Sports people urged to join strategy conference

GREGOR Townsend and John Collins will attend a special conference in Galashiels on Sunday aimed at creating a “bright new era” for the region’s sports and leisure facilities.

Scottish Borders Council (SBC), the Borders Sport and Leisure Trust (BSLT) and Jedburgh Leisure Facilities Trust (JLFT) have organised a special facilities conference to be staged at the Borders College campus at Netherdale from 9am to 3.30pm.

Organisers claim the meeting will allow those involved in sports and leisure in the Borders to play a central role in creating a new strategy up to 2020 and beyond.

Sportscotland chief executive Stewart Harris will join former Gala and Scotland rugby star Townsend and Collins, member of the Scottish Football Association’s Hall of Fame, and more than 100 delegates from around the region.

It is hoped the conference can become an annual event to inform and monitor sports facility development across the region.

Townsend said: “I have been fortunate to experience some terrific sports facilities in England, France, South Africa and elsewhere, and I have no doubt about the impact the right facilities have on increasing the numbers of people involved in sport and healthy living, and also the quality of the people looking to develop into elite sportsmen and women.

“This conference is huge for the Borders and I hope that we will see it provide a launchpad for a new sports facilities strategy that people across the Borders will buy into and help to take forward over the next 10 years.”

Graham Garvie, SBC’s executive member for sport, culture and community learning, added: “This conference is important to the development of a facilities strategy that can take sport and leisure in the Borders forward despite the difficult financial climate we are operating in.

“We have already started the process and sought an independent view of the region through Kit Campbell Associates and that has stimulated a lot of debate and provided us with ideas.

“What we need now is the central involvement of Borders people, those involved in sports and leisure, whether administrators, participants, users or fundraisers, who can help us to drive the strategy over the next 10 to 20 years.”

The conference will take the form of workshops aimed at debating the priorities for sports facilities, the ability of sports to work together in shared facilities, the balance between rural and centrally-located facilities, and funding and management proposals.

In the morning, workshops will be grouped into sports with similar interests with the afternoon workshops split geographically for representatives to analyse the future shape of their district sports council area.

Tony Taylor, the BSLT chairman, said: “This conference has the potential to create a new, vibrant future for facilities across the Borders.

“It is crucial that the people involved with sport and leisure in the Borders, and who are working hard to develop and drive it, take a central role in creating this new strategy and driving it.”