since being established in 2012, our Colgate Oral Health Program has been delivered to over 12,000 primary school students; and in 2017 alone over 200 disadvantaged and/or seriously ill individuals were guests in a Souths Cares ‘Money Can’t Buy’ game day experience.
“The Community and High Performance Centre will allow us to double the size and reach of these community programs.”
Mr Solly also corrected media reports that the Community and High Performance Centre will lock out members of the community.
“Uninformed commentary that the Centre won’t be available for community usage is inaccurate, misleading and unfair,” Mr Solly said.
“As part of the partnership with Randwick City Council, local community access to the facility is secured.
“The facility is being designed to promote shared community use through the Souths Cares classroom, which will seat around 120 students, the lecture theatre, the board room and function rooms, meeting rooms, and the community will also have access to the playing field.
“The Community and High Performance Centre is also an important part of the Council’s wider investment and masterplan to improve Heffron Park’s position as the sporting hub of the community.
“It is already the largest sporting reserve in the area and a range of sports are played in the park through winter and summer including Rugby League, netball, soccer, touch football, oztag, cricket, cycling, tennis and gymnastics, in addition to housing the Des Renford Leisure Centre.
“The park is also very popular with local residents for walking, jogging and cycling, and our Community and High Performance Centre will supplement and support the Council’s previous, current and future investment into Heffron Park, ensuring there are over one million visitors to the park annually.
“The construction and operation of the Community and High Performance Centre will directly create over 90 FTE jobs which is hugely beneficial to the local community.”
Mr Solly says despite the operations centre being moved to Maroubra, this will not end the Club’s connection with its spiritual home of Redfern.
“By no means are we turning our back on Redfern. We are talking with Souths Juniors about running their representative teams out of Redfern Oval and Souths Cares will continue to run programs with organisations in the area,” Mr Solly said.
“Redfern has been the Club’s spiritual home for decades and it will always remain so.
“Maroubra is actually the location where the original Rabbitohs chased rabbits which were skinned and sold in the streets around the South Sydney district, which led to our Club being dubbed the Rabbitohs.
“The new development will tie in with our history as does our ties to Redfern and the inner city areas.”