There were plenty of community members keen to get a first glimpse of the new Albany Indoors Sports Centre at its official opening on Thursday. Cricketers were quick to pad up to test out the facility’s new bowling machines and soccer players were holding nothing back during the first run on the two street soccer pitches. The centre has transformed the Albany Agriculture Society’s 1800sqm exhibition pavilion into a facility that is set to be used year-round by sporting teams and the wider public. Indoor cricket and futsal competitions are being set up as a way to grow the respective sports by playing all-year round. Great Southern Soccer Association president Jamie Steele said “we’ve been batting people off with a broom” because of the high level of anticipation for competitions to start in the centre. He said seeing people using the facilities at the opening made him realise the quality of the centre had exceeded his expectations. “The whole process of our association working together with the Great Southern Regional Cricket Board and the Ag Society has been next level,” he said. “It’s really good to see those associations working together towards a common goal which has been getting this done for the community.” A number of teams from the Albany and Districts Cricket Association are excited by the opportunity to carry out pre-season training without being impacted by the threat of wet weather. The project has been driven by the GSRCB, which successfully secured the final funding required for the centre to come to fruition from the State Government late last year. Funding commitments were also made by the City of Albany, the GSRCB, the Albany and Districts Cricket Association, the GSSA, Cricket Australia and the AAS. GSRCB chair Greg Stocks said the idea for the centre came about following a discussion about what should be done with the money the board had in the bank because it “belongs to our junior cricketers”. “It was October and nobody had been training ahead of cricket season because it had been raining for eight weeks and the same thing happened last year too,” he said. “What we decided to do was come up with a vision, we’ve worked on that and as it’s come along we’ve been amazed just as everyone has been walking in here tonight.” Final work on the online booking system that will be managed by the AAS is expected to be completed in the coming weeks to allow the centre to be fully operational by mid-August. AAS president Rob Wright said there had been “a lot of help from a lot of people” to realise the vision of creating “this most magnificent facility”. “There is going to be an awful lot of not only young people but also older community members that are going to use this space,” he said. “We’ve been so fortunate to be able to put this together.” Albany Mayor Dennis Wellington congratulated everyone that had been involved in the process he described as a “wonderful exercise” of being able to work together. Albany MLA Rebecca Stephens said it was a positive example of “having an idea and following through on vision”. O’Connor MP Rick Wilson said the transformation of the pavilion further added to its capabilities of being a real community asset “over and above what it had already been for the AAS”.