Momentum gathers to save Liverpool Academy
UPDATE 2.00pm: PARENTS, players and politicians are joining forces to do what they can to save the beleaguered Liverpool Academy, saying its sudden closure means too much to the local sporting community to see it disappear.
After the news last week Southern Cross University would be closing the popular soccer centre, Catherine Rixon, whose sons Oliver and Jacob have been pat of the program for some time, said it's a tragedy it has closed.
"If the only issue is dollars I ask can we find other ways to cover the costs?," she said.
"Parents would be more than willing to pay higher fees for the academy programs."
She said the fees per athletes participating in the elite programs, which includes uniforms and training three times a week, is around $1000 a year.
"Can the government, community and or local businesses provide funding and sponsorship?" she asked.
State member Janelle Saffin said she is concerned about the news.
She said she has contacted SCU regarding any assistance she can offer.
"I was involved in securing the $2.5 million of federal government funding of the centre's establishment after Craig Foster wrote to me in 2008 asking me for support for the project," she said.
"Then the university embraced the idea and eventually it became the academy we have here."
Ms Saffin said she has asked the SCU vice chancellor Adam Shoemaker to keep her in the loop regarding future decisions on the sporting centre.
Page MP Kevin Hogan said he has had preliminary discussions with the SCU and with Football Far North Coast general manager Steve Mackney.
"The football field is not going anywhere," he said.
"The optimal solution would be to get another entity to take over the running of it, including the academy - the preliminary discussions have been about this."
Mr Mackney said "we need to put this into perspective".
"We need to get the relevant parties to the table to consider what options may exist," he said.
"I hope SCU is open to an option which helps sustain and retrieve the fantastic facility and programs that have existed over the last four years."
Original story: A DETERMINED young soccer player is so devastated by the sudden closure of the Liverpool Academy by Southern Cross University that he started an online petition opposing the move, which has already gained more than 1600 signatures.
And his supporters include Socceroo great, Lismore's own Craig Foster.
Oliver Hoath-Bastion, 11, has been part of the Liverpool Academy for three years and played for Lismore Thistles Soccer Club for five years.
Last week, the local soccer community was stunned when news of the centre's sudden closure due to lack of funding from SCU, which recently announced a $54 million funding chasm.
So the courageous midfielder sprang into action.
"Everyone is really disappointed," Oliver said.
"The Liverpool Academy is really important. I'm more confident thanks to the coaches who are really nice, skilful and encouraging and I want to have a career as a Socceroo."
Foster said he was impressed with Oliver's determination.
"Oliver's passion is what sporting dreams are all about," he said.
"I had the same wish: to excel in football.
"This football centre is a really important commitment to the sport and the community, especially for a region that considers itself a sports hub."
He said while he'd not been privy to the commercial model of the academy or involved in its acquisition, "they've certainly done an exceptional job of providing a professional development environment for young 'Olivers'.
"Lismore council cannot let the public investment nor the community facility go to waste.
"It should become the home of Football Far North Coast as a regional centre of excellence."
But a council spokesman confirmed it is not in a financial position to take on the Liverpool Academy at this time, but would support any group who wants to take it on.
FFNC general manager Steve Mackney said he'd been inspired by the outstanding football talent and delivery of wonderful technical direction of the centre's staff.
"I pledge to use whatever influence that I may have to help leverage a way forward that provides reasonable opportunities to support a Spirit of Progress for football within the community," he said.
You can visit the petition at https://www.change.org/p/local-representatives-save-lismore-s-liverpool-academy