The Isle of Lewis is a fitter, more active place thanks to improved sporting facilities in Back.
Minister for Sport and Commonwealth Games, Shona Robison met with Stewart Regan, Scottish FA Chief Executive, and Jim Fleeting, the governing body’s Director of Football Development, to officially open the improved 3G pitch at Back Football and Recreation Club on Wednesday.
The improvements have fully enclosed the club’s artificial pitch. This has ensured the facilities can be used all year round which will help the island create a legacy from this summer’s Commonwealth Games.
The work was funded from £200,000 from CashBack for Communities and £134,417 from sportscotland. Additional contributions also came from Western Isles Council and LEADER.
Earlier this month, it was announced, the club will receive a new synthetic pitch and indoor equipment thanks to £193,750 from the Big Lottery Fund.
Together, the improvements will enable everyone in Upper Coll and the Isle of Lewis to use the facility for a range of activities which will help local people adopt a more active lifestyle, protected from adverse weather.
The visit was the first stop of a Commonwealth Games legacy tour on Stornoway to coincide with the Scottish Government cabinet meeting.
Earlier in the day, the Minister visited the Western Isles Association for Mental Health, a project awarded £30,000 from the Legacy 2014 Sport Relief Home and Away Programme. The association gives service users a voice to shape mental health support in the Western Isles.
The Minister said: “The new facilities are a huge benefit to the Isle of Lewis. I was here to see work begin and thanks to the dedication of local people this is now a special facility making a real difference to the community.
“CashBack for Communities has been using the ill-gotten gains of criminals and using that money to make a difference across Scotland. By investing in sporting facilities created by communities we are building a legacy for the Commonwealth Games from the ground up. Thanks to places like Back Football and Recreation Club, Scotland is in a great place to take advantage of an inspirational summer of sport.
“The Western Isles are benefitting from the Games in many other ways as well. The Queen’s Baton is assured of a warm reception when it reaches these shores and there are many great events taking place as part of Culture 2014. It’s been good to meet the people who are helping create a legacy from the Games for the Western Islands.”
Louise Martin, Chair of sportscotland said:
“This is an excellent facility that is being used by the people of Lewis , and it’s tremendous that these improvements now allow year-round use. The artificial surface caters for a wide-range of sports and physical activities, providing more and better opportunities for the local community to be active.
“sportscotland was pleased to invest more than £130,000 into Back Football and Recreation Club to augment the £200,000 from the Scottish Government’s excellent Cashback initiative, which continues to make a difference to Scotland’s communities across the country.”
“Stewart Regan said: “The Scottish FA is committed to improving accessibility to football at grassroots level throughout the country and I am especially grateful to the Scottish Government, through its Cashback for Communities programme, for their assistance in enhancing facilities in Back.”
“We are implementing a Facilities Strategy to improve not just the number but the quality of pitches in Scotland and today’s opening is another example of the government and the national sport working together to achieve those aims.”
Del Gunn, Project Manager, Western Isles Association for Mental Health, said:
“This 3 year funding has enabled the Association to support some of the most vulnerable members of the Western Isles community to have an active role in the on-going re-design of mental health service provision at a local level. It is essential that those in receipt of mental health services should have an input in the services they currently receive and but more importantly in how future services are to be developed.”