The NRLW and AFLW may not rake in the same dollars as their male counterparts, but they are continuing to inspire a new legion of female fans and players that are looking to make their own individual mark on the game. When the AFLW was introduced in 2017, female participation has grown exponentially across the country, with a massive 31% increase in participation in 2019.
For this reason, sporting teams need to be more thoughtful towards their thinking towards female facilities. Uniforms are easily altered and coaching systems put in place to tailor for the women’s game, but the same can’t be said for change rooms and facilities. If you head to a training ground, chances are you’ll see a stack of female players getting changed on the inside of their cars due to a lack of showers. It's for this reason that Hames Sharley was engaged by Port Adelaide Football Club in a bid to modernise their Alberton Oval change rooms in order to properly welcome their future female outfit, before making their way into the AFLW in the coming years.
Inclusivity, safety and privacy are the pillars of design in the Alberton dressing sheds. Hames Sharley have opted for private toilets and showers with lockable doors in their design as opposed to the open plan, club room showers that occupy the sheds in all codes, at all sporting grounds. Players can also get changed within cubices if they desire, with lines of sight factored into the design plans. Sanitary disposal units are also installed throughout.
Leon Gouws, Hames Sharley’s Project Lead says the design was centred around the interaction of opposite sexes in change rooms at the same time, and ensuring all parties remain safe and comfortable within the rooms.
“We’ve also designed an area for the opposite sex to shower or use the toilet within that locker room vicinity. The future ALFW team may have coaches or team staff of the opposite sex, so the inclusion of an accessible toilet, shower and change space which is unisex, further supports the privacy and safety of the team. As will the additional car park lighting which will be added as part of the overall upgrade,” he says.
“It’s important to note that while we designed the locker rooms in a way that will meet the needs of Port Adelaide’s female team, the locker rooms aren’t exclusively designed for women. The concept of private showers is increasingly becoming more commonplace in men’s change rooms too, and all the other features, such as mirrors, shelving, hanging space, etc. are all built in a way that will accommodate any teams using the space, male or female.”
Alberton Oval’s previous facilities were a result of second-generation gender bias, in which men have unintentionally designed spaces that do not fully account for female counterparts. In this instance though, Hames Sharley have shown awareness and care in all facets of the design process that accounts for both genders.
Both Port Adelaide and the AFL have continued to evolve as businesses that look to accommodate women on and off the field, and the new training facilities at Alberton Oval will reflect this evolution. The facility will prove a flagship design for unisex elite sporting facilities, that will only continue to become societal norm with the rapid progression of female sport.
Port Adelaide Football Club have recently unveiled the full plans for the overhaul of Alberton Oval. The plans are now within the development approval process. To read more, click here.