Council approves £44k funding boost for sports clubs

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NEWTOWNABBEY Borough Council has approved funding totalling more than £44,000 for three local sports clubs.

At their monthly meeting on Monday, March 25, members ratified a Leisure Committee decision to grant £20,000 to Monkstown Boxing Club, £19,116 to Templepatrick Cricket Club and £4,920 to Cliftonville Cricket Club.

The money has been allocated under the local authority’s capital funding programme for private sports clubs.

Monkstown Boxing Club will use the money to build an extension at its Cashel Drive gym.

Paul Johnston, the club’s Head Coach, said that a new fitness studio and education room will add to what is already a “world class community sports facility”.

“The extension will be dual purpose,” he told the Times. “It will be used as an education room for our after schools programme, funded by the Big Lottery, where young people can come and do homework for an hour or so and then access free coaching and use the fitness suite. We are also planning to deliver women’s only classes during the day in the fitness studio so that women from the estate can come along and take classes like yoga and pilates and take part in a range of health and wellbeing programmes.”

Paul, who is also the club’s Youth Programmes Manager, said that the after schools programme - run in conjunction with Monkstown Community School - is already proving successful, attracting around 30 - 40 young people to the gym every day.

“We’ve found that boxing is a really good way to engage young people, particularly kids with behavioural problems and young people who are at risk of dropping out of education. It is a really good way to re-engage them and get them back on track.

“We are very grateful to Newtownabbey Borough Council, not only for this funding, but for their continued support. We have had great support from the councillors and officers from day one and without that support the club wouldn’t have been the fantastic success that it has been,” he added.

Templepatrick Cricket Club will use its grant aid to make further improvements at its home ground at The Cloughan, Ballyclare, as well as purchase new grounds equipment.

“This money will be a massive boost to us as we get our ground ready for the new season,” said the club’s Cricket Development Officer, Andy McCrea. “It will allow us to prepare quality surfaces for the season starting in May.

“Some of the money will be used to help improve existing equipment storage facilities at the ground, and we are very grateful to Newtownabbey Borough Council for their ongoing support of our club and assisting us to provide a quality cricket facility for the whole community.”

It’s understood that Cliftonville Cricket Club will use its grant funding to lay an artificial wicket at its home ground at City of Belfast Playing Fields, Mallusk.

The council set aside £180,000 for its three-year private sports clubs grants programme, and more than £53,000 is still available for the third and final call for funding applications, which is expected to take place in January 2014.