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Redfern complex to help Aborigines shoot for the stars

A SPORTS facility costing $24 million is being built in Redfern to help develop and foster the next generation of Aboriginal stars Reports Daniel Lane in the Sun Herald of December 14, 2008.

The aim of the National Indigenous Development Centre is to fine tune the next Cathy Freeman, Evonne Cawley, Anthony Mundine, Kurtley Beale or Greg Inglis.

Site manager James Ellender said the state-of-the-art facility was "mind boggling" and one of the most exciting initiatives undertaken for Aboriginal athletes.

"The Indigenous Land Corporation is driving this," he said. "The YMCA [Ellender's employer] is in partnership with them."

The academy is being built on the site of the former Redfern Public School in George Street after the Federal Government bought the property through the Indigenous Land Corporation.

The three-level complex being built on the 1.63-hectare site will include a 25-metre heated pool, basketball court, state-of-the-art gymnasium, a training field, boxing gym, lecture halls, a dining room, child-care facilities, a computer room and accommodation for 100 people.

The centre will also become the headquarters for a number of Aboriginal programs, including the Lloyd McDermott Rugby Development Team and the National Aboriginal Sporting Chance Association.

Ellender, who also manages the YMCA site at the Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre at Pyrmont, was quick to dismiss any notion it was a pseudo Institute of Sport exclusive to Aborigines.

"No, it is open to all, though there is a key focus for Aborigines from around Australia to use the centre," he said. "It will cater for a number of sports and allow everyone an opportunity."

The YMCA website says the centre is expected to also offer employment and training opportunities.