Scottish Borders Council (SBC) has approved capital funding of up to £450,000 to help a local partnership group take a step closer to developing a new third generation (3G) synthetic pitch at Netherdale in Galashiels.
The funding will help the group continue with their efforts to bring what will be an ideal surface for both competitive football and rugby to the central Borders – a facility which does not currently exist in the region.
The group leading the project called ‘Netherdale - the Next Generation’ is made up of representatives from local football and rugby clubs, the Scottish Football Association (SFA), Scottish Rugby Union (SRU), SBC, Borders College and SportScotland.
The project also has the support of two of the highest profile local sportsmen in the Borders – football star, John Collins and rugby legend, Gregor Townsend OBE, who are both passionate about the opportunities and benefits the project will bring to the region.
SBC’s Executive Member for Sport, Culture and Community Learning Councillor Graham Garvie is supporting the project and explained: “This is an inspirational project and I am delighted the Council has agreed to give it considerable financial support in order to bring it another step closer to becoming a reality. It is widely accepted that the Borders is severely disadvantaged by not having a 3G pitch. The provision of such a facility at Netherdale would allow a huge number of rugby and football teams to play recreationally and competitively. In addition, the pitch would provide a base for the development of holiday programmes, festivals, coaching courses, school use, active schools and also an opportunity to increase the number of girls and women taking part in sport.”
Speaking on behalf of the partnership, Mark Munro, Scottish FA Regional Manager said: "This is a unique partnership in Scotland and we are delighted that Scottish Borders Council have committed to support the project. In June 2009, the football clubs in the Galashiels area alongside the Scottish FA South East Region got together to investigate ways to externally fundraise to create a 3G training facility at Netherdale. Following some very positive discussions, a formal group was created to conduct the feasibility work which included representation from the football clubs in the town, the Scottish FA South East Region, the Gala rugby clubs, the Scottish Rugby Union, the Borders College and Scottish Borders Council.
“The project is leading the way nationally and the passion and enthusiasm for the project has been fantastic. The fact that the Partnership has now been formed and the fundraising commenced is amazing within such a short period of time. We now hope that similar partnerships of good practice will be established across the Borders following a positive outcome from this project".
The funding from SBC now enables the group to submit a stage one application to sportscotland to cover the rest of the cost of the project. The total cost of the project is approximately £750,000.
If the project is successful, it will see the first shared club 3G pitch created in Scotland by gaining the support of the local authority, the Governing Bodies and sportscotland.
All the partners invested in a feasibility study to be carried out by PMR Leisure who investigated the possibility of the partners coming together to develop and deliver the 3G pitch at Netherdale. The investigation suggested Netherdale is the ideal location for the facility and that the project is a unique opportunity to bring together partners in football and rugby for the development of sport in the area.