Stars align for pre-season match


MAKING THINGS HAPPEN: Sanjeev Gupta (right) with Port Adelaide President David Koch at the Gupta family Port Adelaide sponsorship announcement at Alberton Oval.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Whyalla Mayor Clare McLaughlin has paid tribute to the team effort that has resulted in the Port Adelaide Football Club coming to Whyalla to play a Marsh Community Series AFL match next year.

This week the AFL announced the POWER would be playing the Western Bulldogs in a pre-season match at Whyalla’s Bennett Oval on Saturday, March 7, 2020.

Mayor McLaughlin said it was the culmination of nine months of hard work and an exciting process kicked off by Sanjeev Gupta.

In February this year, the Gupta family signed a private sponsorship deal with the Port Adelaide Football Club. A key consideration of this sponsorship was that a 2020 pre-season match be played in Whyalla.


TEAM EFFORT: Whyalla Mayor Clare McLaughlin with Port Adelaide President David Koch at the Gupta family sponsorship announcement.

That sponsorship announcement triggered a flurry of activity as the City of Whyalla came together with a range of stakeholders to help make the game happen and pave the way for an exciting sporting future in Whyalla.

 “The first thing we, as a Council, needed to do was update Bennett Oval and bring it up to scratch for an AFL match,” Mayor McLaughlin said.

“I have to pay tribute here to the elected members, Council staff, the State Government, the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) and the South Australian Cricket Association (SACA) here.

“Armed with all the prudential details from our Council officers, the elected members carefully considered the plan for the $2.8m Stage One of the Bennett Oval development.

“Once approved by the elected members, Council officers swung into action to put this plan together which included community consultation and a funding arrangement that wouldn’t impact on our ratepayers.

“This is also where the State Government, SANFL and SACA came on board to assist the project financially and with their support.

“The end result from this team effort is that we are now going to have an AFL match in Whyalla on magnificent resurfaced and redeveloped Bennett Oval.


CONNECTING WITH THE POWER: Sanjeev Gupta speaks to Port Adelaide players with president David Koch during the Gupta family sponsorship announcement at Alberton Oval.

Mayor McLaughlin said it was, however, more than just a football match. It was the Gupta family showing its commitment to Whyalla and the community, something Mr Gupta confirmed when signing the sponsorship deal at Alberton Oval early this year.

“Whyalla was the key motivation in my family accepting to do this sponsorship,” Mr Gupta said.

“Sport is a key to social and community development and a key part of human spirit.

“This is equally as important as our GFG Foundation program, which is about taking students to industrial plants, showing them the processes and inspiring them to pursue careers in industry. This sponsorship is another factor in inspiring local youth to be active in their community, with sport a vital ingredient in the health and wellbeing of our future generations.

“Sport can get them in that aspirational mindset where they want to grow, want to do more and want to make Whyalla great because that’s what I want to do … make Whyalla great.”

Mayor McLaughlin said the Marsh Cup match will not only draw a big crowd to Whyalla and put the city on the national map, it was the catalyst for a redevelopment of Bennett Oval that which is going to benefit our community and many sporting endeavours into the future.


KEY SUPPORT: Minister for Sport, Recreation and Racing Corey Wingard presents the $890,850 cheque to the Whyalla community at Bennett Oval.

Stage One of the project was assisted by a $890,850 State Government grant from the Grassroots Football, Cricket and Netball Facility Program (The Grassroots Program), administered through the Office of Recreation, Sport and Racing. Contributing to this grant was the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) and the South Australia Cricket Association (SACA). This money will be split between the Bennett and Memorial oval redevelopments.

“Every hotel and accommodation provider is going to be booked on the March 7 weekend for this match as people flock to Whyalla from all over the State,” Mayor McLaughlin said.

“The immediate economic benefit will be obvious but this match has also provided the momentum for Whyalla to achieve a quality sporting precinct that not only benefits football and cricket but will also provide facilities for many other sports and community groups.

“This is just Stage One of the Bennett Oval redevelopment.

“After this stage is finished, we will be going back to the community to see what Stage Two could look like, what sports we can next accommodate and what this sporting precinct will eventually provide for the city.”


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