Going boldly ... the next generation

Kenny MacAskill MSP and David Parker at the site where a new 3G pitch will be laid at Gala Fairydean's ground in Galashiels.
Kenny MacAskill MSP and David Parker at the site where a new 3G pitch will be laid at Gala Fairydean's ground in Galashiels.

REPRESENTATIVES from the worlds of football and rugby came together on Monday to witness the beginning of a new era in both their sports in the Borders.

Work on the much-anticipated international-size 3G pitch at Gala Fairydean’s Netherdale ground has started in earnest and members of the group ‘Netherdale – The Next Generation’ (NTNG) were joined by Scottish Government minister Kenny MacAskill, and local council representatives dropped by to see their project get off the ground.

Mr MacAskill told TheSouthern: “I think this is a fantastic venture and is something that can be used by the whole community for the development of sport.

“I have to commend Gala football and rugby clubs as well as Scottish Borders Council (SBC) for coming together, particularly in these difficult economic times, and making sure this venture happened.”

SBC provided £500,000 funding and the Scottish Government and Sportscotland injected a further £350,000 from the new ‘Cashback for Communities’ funding, while the local Hayward Trust committed £100,000 over five years to help to maintain the new facility.

Work is now under way to provide only the third Fifa two-star and IRB-approved football/rugby pitch in Scotland, with an additional small-sized training pitch.

Gala Fairydean chairman Jos Ritchie stated: “This is a great day, 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.”

Weather permitting, the facility should be open for use in mid-November with Borders Sport and Leisure Trust managing the facility on behalf of the clubs associated with NTNG.

The Fairydean will primarily play competitive matches on the 3G and Gala RFC will continue to use their grass pitch predominantly for matches, but the new surface is passed for fully competitive games up to international standard in both sports.

Mr MacAskill added: “The 3G pitch being built in Galashiels is a fantastic example of the benefits our Cashback programme is bringing to communities in the Borders and elsewhere in Scotland. This state-of-the-art facility will allow local rugby and football players to train in all weathers.”