Community is a word that resonated with abundant purpose recently within the small coastal village of Suffolk Park, when the singular open green space was under threat of being sold off for commercial use.
The land, currently owned by the NSW State Government and used by Suffolk Park FC as their home ground and adjoining area incorporating other recreational space, had been identified for development. Within this small and tranquil community close to its better known big brother Byron Bay, news of the proposed sale stirred the eclectic local residents into action to save their open space. The football community rallied in support of the fledgling club that was formed in 2012, with State Federations Northern NSW Football and Football NSW initiating broad communication to key Government departments and decision makers. The professionalism, resources and collaborative efforts of the Football Facilities Unit, demonstrated another component of its purpose, by endorsing the efforts being made at Suffolk Park and highlighting the football participation perspective.
Suffolk Park FC secretary Paul Sharka, who has been a resident of the village for about 16 years, contacted Football Far North Coast several weeks ago prompting an immediate trail of correspondence to several NSW State Government Ministers and Byron Bay Shire Council to highlight the significance of football participation in this issue. “Football represents the diversity of our community and even in our short history, Suffolk Park FC has become a great focal point for kids, adults and within the village generally.” Mr Sharka said.
A recent rally at the grounds attracted close to 1000 people and in the presence of most of the councillors from Byron Bay Shire Council, Mayor Simon Richardson pledged to “fight” for this community cause until a favourable outcome was achieved. True to his word and with the commitment and tenacity of Byron Shire staff and councillors, a palatable purchase price of less than 1 million dollars was negotiated after the State Government seemingly wanted close to 4 million dollars?
The purchase of the land will enable the land to stay in perpetuity for the community and we understand that Byron Shire Council is enthusiastic about soon building facilities to enhance the participation experience for football players and of course Suffolk Park FC.
So we have land for the community, within the community and now to soon be owned by the community.
BRAVO to everyone involved in stepping up with such vigour to help achieve this outcome at Suffolk Park, whether at the Football Club, Progress Association, Byron Shire Council or as a member of the community. Thanks also to the FOOTBALL family, who rallied for a cause that confirms yet again that Football is truly The World Game!!.