Craigavon City’s formation during 2007 centred on the concept of investing in youth development as part of a long-term strategy.
This week marked the latest step forward - and, potentially, one of the most significant - in that commitment to the next generation of players.
City can boast two Mid-Ulster Football League teams and a women’s side preparing this week for a cup final appearance in Armagh tonight (Thursday). However, the main focus, as always, remains on youth.
“We considered the players in the area so the feeling was to go for it and now, almost a decade on, we have nine teams from under sevens to under 18s alongside a group of under sixes,” said Craigavon City chairman John Cochrane. “It was wonderful to have support on Monday at our opening from people like DSD Minister Nelson McCausland, Irish Football Association president Jim Shaw, the Mayor of Craigavon Councillor Colin McCusker and so many other officials.
“Funding and help from people at DSD, the Brownlow Neighbourhood Renewal Partnership and SELB allowed us to take this next step by turning an old gravel pitch into a 3G playing surface with floodlights.
“Children now have greater opportunities to play the game and improve and, of course, it is also a site open for hire, with many adult clubs already booking slots.
“We have club training every Monday and Wednesday from 6-10 o’clock covering juniors to seniors, plus youth games on Saturdays across the morning, afternoon and evening.
“Some slots remain on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays so anyone interested can get in touch.
“The total cost of the project is around £440,000 so a major development but one which really provides a wonderful venue for players.
“When you hear the kids playing and training in the evenings or watch them on matchdays it really makes everything worthwhile.
“We have an agreement with the SELB that the venue is open to pupils during the day then we take over around 4.30, so it is about opening up the pitch to as many people as possible.”