HAKOAH has now raised $60 million of its $65 million target for its new club at White City following the announcement of a $7.5 million state government grant.
The commitment, which will go towards the construction of new sports facilities, matches a $7.5 million federal grant announced earlier this year.
NSW sports minister Natalie Ward said, “The redevelopment of White City will provide modern, accessible sports facilities for everyone in the community, allowing more people to enjoy the benefits of sport and active recreation.”
Vaucluse MP Gabrielle Upton lauded Hakoah’s “proud and strong history” of community leadership in sport and recreation and said the funding “will support the club in that important role”.
Hakoah president Steven Lowy thanked the state government “for sharing our bold vision for the revitalisation of White City and its immense positive impact on the local community”.
“At the beginning when we were dreaming of this project, to think we’re now at $60 million, we’re very close to completing fundraising, it just feels wonderful to get such broad support,” he told The AJN.
“It’s given us now the opportunity to go out to the broader community to finalise our fundraising and to sign up the key memberships.”
He said the early response to the club’s membership drive, launched along with a new website, Facebook page and Instagram page just prior to Rosh Hashanah, has seen take-up of foundation and life memberships “beyond our expectations”.
“We’re now starting to focus on the broader community. There’s a whole generation out there that doesn’t really know what Hakoah was, they didn’t have the benefit of using it,” he said.
“We need to explain it to them, motivate them and get them excited, and we just kicked that off last week.
He added, “Achieving our membership target is necessary to demonstrate wide communal support, and fulfils an important condition needed to unlock the funds to commence construction.”
With a builder chosen and Hakoah on track for a late 2023 opening, Lowy said there is “a lot of heavy lifting” still to do.
“Every time we have a major achievement … we just focus on the next issue to deal with,” he said.
Meanwhile, a memorandum of understanding recently signed with Maccabi NSW and Maccabi Sports Centre Ltd (MSC) will make Hakoah White City the home of Maccabi and the hub for Maccabi Life Programs.
It follows an agreement signed last month that will see Shalom run cultural programs at the site.
“It’s great that Jewish sport will have a home. Sport is a key pillar of Hakoah, it always was going back to 1938,” Lowy said.
“Weekly competitive sport, training, Maccabi Life programs as well as special events such as interstate carnivals will ensure that Hakoah at White City becomes a hive of activity bringing our community together on a regular basis.”
Maccabi president Lauren Ehrlich said, “We are thrilled that as Maccabi NSW approaches its centennial, Maccabi’s home in NSW has been secured and we will be an intrinsic part of the fabric at Hakoah at White City. Our 2500 members in 18 different sports, together with our Maccabi Life members, will significantly contribute to the creation of a Jewish atmosphere at Hakoah at White City.”
Both Lowy and Ehrlich thanked the MSC board for its substantial financial support that will enable Hakoah to accommodate some of Maccabi’s specific requirements.
MSC chairman Max Futeran said the board was “delighted to have contributed in a meaningful way”.
It was also announced at a Hakoah general meeting earlier this week that David Gonski will chair a new registered charitable entity that will manage ownership of the White City site.
For membership information, visit hakoah.com.au.