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Community Sports Club secures “groundbreaking” funding

Volunteers and EBSCA board members celebrate securing the groundbreaking funding with players Mary Turping (recently signed to Leeds Rhinos) and Gomersal and Cleckheaton football club player Lincoln Fagborun

A West Yorkshire multi-sports club is celebrating a “groundbreaking” funding win after securing a grant of just under £1.2m.

The investment has been awarded by the Premier League, the FA and the Government’s Football Foundation to East Bierley Community Sports Association (EBSCA) – a community-run, multi-sports association – and will allow the creation of a “transformational” 3G pitch which will bring sporting opportunities and inclusive community activities to thousands of children and young people in Kirklees and the Bradford district.

Secured after 14 years of campaigning by a team of parent volunteers, the money will enable the installation of an all-weather, long-pile synthetic grass pitch for multi-sport use. The new pitch is part of an ongoing plan to create a sporting community “hub” at East Bierley and will serve around 10 existing local sports clubs while creating a new facility for marginalised groups, charities and young people with learning disabilities.

Board member Simon Armitage, who played for the first ever Birkenshaw Bluedogs rugby league team in 1989 and whose sons played for Birkenshaw Bluedogs junior section, said: “It is amazing what can be achieved when a community comes together for a common goal. Our improvement project for what was once just a playing field, represents a real opportunity to make a genuine difference to people’s lives. As a board we volunteered our own professional skills but the will to succeed and refusing to give up were our main drivers.”

He added: “We feel so proud to have secured such groundbreaking funding to help us develop an all-weather facility which allows greater investment in more activities which are inclusive for all youth and special needs organisations, schools, accessible to the local and the wider communities and ultimately, will bring a lasting, meaningful legacy to generations of young people for years to come.”

EBSCA formed in 2012 when Birkenshaw ARLFC and Hunsworth FC combined to generate funds to redevelop the changing rooms at East Bierley Playing Fields. The organisation currently supports Birkenshaw, Hunsworth and Gomersal and Cleckheaton Football Clubs and gained charity status in 2016 after East Bierley Recreation Ground was asset-transferred from Kirklees Council. Following continued campaigning for more than a decade by its volunteers, the association has secured funding from Sport England, the Football Foundation, Locality, Big Lottery, Spen & Batley District Committee for phase one of redevelopment works including pitch upgrades and improved changing facilities.

News of the latest funding has been met with elation by members of the local community as phase two of the redevelopment works can now go ahead.

East Bierley parent Cheryl Bateman, whose sons play for the Birkenshaw Bluedogs, said: “There’s not much around here for our children to do because it’s quite a deprived area of Bradford and our community has been relying on EBSCA to fight our corner for an all-weather outdoor facility and give our children somewhere to go that also improves their health. We are elated that funding is now through and we know the board is already looking ahead to the next phase which will finalise our vision of having a sporting community hub.”

Robert Sullivan, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, added: “The Football Foundation is working closely with our partners to transform the quality of grassroots facilities in England by delivering projects like this across the country.

“Good quality playing facilities have a transformative impact on physical and mental health and play an important role in bringing people together and strengthening local communities. This grant award towards developing a new 3G pitch is fantastic news for the local community and will help give more people access to a great place to play.”