AFL Redbacks football operations manager Colin Pope (right) with volunteer groundsman and remedial therapist Phil Strang at the new Redbacks oval.
AFL Redbacks football operations manager Colin Pope (right) with volunteer groundsman and remedial therapist Phil Strang at the new Redbacks oval. Emma Channon

Paddock to pitch in one year

TWELVE months ago the patch of land north of the touch football ovals on Jackie Howe Dr was just a paddock.

Today, thanks to the careful ground work of a handful of volunteers - as well as a trusty mower - the length of grass has nearly finished its transformation into an AFL pitch.

This playing oval on Jackie Howe Dr will be the new home for the Warwick Redbacks, which previously shared Slade Park with the cricket club.

The club is also awaiting council approval before it can build a clubhouse, including change room facilities and toilets.

The volunteers, namely Phil Strang and Jason Wright, have harrowed the land, flattened it and turfed it ahead of the AFL season, which begins in March.

"They have been working their butts off and they've done a fantastic job," football operations manager Colin Pope said.

"(President) Keith Clark is really driving the club in the right direction."

The new oval measures 130m in width and 160m in length, whereas the former oval on Slade was 135m long.

Pope said while their former home wasn't too small, their new one would offer more space for spectators and players.

"It just makes for a better display of football - this will be for a large number of people," he said.

"Another one of the problems (with being based at Slade Oval) was sharing it with the cricket club. It was always football or cricket being played there and the ground didn't get a chance to breathe.

"Certainly the cricket pitch itself will probably benefit with us not playing there - when it got wet in winter, it became really churned up."

While the oval continues to transform into the perfect pitch - self-confessed perfectionist Strang said he would focus on sanding in the dints to make the playing field level - plans have been in motion to appoint 2012 team coaches.

A number of Redbacks senior players have jumped at the chance to pass on their skills, with player Jason Hoole set to coach the Under 16s and Mark Mills to coach the Under 14s next year.

Fellow Redbacks player Kurt 'Hollywood' Heier, who was awarded the most consistent player this year, will take on the important role of skills co-ordinator coach for the junior players.

They will be joined by returning coach Andrew Fidge with the Under 12s and former 15-year-old players Cassie Cullen and Gabi Richmond-Clay, who will coach Under 10s.

The announcement for senior coach will be announced mid to late January, after nominations close on Thursday.

The first game on their new soil will be March 31, at an opening game against Highfields.

Pope said the club was in talks with Black Toyota about sponsorship and there would be a jumping castle and activities to celebrate the new home for the Warwick AFL.


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