SBC pitches in to get Netherdale project off the ground

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SPORT in the Borders has taken a giant leap into the 21st century – thanks to funding for the much-anticipated Netherdale third generation (3G) pitch being approved by Scottish Borders Council (SBC) yesterday, writes Fiona Scott.

Construction of a full-size 3G pitch and a smaller synthetic training pitch will now begin, with both scheduled to be up and running by the end of this year.

SBC approved capital funding of £500,000 to contribute to the development of the project. This follows the announcement in March from the Scottish Government that the venture would receive £350,000 from the CashBack for Communities Programme after being identified by the Scottish Football Association (SFA) and sportscotland as being of strategic importance to the game.

In June 2009, football clubs in the Galashiels area, alongside the SFA south-east region, got together to investigate ways to externally fundraise for the creating of a 3G training facility at Netherdale. A formal group called ‘Netherdale – the Next Generation’ (NTNG) was created in January last year which included representation from the football clubs in the town, the SFA south-east region, local rugby clubs, the Scottish Rugby Union, Borders College and SBC.

Gala Fairydean chairman Jos Ritchie commented: “We are delighted with the announcement that the capital submission has been approved by Scottish Borders Council.

“This, in line with the recent announcement of funding from the SFA CashBack for Communities scheme, is a tremendous boost – not only for Gala Fairydean, but also for all the original partners within NTNG. I would like to thank both SBC and the SFA for their commitment and support towards this fantastic project.”

Speaking on behalf of the partnership, local businessman Mike Gray added: “NTNG is delighted that the funding, both for the initial capital costs and also a provision for future refurbishment, has been identified. This is a great project for sport in our community.

“We would also like to note the generous contribution from the Hayward Trust, of support worth £100,000 over a five-year period.”

SBC’s executive member for sport, culture and community learning, Councillor Graham Garvie, said: “I am delighted we have now reached the final stages of securing the funding for this project which has been ongoing since the community group was formed in 2009. It is widely known that the Borders is severely disadvantaged by not having a 3G facility and this has been recognised by the SFA who have continued to be great supporters of this project. Credit must also go to the rest of the partners of the NTNG and the project officers who have driven this project forward to reach this stage.

“It’s the perfect example of how communities and organisations can come together for the greater good of the Borders.”