Melbourne Victory Football Club has made an eleventh-hour bid to gain support for its proposal soccer academy by stitching up a formal partnership with the all-female Maribyrnong Swifts Football Club.
Maribyrnong councilors will vote on Tuesday night whether to approve the Footscray Park academy, reject it outright, or follow the advice of an internal report recommending the decision be deferred until it has been assessed by a new community advisory panel.
Victory announced on Saturday that if the project is given the green light, the partnership with the Swifts would open training and playing opportunities at the new Melbourne Victory Academy and Community Facility.
Closer professional coaching and mentoring ties would also be forged to improve pathways for female players and coaches, according to the club.
The proposal has split the Maribyrnong community, with 54 per cent of more than 1500 submission supporting the plan and 45 per cent opposing.
A Survey of 516 residents living in the vicinity of Footscray Park found 31 per cent in support, 36 per cent opposed and 33 per cent undecided.
Maribyrnong Swifts Football Club, established in 2010, is the sole female-only football club in Melbourne’s west, with 130 registered players.
Swifts vice president Diana Drury said access to training and playing at the facility would be a “game changer” for her club.
“The Maribyrnong Swifts Football Club is thrilled to partner with Melbourne Victory,” she said.
“This is an exciting opportunity for girls to rub shoulders with inspiring female role models, all in our own backyard.”
Ms Drury said the club currently struggles to help players develop with inadequate facilities to play and train.
“The facilities we gain access to through this partnership with Victory are a game changer.”
Melbourne Victory chief executive Trent said the partnership is an integral part of the club’s commitment to the development of football in Melbourne’s west.
“We look forward to extending our relationship with the Swifts and helping develop the current and future generations of female footballers.”