THE doors of Clydebank Community Sport Hub are now officially open, after the Dean Street sports venue gathered together its member clubs to unveil the first class facilities.
The conclusion of the project, with a £3.8million investment gathered from West Dunbartonshire Council, the Scottish Government, sportscotland, the Gaelic Athletic Association, Cashback for Communities, Social Investment Scotland, Scottish Rugby, the Robertson Trust and the Scottish Landfill Communities Fund, has transformed the former site and now sees Glasgow Gaels, Clydebank Rugby Club, GTF Tae Kwon-do and Drumchapel Amateurs FC deliver a sports hub which is the envy of clubs across the country.
The GAA in Scotland will benefit from the site not simply through the home matches hosted by Glasgow Gaels, but also from the use of the facilities for other events—particularly University GAA matches and tournaments. The hub will also greatly assist the development of Gaelic games here through the quality coaching which can be offered from underage level through to men’s and ladies’ Gaelic football by Glasgow Gaels.
Present at the unveiling (above right) were both Mark Hanniffy—Ireland’s Consul General to Scotland—and Kieran Gleeson of the British Provincial Council GAA, as the great benefits which will be felt by the Irish community in Scotland were recognised.
Mr Hanniffy spoke of the great efforts over a number of years which have led to the opening of the hub, as well as the huge strides which have been taken in the short time since construction began earlier this year.
“A huge amount has been achieved in a very short time,” the Consul said. “I know the whole project has been on the go for seven years now so it has been a long piece of work in many ways, but from the time the first sod was turned earlier this year to the official opening today it has been a very quick process.
“It’s really great to be here to see an extraordinary facility which has been put in place through the collaboration of different sporting organisations here in West Dunbartonshire and across Scotland.
“I think they can be really proud of what they have achieved here, and of the contribution it can make to sport across Scotland.”
His words were echoed by Marc Kilkenny, who not only worked on the project as architect, but who is also a member of Glasgow Gaels.
“We were a club that for so long didn’t have a fixed home so to have a place now that we can call ‘ours’—along with the other sports clubs—is amazing,” he said. “The development of the club in the last few years is amazing, from the youth, through all the age levels and up to senior, and this is only going to continue that development, and the club will go from strength to strength.”
World class facility
The former playing fields at Dean Street were the home of Clydebank Rugby Club, but with a dilapidated club house and a difficult playing surface, the decision was taken to begin the momentous project which would transform the venue and open it up to a variety of sports, which can now benefit from the huge investment made.
Two fully redeveloped grass pitches are now available, in addition to the full-size, floodlit, synthetic pitch—the largest in the country—which will be used for GAA matches. The hub also offers space for community groups to use alongside the home clubs, as well as a social club, and Mr Gleeson of the British Provincial Council GAA identified that social element as being of particular benefit to the efforts to develop the GAA in Scotland.
“This is a world class facility that we have here now in Scotland and the GAA are so proud of the facility that is now available here for Gaelic games,” he explained. “First of all I want to give credit to Glasgow Gaels for their innovation, their foresight and the work that they have put into this project. Speaking to Gaels as I have done here today with regards to Gaelic games going forward I’m hugely optimistic for the development of the game here in Scotland.
“Gaelic games at university level now has a facility that they’ve never had before. We can play games here under floodlights and we have a social club available to them—so when they gather together for these tournaments they can go inside and enjoy themselves. There’s very much a social aspect to this, and that’s important.”
While the investment which enabled construction of the site is now concluded, an ongoing investment of £90,000 over the next three years has been pledged by the Big Lottery Fund, and community partners in the site will also enjoy the fruits of this support with the use of the site in other ways, such as through the allotment which were included in the development.
The neighbouring Whitecrook Primary School have been allocated one such allotment, while the remaining plots and the community garden will be made available for the local community. Councillor Iain McLaren, the Council’s Convener for Infrastructure, Regeneration and Economic Development, was the man to cut the ribbon, and he spoke of the unrivalled facilities which the hub offers the people of West Dunbartonshire.
“The Clydebank Community Sport Hub is a wonderful facility that simply can’t be matched in this area,” he said. “The transformation of this site has been phenomenal, having gone from being almost derelict to offering an impressive range of facilities which will draw people from near and far.
“The regeneration of this site will bring huge benefits to Whitecrook and to Clydebank as a whole and these will be seen for generations to come.”
The size of investment was made possible not only through the hard work of Glasgow Gaels and the other clubs in delivering a vision of what the hub could be with the correct support, but also in an analysis of the needs of the local area—with the opportunity to improve health and wellbeing in the area proving crucial in securing support.
“This hub is about more than sporting facilities,” Councillor Marie McNair, Vice Convener of Infrastructure, Regeneration and Economic Development said. “It allows us as a council to help improve our residents’ health and wellbeing, gives us a space to engage with and educate our young people, and encourages volunteering and community participation.
“It has been an exciting time watching this development progress and I can’t wait to see the space in full use.”