£1.5m sport facility plan revealed

A computer-generated image of the proposed Ballymacash Sports Academy.
A computer-generated image of the proposed Ballymacash Sports Academy.

Ambitious plans are being progressed for the development of a new £1.5 million community sports facility in Lisburn.

The exciting Ballymacash Sports Academy project is the brainchild of Ballymacash Rangers Football Club, which has been providing sporting opportunities for local young people for over 30 years.

A computer-generated image of the proposed Ballymacash Sports Academy development.

A computer-generated image of the proposed Ballymacash Sports Academy development.

A community benefit society - an organisation that re-invests all profits back into community projects - has been set up to progress the proposed development, which could see new state-of-the-art sports facilities created at the football club’s current home ground at Rushmore Drive.

After raising funds through a Community Share Issue, scheduled to be launched in June, Ballymacash Sports Academy Community Benefit Society intends to embark on a five-phase project that will include development of a community sports hub, 3G football pitch, community gym, changing rooms, parking facilities and opportunities for other sports-related projects.

Stressing that the new facilities will bring much-needed improvements to the local area, Ballymacash Sports Academy Director Phil Trimble commented: “We are already working with many schools, churches and community groups from our area and further afield, and hope that by having a collaborative approach the whole community can benefit from what we are doing and will be able to avail of these fantastic facilities.

“Ballymacash Sports Academy will be a place for the whole of our community to come together, and will be totally inclusive to all, just as Ballymacash Rangers FC has been for 30 years.

Ballymacash Sports Academy Directors Graham Morris, Clarke Thompson, Kenny McAleenon and Laura Turner present a sponsorship cheque to NI Commonwealth Games boxer Kurt Walker (centre).

Ballymacash Sports Academy Directors Graham Morris, Clarke Thompson, Kenny McAleenon and Laura Turner present a sponsorship cheque to NI Commonwealth Games boxer Kurt Walker (centre).

“Our ambition is to develop our community and develop new ideas and programmes to facilitate needs as they are identified. We hope to do this with the help of our existing partners, and with new relationships we hope to build in the future.”

Highlighting the many benefits of the project, Mr Trimble added: “As well as providing a safe and inclusive sports facility, the project will offer opportunities for employment, education, coach education, community building and promoting social enterprise. Another of our main aims is to provide financial support to young sporting talent from the area to allow them to represent their county, country and not least Ballymacash in their particular sports.”

This week the Academy provided sponsorship to Kurt Walker, who is heading to the Gold Coast in Australia to represent Northern Ireland at the Commonwealth Games in the Boxing 56kg class.

Kurt, a former Ballymacash Rangers player, boxes out of the Canal Boxing Club and has won three Senior Irish Championships.

Everyone at Ballymacash Rangers FC has wished Kurt well and can’t wait to watch his bouts on television as he battles to bring home a medal.

For more information about the new £1.5m sports facility development check out the Ballymacash Sports Academy Facebook and Twitter pages.