The introduction of artificial pitches in the Scottish Borders has given the region’s youngsters a better sporting chance, a new report reveals.
Live Borders now operates six 3G and 2G pitches in Galashiels, Tweedbank, Peebles, Selkirk and a further two in Hawick.
Such pitches have many benefits, specifically enabling sporting participation all year long under spotlights and providing consistent quality playing surfaces.
They also bring the added benefit of relieving pressure on existing grass pitches, in turn helping to improve their quality and reduce maintenance costs for the local authority.
Today members of the council’s audit and scrutiny committee were to be informed that usage of such facilities is continuing to rise, with 101,422 participants in 2015/16 compared to 103,751 in the last financial year.
The most notable rise in usage is the ten per cent increase of the 3G pitch at Galashiels, from 43,799 to 48,538.
The number of reported accidents at the 3G Arena in Galashiels also remains extremely low with less than one reported incident per 10,000 visits for 2016/17.
In the report, Sara Robson, Hawick Youth coach, outlined the benefits of the town’s 3G pitch, saying: “It’s great for the kids as they can experience playing on a high quality surface which has beneficial effects on their skills and development.
“When you are on a 3G you know that it is 100 per cent safe and you don’t have to worry about there being dog dirt or sticks lying around.”
It is a view shared by Gerry McGuiness, Hawick Youth rugby coach, who added: “The Volunteer Park 3G has helped Hawick Youth Rugby Club by providing a safe surface to play on and first class lighting for games and training.
“Our players, and the teams we play against, are very complimentary about the surface being consistent, no slopes, no divets, no muddy bits, just the same surface which ever part of the pitch you are on.”