WORK on a major new ground improvement scheme is under way at Templepatrick Cricket Club.
The club has secured 84,384 of grant funding from Sport Northern Ireland to improve its playing facilities at The Cloughan in Ballyclare.
The money will allow the club to lay eight new, high quality grass wickets, a new artificial wicket and improve drainage across the outfield.
The contractor, Clive Richardson Ltd, are specialists in sportsground construction and have laid numerous cricket squares across the country and are also the company responsible for relaying the pitch at Croke Park in Dublin and putting down the new playing surface at the Aviva Stadium, which will replace Landsdowne Road.
The work, which started last week, will take around two months to complete.
The club's Cricket Development Officer, Andy McCrea, thanked everyone who has helped make the ground upgrade project possible.
"We are indebted to Sport NI and The Old Ballyclarians Association for the financial assistance which has helped us make this happen. When the work is complete we will have a superb playing surface - one of the best anywhere in Northern Ireland. It has been necessary to use qualified personnel to oversee the project and we have decided to go straight to the top, enlisting the services of Alan Lewis who is an ECB pitch advisor, the highest qualified there is around.
Sport Northern Ireland Chief Executive Eamonn McCartan said: “As the lead agency for the development of sport in Northern Ireland, we are extremely pleased to be able to support this worthwhile project. Providing facilities and increasing participation in sport are key to our work, and this project will deliver a range of benefits for the local community, local schools, young people, coaching, and encourage increased female participation.”
The ground improvement works will mean that the club won't be able to use the newly laid pitch until summer 2011. But alternative arrangements have been made to allow its teams to compete as normal this season.
"We are extremely grateful to Ballyclare High School who have offered us the use of their impressive new ground at Rashee Road until we can return to playing at The Cloughan," McCrea added.
President of the Old Ballyclarians Association, Simon Thompson, commented: "We are delighted to have been able to help Templepatrick Cricket Club bring this ambitious project to fruition. These ground improvements will be another major addition to the facilities at The Cloughan and will help the club provide enhanced sporting opportunities for people of all ages from Ballyclare and beyond.”