Forced to move for pit lanes

SOME of the Tweed's biggest sports clubs have been told to give up their home grounds to host World Rally Championship events in September - displacing hundreds of players, mostly youngsters, during their semi-finals and finals.

But some are making the best of the situation - putting pressure on rally organisers to cough up funds for much-needed facilities which will leave a long-lasting benefit to the area.

The disruption to the clubs has been outlined in a secret Tweed Shire Council report which councillors tried to keep under wraps by using a new media gag, until Greens councillor Katie Milne went public earlier this week.

The report criticises the possible ecological impacts of the rally plus measures to offset those before going on to warn of the imposition on displaced sports groups.

These clubs include those using the Walter Peate sports field at Kingscliff, which is to be turned into a rally car pit-lane service centre and the Jim Devine and Queens Park sports grounds in Murwillumbah where rally cars and participants in the Speed on Tweed historic car displays will be marshalled.

Some clubs are turning the disruption into an opportunity, or what could have been seen as a sow's ear into a fat silk purse, asking Rally Australia for a “show of goodwill” in the shape of funds.

Kingscliff Soccer Club president Alex Kamaoui said his club paid sports field lease fees of $4000 a year “and then another organisation is going to kick us out.”

He said it was only fair that Rally Australia paid “compensation” because the club would lose funds from its home-base canteen -“our biggest fundraiser for our club especially at the final when you get a lot of people come to watch the game”.

But Mr Kamaoui said he was frustrated Rally Australia was not getting back to the club with a definite response.

Club vice-president Peter Gladwin said the time Rally Australia wanted to use the field was “right in the middle of our finals for all ages from 11 to 13 and the women”.

“Initially our club said 'no' but after further negotiations we agreed to relocate our final games across to the Reg Dalton oval. “We have suggested as a show of goodwill the rally organisers match $14,000 grants from the state government for mobile grandstands.

“We left that with them about a fortnight ago. We are hoping they will come to the party for the Kingscliff community.”

Mr Gladwin said the soccer club had won the $14,000 grant from the government to buy six mobile grandstands costing $28,000 but the club still needed to raise the matching $14,000.

Although the secret council report claims alternative arrangements have also been made for users of the Murwillumbah fields, co-president of the Murwillumbah Soccer club Jason Dittmar said yesterday the club was unaware of those and a meeting was being held last night to discuss the issue. He liked the response of the Kingscliff club.

“By all means, we might send a letter off like that too,” he said.

A rally spokesperson was unavailable for comment.

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