Greenisland’s £800,000-plus 3G pitch has been described as a benefit both the club and community.
A first match on Saturday marked the official opening of the facility set to host Greenisland Football Club plus act as a sports hub for the greater region.
Existing outdoor gym equipment alongside a range of future plans add up to a significant boost for sports fans in the area.
Funding arrived courtesy of £700k via the Mid and East Antrim Borough Council plus a Sport NI injection of £128k - with the redevelopment marking the first phase of completion of the dedicated sports hub.
“We’re thrilled to see this exciting project come to fruition here in Greenisland,” said the chair of the Greenisland Regeneration Group, Councillor Andrew Wilson. “This 3G pitch project has been on the agenda of the Greenisland Regeneration Group for a number of years and it’s great to see the top-class facilities come to life.
“Delivering the project was a collective effort from the football club and council and the club committee deserve a lot of praise for their hard work.
“It’s another example of council investing in sports and recreation to benefit everyone and continue to develop good health and wellbeing among all our citizens here in Mid and East Antrim.
“This new pitch will not only benefit the local club, but also the entire local community who can avail of the outdoor gym equipment and get outdoors just in time for
Special guests included the Mayor, councillors, partners and players at the official launch event.
“We’re delighted to have worked in partnership with Mid and East Antrim Borough Council to deliver this fantastic new facility for grassroots football,” said Sport Northern Ireland chief executive Antoinette McKeown. “The aim of this project was to create a facility which would address the needs of the Greenisland area, the club is a progressive club which has had many successes on the field and it’s wonderful to see the hard work that the club has delivered with their outreach programmes such as the Greenisland Bears for players with a disability, mental health programmes as well as work with local primary schools and the development of girls’ football.
“Sport Northern Ireland is pleased to have provided support to the development of this facility, and we look forward to seeing the impact it makes in promoting and developing local sport.”
A special Greenisland FC v Greenisland Irish League Select exhibition game provided Greenisland players past and present an opportunity to showcase skills on the 3G pitch.
“We’re really impressed with this high-spec facility which will not only help develop the club’s talent, but offer a platform for further talent to enjoy and come up through the ranks,” said Greenisland Football Club chairman Clarke Frampton. “This brand new facility will help us continually drive and develop athletes.
“Boasting over 20 competitive and non-competitive teams with over 300 players, Greenisland Football Club continues to grow as not only a football club but as a thriving community hub.
“Thanks to our funders - Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, Sport NI and Greenisland Regeneration Group - for getting behind this much-needed project.”
Players since the club’s formation in 1995 include Northern Ireland internationals Jonny Evans, Corry Evans and Craig Cathcart.