Pictured above: Pirates juniors make a grand pre-game entry. In the backdrop, a white demountable building – the club’s only dressing room space servicing the entire club.
The Park Ridge Pirates AFL club are in discussions with council in their bid for a new home, which club officials say is vital to future proofing their club and to prevent losing more players.
After progress halted in their push to become a tenant of the proposed Rosia Park sports complex, the club is now eyeing Everleigh, Greenbank, as a potential destination.
Pirates President Andy Colenso hopes a clear outcome will come from the talks.
“I am optimistic but we need to [be] because we’ve been dealt some pretty hard cards,” he says. “We need to get kids playing sport.”
“I don’t think the council have been proactive enough in that area, supporting us in the Western corridor,” Mr Colenso says.
In 2016, Rosia Park was a strong possibility for becoming the club’s new home, thanks to support from then-Division Seven Cr. Laurie Smith.
However, Mr Colenso says progress has since stagnated and no official approvals are in sight.
The Pirates have been based at the oval of Park Ridge State High School since launching in 2008, and lack basic infrastructure, such as a proper clubhouse, dressing rooms, and public toilets.
Mr Colenso says this has affected how the club is viewed by parents.
“People were coming in, looking at the facilities, and thinking ‘for my kid to prosper, I couldn’t see this, with the facilities, being a long term pathway’ for my child,” he says.
“The Pirates have gone from four years ago, when they were sitting at 280 kids, to now, when they’d be lucky to have 100 kids this year.”
Senior players are also struggling to attract prospects, which is impacting the club’s ability to perform at the higher divisions against ‘destination clubs’, such as Sherwood, Maroochydore, and Springwood.
“Trying to recruit players to a club that doesn’t have the facilities is hard,” says Park Ridge Pirates ruck Christopher Kassulke, who has played more than 100 games for the club.
The senior squad went from having 44 senior players at training – pre-2019 – to having between 10 and 12 in 2019.
It is only now they have been able to get enough numbers for two full senior teams.
“We’re trying to recruit players, but we can’t even meet them at our own club house, so we either go to the pub or cafe because there’s nowhere to really sit,” Mr Kassulke.
Since taking the Division Eleven office in 2020, Cr Natalie Willcocks has been vocal in her support for the Pirates.
“Ultimately, I would love to have an existing club come in and be able to activate the fields from the moment they are built, and to bring a different sporting code to the area,” says Ms Willcocks.
“I will continue to work with the developer, EDQ, and the Pirates to see what is possible around the alternate use of fields for a best possible outcome.”
According to Logan City Council, the council and its stakeholders can suggest what sporting code would be best at the location, but the final decision rests with the developer, Mirvac, and Economic Development Queensland.
On January 25, council’s City Lifestyle Committee passed an amendment allowing council to continue advocating for the Everleigh sports oval to be used for “multiple sports including but not limited to Australian Rules Football and Athletics.”
Logan Labor MP Linus Power says State Government support is available, however, council must cement plans for a move before he can act on his pre-election commitment of $200,000 to the club.
“We just need the council to approve this and move ahead,” says Mr Power.
“For ten years, the Pirates have done a great job providing community sport, but they’ve had to do it on a borrowed field from the school, so the club and its team, led by Andy, have done a great job doing that.
“But it’s only limited space on a single field, so it’s really important that this active club get a decent place to be as a base.”