Home of The Matildas seeks to set benchmark for Australian and Asian sport

Images: Populous

The Australian women’s national team’s new elite training facility has officially opened its doors, aiming to offer an experience unparalleled in domestic football with the aspiration of becoming the finest female-focused facility in Asia.

Located at La Trobe University Sports Park in Bundoora, Victoria, the A$57m (£29.9m/€34.9m/$38m) facility is one of the first and largest football-specific infrastructure projects in Australia’s history.

The project was funded as part of a A$101m investment by the Labor Government into La Trobe University Sports Park, with the A$42.29m for ‘The Home of The Matildas’ representing the biggest investment ever made by any level of government for a football-specific project in Australia.

The Federal Government contributed an additional A$15m, with the delivery of the facility coming shortly before Australia co-hosts the 2023 FIFA World Cup with New Zealand from July 20 to August 20.

The facility provides a world-class elite training environment that is for the Matildas’ exclusive use whenever they are in camp and is also the permanent home for Football Victoria’s administration and representative teams for women and men of all ages.

La Trobe University students will also benefit from the partnership with access to many of the facilities, as well as student placements and research studies providing real-life training and benefits to all athletes and officials around high-performance training and recovery, sports science education and research.

As the principal design consultant, Populous created a precinct which features two state-of-the-art hybrid turf pitches; two FIFA-grade synthetic pitches, with another to be constructed later this year; 12 change rooms, including the Matildas’ own, customised changing room; a fully-equipped gym; medical facilities; modern wet recovery areas; premium function rooms; coaching development spaces and a boutique, 800-seat grandstand with elevated sight lines.

Populous senior principal, Belinda Goh, said: “Working together with a range of stakeholders over the life of the project, we designed and delivered solutions for equitable access and universal spaces for a flexible age group from young children to elite.

“Populous brought our deep understanding of the current and future needs of an elite training facility to the project.

“The mixed-use, flexible design shows that women’s teams don’t necessarily need different, stand-alone facilities, rather a commitment to equitable access. It becomes more efficient and affordable in the long-term if a ‘designing for all’ approach is adopted.

“The Home of the Matildas offers an equal playing field for females in sport as officials, fans and players while fostering a deep sense of connection to our nation’s best women’s team.”

Additional design elements include gender neutral facilities, flexible spaces, increased privacy as well as collaboration spaces for various lifestyle phases of parenthood, education, to work and training.

Populous associate principal and project architect on the Matildas, Taryn McQueen, said: “Understanding the benefits of greater inclusion by the stakeholders supports greater sustainability for the code through wider participation from community to elite, as well as new opportunities for sponsors and fans of the game to engage, often providing additional revenue streams.

“This facility has been designed to flex up and down, from smaller community style events and programs, university activities, talented player programs right through to major match day events and tournaments.

“Ultimately, designing for everyone means greater opportunities for use more often, helping to future-proof the facility.”

Opened in time for the venue to be a team base camp during the Women’s World Cup, the facility will officially host Jamaica during the tournament. It will then be available for use by the Australian women’s team in the preparation for future tournaments, while also being capable of hosting training camps for elite women’s and men’s representative teams across all age groups.

The Matildas have become one of the first elite national women’s teams in Australia to have a dedicated homebase with locker room facilities and amenities designed for their exclusive use.