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For their eyes only: Hawks eye alternative training base

Luke Hodge of the Hawks (left) in action as Hawks Coach Alastair Clarkson looks on during a Hawthorn Hawks training session at the Ricoh Centre, Melbourne on September 26, 2013. (Photo: Michael Willson/AFL Media)
Waverley Park is a fine venue for open sessions but the Hawks have found it hard to hold closed training sessions there
We have been working in partnership with the Eastern Football League on a feasibility study of a site that is one of several options the club is looking at
Hawthorn CEO Stuart Fox
HAWTHORN is eyeing Wantirna Reserve in Melbourne's east as a possible site for its new alternative training venue.

Believing that Waverley Park does not provide enough privacy, the Hawks have been searching for a second ground on which to conduct closed training sessions away from the eyes of opposition scouts.

Although still in its early stages, initial plans for the Wantirna location – near the intersection of Burwood Highway, Mountain Highway and Eastlink – would see the development of an elite-standard facility in partnership with the Eastern Football League and AFL Victoria.

It would be used by Hawthorn for selected sessions only, while also serving TAC Cup club the Eastern Ranges and the EFL's grassroots development and umpires.

The Hawks would retain Waverley as their base, with plans for an upgrade of the club's existing facilities.

Both projects are stated aims within Hawthorn's five-year strategic plan, 'All For One', released in 2013.

In a statement provided to AFL.com.au, Hawthorn CEO Stuart Fox stressed the club was yet to come to a decision on its preferred alternative venue, but confirmed Wantirna Reserve as a possibility.

"As outlined in the club's business plan 'All For One', we have been exploring a number of options for an alternate on-field training venue," Fox said.

"We have been working in partnership with the Eastern Football League on a feasibility study of a site that is one of several options the club is looking at."

EFL CEO Phil Murton said part of the feasibility study would examine how the venue could be closed off to ensure Hawks training sessions could not be spied on by rival clubs.

"Obviously that's one of Hawthorn's major concerns – that it can be closed, or not visible from too many direct areas," Murton said.

"So the designers are working through that at the moment to see if it can happen."

One advantage of Wantirna Reserve is that it is partly surrounded by parklands.

Any development would also need to consider community tenants Wantirna South Junior Football Club, Wantirna Cricket Club and Wantirna Tennis Club.

"All of the relevant authorities have been briefed on the project, and I think everyone is pretty excited about the potential," Murton said.

"Part of the feasibility study is looking at how the existing tenants can be accommodated and taken into consideration."

Murton said if the development received the go-ahead, it would help to create a more cohesive pathway from grassroots football to the elite level in the eastern region of Melbourne, with players of all levels using the same facility.

"We think it's a really exciting project," he said.

Wantirna Reserve is about 10 minutes' drive from Waverley Park.


Wantirna Reserve, near the intersection of Burwood Hwy and Mountain Hwy, Wantirna. Picture: Google Maps

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