Community Sports Complex up and running

A new £475,000 Community Sports Complex at Blackwatertown has officially opened. The facility which has been created by O’Neill’s GFC An Port Mor has already played host to a coffee morning and family fun day with a major road race set to follow.

The project received £350,000 in National Lottery funding from the Big Lottery Fund’s Space & Place programme which is managed by a consortium headed up by the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland. 

The Space & Place programme is a £15 million, five-year capital grants project which seeks to provide an opportunity for local communities to come together to identify a shared vision for their area and work to deliver it. The project was also funded by Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council.

O’Neill’s GFC have redeveloped facilities which were first opened in 1982, with the intention of bringing the building right up to date to meet the growing needs of all in the local community. 

This will allow for better access to sporting and community activity for everyone living in the area and it is intended that the new facility will be used by all local sports clubs as well as a variety of community organisations. 

Tony Donnelly speaking on behalf of O’Neill’s GFC said: “Already, we can see how this complex is becoming a focal point for community activity; a huge number of people attended the opening on Friday night and the complex hosted a coffee morning and a family fun day over the weekend.  

“Next weekend, the complex will play host to a major road race with more events to come over the course of the summer. On top of our coaching and training, we have ambitious plans and are really looking forward to developing a programme of events and activities in conjunction with the other sports and cultural groups throughout the community.”  

Martin Quinn, Treasurer of O’Neill’s GFC said: “In the last few weeks, every household in the area received an invitation to the opening of the complex and we were blown away by the attendance.  The large turnout was a really strong community endorsement of this development and we are looking forward to working with all of those people to make the most of the facility.  

“We asked everyone for feedback on the types of events that we can run in the complex and there has been genuine enthusiasm and some fantastic ideas.  It is a very exciting time and we are most grateful to the Space and Place Programme and to ABC Council, because this simply wouldn't have been possible without their support.”

Michael Hughes Space & Place Co-Ordinator, said: “The project and its opening night have been a great success and the Space & place consortium is delighted not only for those who worked so hard to make it happen, but for the whole community who now have a fantastic facility on their doorstep. 

The group behind this project are to be commended for how well they worked in partnership with funding agencies, councils and their local community to create a space which we hope will be of massive benefit to local people. 

Michael continued: “The new facility fits perfectly with the ethos of the Space & Place programme which is using National Lottery funding to help communities transform underused or neglected spaces in turn helping to tackle issues such as social isolation and lack of facilities and we wish the community every success with their new complex.”