Big Pat unites with Craigavon primary school in funding drive for community pitch

  • Former Manchester United player runs Train 2B Smart project
  • Pitch at Tullygally PS unused due to anti-social behaviour
  • Campaign to raise £700k for pitch the whole community can use

Around £700k is needed to create a state-of-the-art pitch and hub for the Craigavon community, says former soccer player/manager Pat McGibbon.

The Lurgan man has invested many years creating the award-winning Train 2B Smart project and has now hooked up with Tullygally Primary School in an exciting new venture.

Pupils from Tullygally Primary School at Pat McGibbon's Train 2BSmart Hub in  Lurgan

Pupils from Tullygally Primary School at Pat McGibbon's Train 2BSmart Hub in Lurgan

The Craigavon school has limited outdoor resources and has been unable to use their pitch due to incessant anti-social behaviour.

However, with the blessing of the Education Authority and Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council, the school is to bring in Pat McGibbon to develop the pitch into a Train 2B Smart Hub for the whole community.

He plans to use the grounds well after school hours for a range of cross community activities aiming to boost fitness and the mental health of children and their families.

Tullygally PS Principal Kirsty Andrews explains: “We are hoping that Pat brings his Hub over to the school. There is a piece of disused waste ground (beside the school) we have had it signed over to us.

Tullygally PS pupils in a game of Tug of War at Lurgan's Centrepoint

Tullygally PS pupils in a game of Tug of War at Lurgan's Centrepoint

“Pat will come over and he will introduce his Train 2B Smart and we can work out of his Hub.

“Early intervention is key to get those children knowing the mental and physical well-being is the way forward. That will also have a bigger influence then on the parents and the wider community.”

Ms Andrews is mindful that the school pitch is currently unused because of the anti-social behaviour. She is keen that this project moves forward for the sake of the children and the community.

“But without the funding, we can’t move forward. The EA has already signed over the pitch and council are working hard to give us the waste ground behind it but without a working Assembly, I am afraid this will be a missed opportunity.

Tullygally PS pupils in a game of Tug of War at Lurgan's Centrepoint

Tullygally PS pupils in a game of Tug of War at Lurgan's Centrepoint

“We need £700,000 to make this project work and start building the Train 2B Smart Hub at Tullygally Primary School,” she said.

But the Hub won’t be just for Tullygally PS, as Pat explains: “The whole idea with Train 2B Smart is for the local and wider community to be able to participate in multi-sports. That’s the key aim. We know not everybody is going to be an elite athlete, that’s not the point. The point is that everybody can get enjoyment out of it. This is why the children are here. We want them to enjoy sport.”

And Pat has the backing of some big names from his former manager Alex Ferguson and team mates Roy Keane and Roy Carroll.

Former Manchester United goalkeeper and Wigan Athletic player, Roy Carroll popped into Centrepoint in Lurgan on Thursday to help train some of the pupils.

And he was very impressed, spotting potential stars of the future.

Former Northern Ireland player Roy is fully behind Pat’s bid for a Train 2B Smart Hub in Craigavon.

He said: “Pat and I used to play football together at Wigan Athletic. I came home about three years ago and Pat asked me to come up and help out and it is always a pleasure to come and work with him again.

“I just came here today to give the kids a bit of training. It is great what they are doing.

“Sports takes a lot of pressure of kids and that’s what its all about. It takes a lot of pressure of adults as well when they go out on the pitch and play, whatever sport they want to play.

“It’s a great release. It’s great what Pat McGibbon is doing here. Train 2B Smart is a great programme,” he said.

Tullygally Primary School principal Kirsty Andrews with pupils Jenny Forker, Keeli Campbell, Rozalia Wrabrewska, Abi Simmons and Lily Haughian

Tullygally Primary School principal Kirsty Andrews with pupils Jenny Forker, Keeli Campbell, Rozalia Wrabrewska, Abi Simmons and Lily Haughian

Roy said he loves coaching and especially goalkeepers.

He says he has been helping out in Club NI and he plans on opening a goalkeeping school.

Former Manchester United goalkeeper Roy Carroll gives tips to Tullygally Primary School pupil Jayden Smyth at a special coaching session run by former team mate Pat McGibbon's Train 2B Smart Hub

Former Manchester United goalkeeper Roy Carroll gives tips to Tullygally Primary School pupil Jayden Smyth at a special coaching session run by former team mate Pat McGibbon's Train 2B Smart Hub