THE SANTA Teresa Oval Project is a step closer to fruition, with two thirds of the oval full of green grass.
The progress comes just 12 months on from the project’s announcement, which set out to re-grass the ground and bring to life the ‘MCG of the Desert’.
While the original plan had the oval opening to the community last weekend, the current climate forced a slight change to the schedule.
Instead of the grass being sowed all at once, this has instead been completed in three separate stages, with the third phase still to come.
“Unfortunately, because of the lack of water and the lack of us being able to get additional water during germination, we had to sow the grass in three separate patches,” CEO of Atyenhenge Atherre Aboriginal Corporation (AAAC), Susie Low told Melbourne Media.
“We did the centre, then we did one side and before we sowed the last bit, coronavirus came along, and it wasn’t considered an essential service.
“The rest of the oval is growing just beautifully, we’ve even had it weeded recently, but there’s still that third we have to sow.
“As soon as we can get that, we can get a countdown to when it would be ready.”
While the delay has meant locals will have to wait a little longer to have a kick on their ground, they aren’t complaining.
Full of pride and anticipation, Low said the excitement within the community is as high as ever.
“People are really very accepting – they’ll just be happy to have it ready when it’s ready,” she said.
“They’ve waited so long for this and they’ve watched it grow. They’re so excited and so proud.
“Even when we finally got the lights at the oval – we had a night where we just put them on. We had our nutrition program working out of the stadium and most of the community came down just to have a look.
“They were just so excited. They just wanted to sit there and look at it with the lights on – that was the evening’s entertainment.
“It means so much to people. It’s just really lovely.”
Located 80km out of Alice Springs, Santa Teresa had also planned to host communities across Central Australia for an extravagant sports weekend on the oval, upon its completion.
While that, too, will be at a later date, it’s certainly still on the cards.
“The locals know that because of COVID-19, the sowing hasn’t been completed, so they know that our sports weekend, when it’s going to be used by all of Central Australia, will have to be delayed,” Low said.
“But people are extremely patient, and they think it’s worth waiting for. They’re not getting upset or telling us to hurry up.
“They wander through throughout the day just to have a look – they’ve been great in that they will not go on the grass, even kids. They know that if they play on the oval now, they’re going to damage it.
“They just can’t believe it’s actually happening – a bit like me really.”
And for Low, who has led this project from the beginning, there’s no greater feeling.
“It’s just a dream come true – I look at it everyday and it’s just so green,” she said.
“It’s never been like that before, and it’s just so wonderful.”