Council Leader visits Kilwinning Football Academy as club set to receive £45k funding boost
Posted on 6 Sep 2021
Kilwinning Community Football Academy’s (KCFA) ambitious plans for Almswall Park sports pavilion and football pitch have moved forward this week.
With the help of the Kilwinning Locality Partnership, the club’s future sports facility is set to benefit from £45,000 funding.
Following approval at a recent Cabinet Meeting, the financial boost from the Community Investment Fund (CIF) will help KCFA proceed with development plans for a state-of-the-art 4G football pitch, creating an outstanding all-weather sports destination for the town.
NAC has green-lighted the significant funding boost to help the club to relay the outdated pitch at Almswall Park which was last upgraded over fifteen years ago.
Helped by the Kilwinning Locality Partnership, the local football academy are also in the final stages of a community asset transfer with the Council which - once complete - will see them own the Almswall Park facility.
Council Leader Joe Cullinane visited Almswall Park and Blacklands Hall – recently leased by the club from the Council – to hear more about the football academy’s exciting plans.
Mick Baird, Chairperson of Kilwinning Community Football Academy said: “We are excited to be moving one step closer to making our future ambitions a reality for both the pitch and sports pavilion at Almswall Park.
“Our aim is to make accessible sports facilities that the people of Kilwinning and the Blacklands community can be proud of and they will want to use and continue to enjoy.
“With us now being in the final stages of the asset transfer of Almswall Park, the awarding of the CIF funding couldn’t have come at a better time.
“As many local people already know, the pitch is in dire need of updating and to get the support from the Council at the offset is fantastic as we develop our offering and demonstrate to prospective funders the benefit the changes will have for active sports in our local area.”
Set to cost over £200k, KCFA’s planned state-of-the-art 4G pitch will require additional financial support from external funders before the ambitious plans for Almswall Park can move ahead.
Mick continued: “Once the asset transfer is complete and the funding is concluded, we hope to relay the pitch and completely revamp the area with the installation of team room, coffee house, seating areas and dugout shelters to make Almswall Park more of a professional looking facility for the members and other football teams.”
But KCFA have already set the pace of change after delivering a host of positive improvements since taking over the lease at Blacklands Hall in March.
The community hall will provide a sustainable income that the football club can contribute towards helping to fund their future aspirations for Almswall Park.
Mick added: “Since taking over the hall, we have been developing new ways of keeping young people active and busy in the Blacklands area, creating an environment where local youth can flourish, have pride in the area and develop into strong young people.”
“As the building has been out of use for some time, we had an extensive list of repairs and upgrade works to do before we could put Blacklands Hall back on the map as a place for local young people and community groups to come together.
“But after enlisting the help of our team of dedicated local volunteers, with a lot of hard graft and determination we have worked together to completely transform the community hall.
“The works have included replastering, damp proofing, sanding and revarnishing the main hall flooring, laying new flooring in the function room, replacing outdoor drainpipes and rooftiles and painting both the interior and exterior of the building, so the hall really looks brand new now and the project has given us something positive to focus on during the pandemic.
“We are really proud of what we have been able to achieve so far and since the improvements have been made, we have seen increased engagement from a number of local community groups now using the hall on a regular basis. These include toddler groups, an arts and crafts group and three youth clubs for primary and secondary school aged pupils.
“The hall is also our destination for Micro-kickers and Mini-Kickers indoor football for nursery aged and primary school pupils as it’s a great place for us to engage with local young people and spot local talent of those interested in developing their football skills with our coaches at the academy.
“The space is also available for anyone in the community for events like birthday parties and engagement parties - the potential is endless.
“We hope that the improvements we have already made will encourage youngsters to become more active in sports and make use of the fantastic sports facilities on their doorstep.”
Council Leader Joe Cullinane commented: “It has been absolutely fantastic to see the great work that Kilwinning Football Academy and volunteers are doing at Blacklands Hall and it is brilliant to see lots of local groups already putting the hall to good use.
“There’s also the chance to fully realise the great potential of Almswall Park where KCFA have the community asset transfer underway. Thanks to the Community Investment Fund, the £45k boost can be used in the coming months to help Kilwinning Football Academy realise their plans to re-develop the Almswall Park pitch and pavilion into a state-of-art facility to be enjoyed by all and I have no doubt that the club’s new horizons will have an inspiring impact on the lives of young people in the Blacklands community and beyond.
“This is a great example of Community Wealth Building in action – our approach to developing a fairer local economy where we work with communities and businesses to create a larger more diverse business base.”