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New pitch at Woodvale Park will be home to Shankill Juniors

Date: 12 Apr 2024

Category: Supporting communities

Two boys from Shankill Juniors heading ball with Councillor Nicola Verner and Conrad Kirkwood, President of the Irish FA, holding a shovel

Shankill Juniors FC will be the anchor club at Belfast City Council’s new 3G pitch in Woodvale Park.

Work has begun on a £200,000 project which will see an aging multi-use games area in the park transformed into a new nine-a-side football pitch with LED floodlights.

The project is funded by Belfast City Council and the UK Government through the Irish FA/DCMS Grassroots Facilities Investment Fund, managed locally by the Irish FA.

The new pitch will be Shankill Juniors’ first permanent base since it was formed in 1987.

Councillor Nicola Verner from Belfast City Council said: “Thousands of children have come through the ranks at Shankill Juniors over the last few decades, so it is fantastic to see work commence on this new 3G pitch. It follows years of work to find a suitable home in the centre of the community that the club serves.

“Shankill Juniors now has over 250 boys and girls playing at the club, so this is a much-needed investment. The facilities will provide a base for the teams to hold training and host matches, so I have no doubt that it will help the club to continue to prosper and grow in the years ahead.

“The new pitch will also be used by other sports clubs, educational institutions and the local community, so it will have a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of a wide range of users in the area.”

Conrad Kirkwood, President of the Irish FA said: “Good grassroots football facilities means a better experience for everyone participating in the game, at whatever level they're at.

“As president of our governing body for football, and someone who has had a lifelong involvement in grassroots football, it is something that I am passionate about.

"It aligns with our commitment to support new and improved facilities, and, with the hosting of the UEFA EURO 2028 in the UK and Ireland it is crucial that all levels of the game benefit from facilities investment too.”

Craig Fleck from Shankill Juniors FC said: “The grant and development of the new 3G pitch is a game changer for not only us as a grassroots football club, but the community as a whole. This marks a significant milestone for our club that’s been facilitating football for 3 to 16-year-olds for the past 37 years.

“The facility will not only enhance our training and match experiences but also provide a safe and modern space for the 250+ young people we have on our books, to develop their skills, social cohesion, and promote healthy lifestyles for generations to come. This is part of a bigger vision that we have for the club but also the benefit of the wider community.”

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