Kids launch campaign for £150,000 sports pitch

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Budding athletes of the ­future have starred in their own campaign video to raise cash for a £150,000 replacement sports pitch.

Balerno High’s pitch is so bad pupils are forced to use other schools’ sports grounds.

The pupils are hoping to raise money for a new 2G pitch at Balerno High. Picture: contributed

The pupils are hoping to raise money for a new 2G pitch at Balerno High. Picture: contributed

In summer it becomes a dust bowl, in winter a mud pit, as youngsters graze their knees or get gravel in their shoes.

But support group Neighbourly was so impressed with the groundswell of support for a replacement 2G pitch that it sent out a film crew to help the children realise their dream of a floodlit sports ground.

Parents, teachers and pupils from several local schools have now joined forces to turn its ­fortunes around.

But they have until February 2 to raise £35,000 in cash or pledges or the community may miss out on a Legacy Grant of £75,000 that would cover half its costs.

Dean Park Primary headteacher ­Rehana Shanks, who is organising the online fundraising campaign 
#pitchfever, said the response so far had been excellent but urged more supporters to come forward.

She said: “We only have a few weeks left. This is really important to us because our children are really keen to do sports but don’t have the best facilities. Because of that, most of our children who have been keen or have shown potential in sport tend to fall off as they get older.”

The community has already raised £30,000 towards the project on its own through various fundraising activities, which includes £5000 from an anonymous donor.

The project has also received £10,000 thanks to a successful lottery funding application submitted by the Balerno Village Trust, while the high school has found £15,500 in its own coffers.

Simon May, principal teacher of health and wellbeing at Balerno High, said the pitch had been there since the school opened 33 years ago and had not been improved since then.

“When it’s winter it turns muddy, when it’s summer it turns into a dust bowl and if someone falls it results in a nasty cut full of gravel,” he added.

Hockey player Jessica Church, 12, of Balerno, said the pitch was so bad that she had to play at Currie Community High School and at Forrester High School.

She said: “It would mean a lot to get our new pitch. We have to go to Forrester to play our home games and we are not Forrester, we are Balerno. When we play at Balerno our shoes get wrecked.”

Keen footballer Magnus Middleton, nine, of feeder primary Dean Park, said: “If we had a 2G pitch younger people can play on it because they won’t get hurt and there will not be as many injuries. More people will play because the pitch won’t be muddy.”

The campaign has the backing of Celtic goalkeeper Craig Gordon and Hearts goalkeeper Neil Alexander, who played on the pitch as boys.

Scottish hockey player Iain Moody and running legend Steve Cram have also given their backing to the project.