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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

UK Gov invests £600K in grassroots sports through IFA across Northern Ireland

Wellington Rec football club in larne

More people in Northern Ireland will have the opportunity to get involved in sport with the UK Government investment of £600,000 in multisport grassroots facilities administered through the Irish Football Association (IFA).

As part of the Government’s 2022/23 commitment, 28 facilities in Northern Ireland are benefitting from new pitches, goalposts, floodlights and changing rooms increasing the availability and access to high quality facilities for football, hockey and other grassroots sports.

In Mid and East Antrim, Wellington Recreation Sports and Social Club was awarded £30,000 to improve disabled access at Brookvale Park in Larne, home to Wellington Recreation Football Club (Wellington Rec).

The local club used the money to upgrade their car parking facilities at the ground which before works was a rough stoned surface.

Tarmac car park
Disabled parking space in tarmac car park

Commenting last month after works were completed at the Larne community facility, a spokesperson for Wellington Rec said:

"Work on our new car park has now been completed how well does it look? We would like to thank the following for there involvement on helping us complete this project:

• Struell contracts who completed the work to a very high standard

• Mid and East Antrim council for there assistance in helping fund the project

• Cllr Gregg McKeen who continues to work hard with the club and council and also got the roads service out promptly to repair some drainage issues

• Irish football association for there funding which enabled this project to be complete

"Our project team continue to work hard to improve the facilities at the club and are awaiting word on a few other funding opportunities to enable us to continue with these works."

The Government outlined the latest investment as part of a "key priority" to level up access to community sports facilities in all parts of the UK, to help as many people as possible to get involved in sport and to deliver all of the mental and physical health benefits associated with active and healthy lifestyles.

The Government has committed £300 million in ongoing multi-year investment into grassroots multi-sport pitches across the UK by 2025 - more than £7 million of this will be invested in Northern Ireland.

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said:

“We are committed to levelling up access to sport which is so important for the nation’s physical and mental health.

“Today we are delivering 28 new and improved grassroots sports facilities across Northern Ireland to continue to support, sustain and grow community and grassroots sport - so that physical activity is accessible to all, no matter a person’s background or location.

“We will continue to work with the Irish Football Association to nurture the talent of the future whilst making sure local communities have the sporting facilities that they need.”

A central aim of the programme is to level up access to community sports facilities and invest in some of the most deprived areas in the UK, to give as many people as possible the opportunity to take part in sport. In order to achieve this, and to deliver access that every community needs, at least 50% of investment will be spent in underprivileged areas.

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Chris Heaton-Harris said:

“As a referee, I’ve witnessed first hand the benefits of grassroots sport, and this significant funding announcement will provide an amazing boost to communities across Northern Ireland, allowing more people to enjoy access to these great facilities.

“During my recent visit to Crewe United, I heard what this support means to local people, and I’m delighted that the UK Government and Irish Football Association are working together to widen participation in sport.”

Some of the facilities to benefit from the 2022/23 round of investment in Northern Ireland include:

  • Enniskillen Rangers FC in Fermanagh has received more than £19,000 for a new changing pavilion;

  • Magherafelt Sky Blues FC in Magherafelt has received more than £15,000 to improve access, lighting and install new goalposts;

  • Newbuidings United FC in Newbuildings has received £30,000 to upgrade the changing facilities for females and enhance accessibility for individuals with disabilities;

  • Springfield Star FC in Belfast has received more than £24,000 to upgrade their 3G pitch;

  • Crewe United in South Antrim has received £24,000 to improve disabled access, build a new dugout and install fencing;

  • Coagh Sports Centre in Ulster has received more than £27,000 for grass pitch maintenance & storage;

A full list of the facilities to benefit from 2022/23 investment in Northern Ireland can be found here.

40% per cent of the funding will be used to support multi-sport facilities, ensuring a wide range of sports are supported and helping to deliver benefits beyond football. The programme has a particular focus on increasing participation among underrepresented groups such as women and girls, and those with a disability.

Patrick Nelson, Chief Executive Officer, Irish Football Association said:

“This funding demonstrates an important investment in grassroots football across Northern Ireland. The role of the Irish FA is to promote, foster and develop football for all and we are delighted to work with the UK Government to help local clubs provide the facilities needed to increase access to the wide-ranging benefits of grassroots football participation for previously underrepresented groups and everyone in our community.”

The UK Government, in partnership with the Irish Football Association, has now invested £1.3 million in facilities in Northern Ireland since 2021, with over 50 sites having benefitted to date.

Throughout the lifecycle of the grassroots multi-sport facilities investment programme which will run to 2025, Northern Ireland will receive more than £7 million to help nurture the talent of the future.


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