Chris Latham: Why our kids need the new sports precinct
Sports star Chris Latham explains why he's in favour of the new sports precinct project:
OVER the past few months I have read with interest the varying views on the Fraser Coast Council's plan to invest in a multi-purpose sports precinct on the Fraser Coast.
I rarely make comment around politics, but as a Fraser Coast resident and business owner, I believe that this issue is too important for me to be silent.
I have had the great honour of being involved in rugby union from regional Australian grassroots rugby to the highest international level.
I have represented my country in three Rugby Union World Cups, the Queensland Reds and am still involved as a coach for a club in Japan.
If you are a parent of a child that plays sport on the Fraser Coast, particularly rugby union, rugby league or soccer; please consider this - your child has significantly less of a chance in progressing to the elite level of their sport than a player of the same skill level from a major city.
The different sporting codes will downplay this but it is the reality.
In fact the gap between the major cities and regional areas is only growing wider and is worse than when I came through the grassroots level.
The two main reasons for this are lack of facilities and lack of opportunity.
Both of these can be addressed in a large part through the development of a state of the art sporting complex.
It will provide an avenue for world class international and national teams to come to the Fraser Coast for training and games - and they will come.
It will also allow sporting codes to host elite level sporting competitions that require a standard of facility that the Fraser Coast is currently missing.
However, if our political leaders decide that it is not a worthy investment, the cost will be much more than a financial one.
In fact, such a complex is a decade overdue for this region.
With my involvement in Japanese Rugby I have had the opportunity to see the investment that Japan is placing into sport.
Quality multi-purpose sporting centres are considered a basic need of sports Japan.
Yet our local, state and federal politicians for too long have seen it as an unnecessary luxury for regional areas like the Fraser Coast.
I hope that our current politicians have the vision to see that a failure to progress a multi-sports complex now will have a crippling effect on regional sport for generations.
- CHRIS LATHAM, Hervey Bay