One of the oldest junior football clubs in Scotland has unveiled a new state-of-the-art artificial pitch as part of a £50,000 upgrade.
Newtongrange Star opened the new 3G rubber pitch, which replaced old sand-based turf, yesterday with a match between boys and girls from Newtongrange Primary and St Andrews Primary.
The new surface was created thanks to funding from third sector lender Social Investment Scotland to pay for the upgrade of the seven-a-side pitch and changing rooms.
And the club, which was established in 1890, is hoping to make further improvements, with an extensive refurbishment of the clubhouse also in the pipeline.
The upgrade means other clubs and community groups who currently have to travel further afield can use the new facilities.
President Stan Davis said it would help tackle issues such as social inclusion and health in the area. He said: “The facility that was there was built 20 years ago and there’s not been anything done to it since then.
“Sport is a great force for tackling social exclusion and improving health.
“The club is proud of its long history at the heart of the community and the impact it has made on people’s lives throughout the past century.
“This funding will enable us to do more to build on that legacy and to work with a greater number of young people in the community.”
The new facilities will also be used by Newtongrange Star CYP [Club for Young People] with the potential to become a training base for 140 youngsters playing for 15 seven-a-side and 11-a-side teams from the local community.
Primary schools will also benefit as they can use the club free during the day.
The opening match was attended by a number of supporters, including Jason Holt and Jamie Walker from Hearts, who play their home under-20 matches at the club.
The two teams provided an entertaining spectacle for the crowd, with the game ending in a 3-3 draw.
Mr Davis said the loan would be paid back over ten years using revenue from hiring out the floodlit pitch and other facilities.
Social Investment Scotland chief executive Alastair Davis said Newtongrange Star was one of a growing number of sports clubs working towards developing closer links to the community.
He said: “This trend makes sense not only because sporting facilities are good sources of revenue generation, but also because sport has, for generations, been a community activity with the potential to have a lasting social impact.”