No more ball games as pupils plant next stage of Olympiad project

Forest pitch, Selkirk tree planting by local primary school pupils. Pupils from Kirkhope Primary School.
Forest pitch, Selkirk tree planting by local primary school pupils. Pupils from Kirkhope Primary School.
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SELKIRKSHIRE’S much maligned Forest Pitch has seen its last football game.

Wednesday saw around 100 primary school pupils from Selkirkshire joined up with Borders Forest Trust volunteers and amateur footballers to plant 800 trees, which organisers say will create a giant living sculpture by marking the shape of the pitch.

Forest pitch, Selkirk tree planting by local primary school pupils.  Artist Craig Coulthard  helps with the tree planting.

Forest pitch, Selkirk tree planting by local primary school pupils. Artist Craig Coulthard helps with the tree planting.

The £460,000 arts project, Scotland’s contribution to the Cultural Olympiad which ran alongside this summer’s London Olympics, has been dogged by controversy.

The cost of the arts experience was heavily criticised, and then the proposed July date for the only two matches to be played on it was postponed due to bad weather, until finally going ahead at the end of August.

Then last month, there were reports that youngsters were using the pitch’s wooden pavilion as a drinking den.

But artist Craig Coulthard this week was positive about the latest stage of his arts piece.

He told us: “The trees will have a long lifespan, so I hope that the schoolchildren, and all those who came to the matches, will come back over the years to show their parents, friends and eventually their own children, the sculpture they played a part in creating.

“Forest Pitch is somewhere the public can enjoy for decades to come. The trees have been chosen because they will have different colours and textures all year round. I hope it will encourage people to remember the games played here and remember the Olympics and the values of amateur sport.”

Jane Rosegrant, director of the Borders Forest Trust, added: “It’s a really unusual project and it’s great to be getting the community involved in this way.”

The primary schools involved in planting the trees were Lilliesleaf, Kirkhope and Knowepark.