- Blackburn United have opened their new facility, New Murrayfield Stadium.
- The club is estimating that 500 local people will benefit directly and lots more indirectly.
- Gregor Kerr spoke to Club President, Ian McGinty
Youth football in Scotland is well and truly on the up. With clubs rapidly employing ground-breaking sports scientists, dietitians and building great new premises. Blackburn United are a club that can proudly include their name in that list, with the creation of the New Murrayfield Stadium. The state-of-the-art facilities include a new 3G pitch, which can be used for the local community, as a means of promoting healthy lifestyle towards young kids and encouraging them to take up the sport.
Speaking exclusively to Youth Football Scotland, Blackburn United president Ian McGinty spoke of the need to develop the facilities: “As long ago as 2004 the Club recognised that the facilities at New Murrayfield Park were no longer fit for purpose and this was the catalyst for the Junior side (the semi-professional side) and the youth football sides in the village to come together under the one banner, creating the Blackburn United Community Football Club.”
From there, the club were able to come together and source the funding to develop the New Murrayfield Park, with the intentions of developing young, aspiring coaches, helping children to mature and to unite the community as one.
However, the club faced many hurdles on the road to the new production, as McGinty told us: “In 2009, Blackburn United achieved the SFA Quality Mark after five years of hard work on the coaching and governance sides of the Club, achieving the WLC accreditation the same year and the SFA’s full Community Club award in 2011.”
He added: “This, in turn opened the door to funding streams including those of SportScotland and of local government funds that helped contribute to the design and construction of New Murrayfield Park and its official opening by SFA Chief Executive Stewart Regan in 2013”. From there, the club achieved the SFA Quality Legacy mark and they haven’t looked back since.
What kept McGinty and the rest of the club going through this monumental effort? He told us: “The key has been hard work, patience and perseverance, something that appears not to be recognised by many who want a short cut to the type of facilities we now have.”
The club president had numerous key people to thank for their efforts, such as Jim Johnstone, the club vice-president, who McGinty described as “the inspiration”. He reserved special credits to David Jones and Angela Campbell, the club secretary and treasurer respectively. The club relies on coaches; and Mark Campbell, the club’s Youth Coach, and the Coach Development Officer, Brian Smillie, were not forgotten about by McGinty.
So, just how can these facilities aid the development of Blackburn United as a club and as a link between the local communities? “The Club hope to continue to provide a range of benefits to the public, directly and indirectly, including offering people a local destination for participation in sport and reducing anti-social behaviour. The benefits will include participation in sport for health and skills improvement, generating a range of personal and community outcomes including increased confidence and social engagement.”
“The Club anticipates over 500 local people will benefit directly and many more indirectly through the positive benefits with improved quality of life in the community.”
Focusing on the playing side, McGinty has one eye on the present and one eye on the future: “As for the playing side, the Club hope to continue to grow the range of under-age playing opportunities at boys and at girls level, see these teams hopefully compete at the top end of youth football in West Lothian and nationally.”
“The Club hope to see the adult (Junior) side continue their push for promotion from the East Region South Division to the East Region Premier League, see the Ladies team similarly battle for promotion to the next tier of the Ladies game. Hopefully, a few of them adding a trophy or two to the growing collection at New Murrayfield Park!”