SCOTLAND International Claire Emslie has joined the fight to have the football pitch where she used to play given a £255,000 makeover.
Penicuik Athletic Youth Club (PAYFC) are petitioning Midlothian Council to resurface their pitch amid claims players have been hurt on the poor surface.
Footballer Claire, from Penicuik, grew up playing on the astro pitch across from Penicuik High School and has been urging supporters to add their names to an online petition calling for action.
The Manchester City winger, 23, also contacted the local authority directly to make a personal plea. On her Twitter account Claire shared a link to the online petition urging “please sign”.
The petition on Change.org now has over 530 signatures.
At a meeting of Midlothian Council’s Petitions committee next week the case for the re-carpeting of the pitch will be put before elected members.
A paper petition lodged with the local authority on behalf of the club has an additional 88 signatures.
Louise Shepherd who is the petitioner on behalf of the club said they had also received letters of support from MSP Danielle Rowley, local police and Penicuik High School.
She said: “We aim not just to make better football players, but to improve health and fitness and keep kids off the streets and out of trouble. We have such a high level of support in the community. I can only hope that the council see sense and replaces the astro.”
The petition states: “We have real concerns for all the players. Players have been injured playing football.
“On Thursday, January 17, 2019, a boy fell during training and badly injured his elbow.
“We want Midlothian Council to fund recarpeting and maintenance and to increase the security at this site to help prevent any damage or vandalism.”
Local MSP Christine Grahame and Penicuik councillor Debbi McCall have thrown their weight behind PAYFC’s petition to Midlothian Council to have their astro turf re-carpeted.
The Penicuik Astro Pitch is used by school pupils across Penicuik and Midlothian for inter-school football festivals and is hired every evening by both youth and adult local football teams. PAYFC alone has over 60 coaches and volunteers running 14 football teams for 350 youths, offering each player two to three hours of training during the week and a match at the weekend.
Ms Grahame said: “The fact that Midlothian Council have increased the costs of hiring the astro-pitch despite its deteriorating condition beggars belief and puts the club’s good work at risk. Indeed, I was deeply concerned to hear PAYFC have already reported injuries to children they believe have been caused by the poor pitch conditions.”
A report from council officers has revealed that the pitch, which is used every evening for club training, as well as by other teams and for games at the weekend, was identified as needing resurfacing nearly two years ago.
However, a request for funding to be set aside in the Capital budget has not been given the go ahead.