Currie sports clubs hail synthetic pitch boost

Scottish Rugby's director of rugby operations Colin Thomson, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill and SFA director of football development Jim Fleeting were on hand to break the good news

Scottish Rugby's director of rugby operations Colin Thomson, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill and SFA director of football development Jim Fleeting were on hand to break the good news

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A JOINT application between Currie Star FC and Currie Rugby Club for a state-of-the-art synthetic pitch facility in Balerno has been given the go-ahead after a six-figure funding boost from the Scottish Government.

The CashBack for Communities scheme has matched £300,000 from the City of Edinburgh Council and will enable work to start on a full-sized 3G pitch at Malleny Park, home of Currie RFC, by April next year.

The application, which was submitted just six weeks ago, is one of many to be rolled out across Scotland, with the aim that football and rugby clubs can work together more cohesively to increase opportunities for youngsters in sport.

Under the proposed plans, which are earmarked for an August 2014 completion, Balerno High School will have access to the facility throughout school hours, while both clubs will each be allocated two nights a week. The local community will be given Friday nights, while weekend access will be split between the two teams.

Currie Star chairman John Brock hailed the announcement and pointed to the growth of fellow youth club Spartans FC since the opening of their synthetic pitch in 2008.

He said: “It is a massive boost to the club. I look at Spartans and where they were ten years ago before they had the facility at Ainslie Park and where they are now.

“There is no doubt that having such a quality facility will enhance our reputation and will enable us to attract new players to Currie Star.”

The announcement that the bid was successful couldn’t have come at a better time for Star, with the club having struggled to gain funding to improve their much-maligned home park at Kingsknowe 
playing fields.

“Kingsknowe must be one of the worst football parks in Edinburgh, without a doubt,” said Brock. “We’ve been looking at ways to rectify that, but we have had problems with funding. We are currently looking at raising £20,000 to get the pitch to a decent level and hope to get that in place by the end of the season.”

Due to their being no floodlit facilities at Kingsknowe, the pitch is out of action for training purposes from September until April and that has seen the club’s youth teams training over seven different locations across Edinburgh.

Brock, who coaches Star’s under-13s, hopes that by having one base for training – in the centre of the club’s heartland – that the club will thrive and be able attract more players from the local area

“We are hoping that, by having access to the new facility at Malleny Park, we’ll be able to get more of our teams training there and that will hopefully develop a better spirit among the players and the coaches.

“By having the one venue, we can pull the players together and establish that as a base in addition to Kingsknowe for the future of Currie Star. We are hoping that, with the facility 
being right in the heart of Balerno and Currie, we’ll attract more players from those particular areas.”

Under the proposals, a link will be established between the two clubs, enabling kids to sample the two sports, while Currie Star are aiming to increase the number of girls in the sport after linking up with Boroughmuir Thistle.

“We will be working closely with Currie Rugby Club to increase youth participation in sport. We may have players within the football club who have never sampled rugby before and vice-versa. The hope is that we can integrate more and give the kids tasters of the two different sports. It could be the case that there are kids out there who have a natural ability for one or both.”

Currie Rugby Club president John Muir also revealed his delight at the news. He said: “Everybody at Currie Rugby Club are delighted that such a facility will be based here at Malleny Park. We are looking forward to working with Currie Star to develop a strong relationship. The facility will be crucial for increasing youth participation in sport.”