Belfast City Council is planning to have five new 3G pitches completed by the autumn of 2015, the city’s third annual Sports Forum was told this week.
Coaches from more than 40 sports clubs met at Belfast City Hall on Monday, January 14 to have their say on the council’s Physical Activity and Sports Development Strategy.
They were informed about the council’s ambitious £10m three year investment to improve playing pitches throughout the city.
The playing fields at Cliftonville, Woodlands, Falls Park, Ormeau Park and Cherryvale are all due to have new 3G pitches, including floodlighting, changing facilities and fencing.
The council also plans to install or upgrade changing facilities at five other sites – the Waterworks, Dixon, Victoria, Musgrave Park and Ballysillan – with work expected to start by the end of 2013.
With recent statistics showing that more than 60% of adults in Northern Ireland are overweight or obese, the annual Belfast Sports Forum Conference met to examine ways of improving access to sporting activities.
The council’s strategy contains five key goals: boosting participation; improving sporting facilities, developing community involvement; developing performance and encouraging partnership between sporting bodies.
Councillor Gerry McCabe, Chairman of the Parks and Leisure Committee said the Sports Forum gave local sports clubs an opportunity to have their say.
“These are the people who are on the coalface and know what their communities need. There are a multitude of issues faced by clubs – facilities, money for running projects and having the right support from the council in running events.”
Peter Shaw of Belfast Community Sports Development Network (BCSDN), the Council’s partner in implementing the strategy, said one of the main challenges was encouraging young people to try out new sports.
“We can have great facilities but if we don’t have the people to use these facilities then there is no point. This is where local coaches and clubs can help to encourage greater involvement in sport.”
During the Forum, more than 50 delegates from a wide variety of sports including Cycling, Martial Arts, Gaelic Football, Soccer, Tennis, Swimming, boxing, Athletics, Softball, Netball, Sailing, Trampolining and Gymnastics took part in five interactive workshops.
Mr Shaw added: “There was a very positive feedback. The clubs agreed 15 key actions that they would like to see undertaken in 2013 and we will be working hard to achieve them.”