A local football club says Nelson City Council has “let them down” by providing unsafe playing and training fields.
Tahuna FC’s undersized training pitch on the Tahunanui fields is riddled with valves and man-hole covers while their playing field floods like a bowl. The club says it has been in an ongoing battle with council to bring its fields up to standard.
Club administrator and premier player Beige Matuszewski says the biggest problem has always been drainage.
“All it takes is half a day of rain and there’s surface flooding for a good 2-3 days, so when we get that late in the week there’s almost no chance of us playing on the Saturday.”
Beige says player safety is a major issue as a storm water drain is also in the middle of the training pitch.
“We have these valves all over the ground, so whenever we train we have to take cones out and cover them, so it can look like a bit of a driver’s ed course.”
He says two days before the season started, they were told there were no fields available. The team were then moved to Neale Park for its opening encounter.
Player and committee member Hayden Nunn says football in Nelson is being neglected.
Beige says it is impossible trying to squeeze three teams on their small space which has been further shortened more by lighting.
“We have an obligation to provide a safe playing environment for our players and when a game is moved there is a lot of scrambling, plus we let our sponsors down by not being here.”
Hayden says players are so keen to just play during a rainy period they will become groundsmen before game time.
“There were about four or five games last year where it rained midweek. Because we just want to play footy, two hours before warm up we would bring brooms from home and sweep all the water off the surface just so we would be allowed to play.”
Hayden says the club wants a “seat at the table” where its voice is given equal measure.
“Our club is growing, football in Nelson is growing and we want to see that supported.”
Nelson City Council acting group manager for community services Roger Ball says council tries to meet the needs of all sporting codes, making the best use of the available resources.
He says Tahuna Football Club has access to one full size playing field that doesn’t include manhole covers.
“There is also a smaller (but still compliant with code regulations) field closer to the BMX track. Tahuna Football Club and Marist Rugby Club have space for training that is to be shared evenly.”
Nelson city councillor and chair of the sport and recreation committee, Tim Skinner says he is well aware of the issues at Tahunanui and will be sitting down with staff to address the issues today.
“Those fields are there for all recreational users, so no one code has priority.”
FC Nelson are also working with council to resolve issues at Neale Park. A trench was dug through the Nelson field last week to lay a power cable which lead to football games being moved and cancelled.
“FC Nelson is working with the local council and Nelson Bays football about our football fields,” the club said in a statement.