Football and rugby icons, John Collins and Gregor Townsend returned to their roots in the Scottish Borders today (Monday 18 January) to show their support for the development of a new all-weather third generation (3G) pitch at Netherdale in Galashiels.
Townsend and Collins - two of the most inspirational sporting icons ever to come out of the Scottish Borders are supporting a local partnership group in their bid to bring what will be an ideal surface for both competitive football and rugby to the central Borders.
John Collins explained why he thinks a 3G facility would benefit the Borders: “I’ve been discussing the development of a 3G pitch with Dougie Anderson [SFA] for many years and there are two fundamental elements of this project – need and benefit. There is a definite need for this type of facility in the Borders and it will benefit the development of both sports. We all know the weather is only great for sport in this country for about three months of the year and trying to play football and rugby up to your ankles in mud is not ideal.
“We are so far behind Europe when it comes to sports facilities so a 3G facility would give everyone the opportunity to play morning till night and will give coaches the chance to develop kid’s technical ability which just isn’t possible on muddy pitches. I am delighted to be here to support what will be a brilliant facility for the town. Here’s hoping we can continue to work together to bring this facility to the Borders this year.”
Gregor Townsend added: “I used to think the only way to keep up with the skill levels of other countries is to switch to summer rugby but then I had experience of playing and coaching rugby on 3G and realised that it would be the answer locally. We should have one here in Galashiels and I am really happy to be involved and support this. I think we can definitely get this done for this summer.”
The partnership is made up of representatives from local football and rugby clubs as well as the Scottish Football Association (SFA), Scottish Rugby Union (SRU), Scottish Borders Council (SBC), Borders College, SportScotland, Border Sport and Leisure Trust (BSLT).
All the partners have invested in a feasibility study by PMR Leisure which has suggested a site at Netherdale is an ideal location for a 3G pitch to be constructed.
Penny Lochhead from PMR Leisure explained: “This all started when we decided to get everyone in a room together to see if we can get something here at Netherdale. Everyone wants this to happen so our job is to get this working. We are looking at how we can deliver this facility so it can benefit youngsters right through to senior players and we believe we can do this. Bringing football and rugby together will be a first in Scotland and to have two ‘greats’ like Gregor and John here saying they also want this - is a really exciting and symbolic development for sport in the Borders - and in Scotland.”
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