Members of the public are invited to a consultation event in Ballyclare tonight, where plans for a proposed sports hub will be discussed.
The ambitious initiative, ‘The Cloughan Project’, would see current facilities at Ballyclare Rugby Club upgraded, as well as creating new sports facilities at the Doagh Road venue.
The plans to upgrade the current facilities have been discussed in various forms for many years, and form part of the rugby club’s five-year development plan published in 2016.
If the proposals get backing from the local community, they would require significant external investment and support from a variety of sources.
A spokesperson for Ballyclare Rugby Club said: “The purpose of this consultation is to establish that the public feel there is a need for these facilities in Ballyclare and that other sports clubs, potential user groups and members of the public would be interested in using them if they were built.
“This will enable us to approach funders with evidence of need through a public consultation into the type and scope of facilities that people feel are required - the greater the public response, and support, the stronger our case becomes and the more likely we are to secure funding for these projects.”
The plans are currently at a concept stage, but include provision for hockey, football, rugby and cricket facility upgrades, as well as the expansion of the club gym, refurbishment of the club’s indoor hall facilities and the creation of a walking trail linking the Doagh Road to the Rashee Road. There would also be plans for remedial works to The Cloughan Lane and car parks.
The spokesperson continued: “The project has expanded in recent months from a primarily rugby-based plan to become a community sports hub.
“Ballyclare Ladies’ Hockey Club, who used to be based at The Cloughan, but can no longer play due to the gravel hockey pitch being substandard for matches, have to play ‘home’ matches outside of the town.
“Ballyclare Colts FC - an impressive and successful youth football club have no home pitch, they travel to Antrim, Glengormley and Belfast to train and play ‘home’ matches - asking youth footballers to get lifts to these locations multiple times per week puts excessive demands on parents.
“These clubs have expressed support for the plans, we need the public to back them up.”
They added: “Templepatrick Cricket Club are coming off the back of an incredibly successful season and as they continue to thrive, they will require greater facilities to practice and play.
“The rugby club continues to expand, adding a 5th XV and u20 XV this season, when most other clubs are reducing numbers. To support this increase in player numbers they need bigger and better training facilities; not to mention the incredible mini rugby section that continues to thrive on a Saturday morning, with over 150 young boys and girls attending weekly.
“The Youth and Female sections continue to grow and the Clare Hares are hosting the Annual Wooden Spoon International Tag Festival in June 2019, which should see in excess of 400 young people with learning difficulties descend on The Cloughan for a festival of rugby.
“It’s fair to say sport is thriving at The Cloughan. We want to create opportunities for everyone to get involved, regardless of age, gender, social status, disability or religion. Ballyclare has a passion for sport, it’s time everyone had a place to play.”
The organisers are particularly interested to hear from individuals, sports clubs, community groups, schools and other associations who feel that they are limited by a lack of facilities in the town.
The information event will take place at Ballyclare Rugby Club’s Cloughan Lane premises at 7.30pm. Everyone welcome.
For more information, check out The Cloughan Project Facebook page or contact TheCloughanProject@gmail.com