About Santa Teresa Oval
FOUR years since Melbourne’s project began, the ‘MCG of the Desert’ has officially been launched.
What was once a fantasy for the locals of Ltyentye Apurte (Santa Teresa) and Atyenhenge Atherre Aboriginal Corporation (AAAC), a newly grassed oval was opened to the community on Thursday, spreading joy far and wide.
The dream of a lush, green oval was first shared with the Melbourne Football Club in 2017, with Santa Teresa’s red dirt ground an obstacle for sport participation.
But the hard and unstable surface is no longer, instead replaced with a spectacle in the middle of town.
While the oval was originally set to be launched in 2020, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic saw delays with the sowing of the grass and subsequently, the opening pushed back until 2021
The complete oval features goalposts delivered from the hallowed turf of the Melbourne Cricket Ground and brand new lights, funded by the Central Land Council.
The long-term sustainability of the project is also taken care of, with future grants already secured and necessary maintenance equipment donated to the community to ensure it can maintain the oval’s upkeep on an ongoing basis.
Melbourne’s connection with the Santa Teresa community runs far beyond the oval project, with local Arrernte artist Amunda Gorey designing the club’s 2021 Indigenous guernsey.
The club also undertakes its Cultural Immersion Program within the community and works closely with local Santa Teresa enterprises to provide in-kind support to extend their reach and become more sustainable, through activities such as creating an eCommerce website for the communities Traditional Craft Centre.