Three years ago Ballymacash Rangers Football Club established the Ballymacash Sports Academy to progress the redevelopment at the Intermediate club’s Bluebell Stadium.
In 2018 a share scheme was launched raising £112,540 thanks to 300 investors from across the world, including supporters from as far as Australia.
Having raised such a significant investment from the community, Directors were able to approach funders to assist with the project.
Work began on the first full size, floodlit 3G pitch in Lisburn last November.
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Eight months later Ballymacash opened the state of the art complex, which they are rightly proud of.
Ballymacash Rangers manager Michael Gault said the pitch was among the best he had ever played on.
“It is great to play on and looks fantastic,” the former Linfield captain said.
“It is up there with the best surfaces I’ve played on if not the best. I am looking forward to the new season ahead.”
Ballymacash Sports Academy Directors Philip Trimble and Neil Woolsey said: “We are delighted with the finished product and there are a lot of excited footballers in the area, young and old, who cannot wait to get playing on it.
“We would like to thank not only the funders and our community who invested financially to this unique project, but also Tiziana O’Hara (Co-Operative Alternatives), Philip Melville (IFA Regional Grassroots Development Officer), Rick Forsythe (Forsythe Consulting), Stephen McGarry (Work West) , Alderman Amanda Grehan, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP, Paul Givan MLA, LCCC Officers and Keith Bingham all of whom provided invaluable support and guidance along our journey.”
Communities Minister, Carál Ni Chuilin added: “The Department for Communities recognised that a new 3G facility at Ballymacash Rangers FC had the potential to make a significant contribution to the health and well-being of local communities.
“I am delighted to see the project completed and available for use, especially at this time, when local communities have faced so many challenges as a result of the Covid-19 restrictions. I wish the club well as they grow their club.”
Paul Givan, Lagan Valley MLA, said: “This project has been the culmination of hard work, commitment and dedication by the local community in driving forward the development which will have a transformative impact in Ballymacash and the wider Lisburn area.”
Alderman Amanda Grehan, LCCC, added: “It has been a pleasure to work on a number of initiatives with Ballymacash RFC in recent months for the benefit of the community. The Academy will give young people the opportunity to excel in sport and so encourage others to take part. It is a fantastic project and I offer the best of luck to all involved.”