SWINDON Rugby Club have been awarded £50k by Sport England to improve their facilities at Greenbridge Road.
Swindon are one of 1,300 local sports projects to receive the funding through its Inspired Facilities project, part of the Olympic and Paralympic legacy programme.
The money will be used to refurbish the existing changing rooms, including the showers as well as finishing off a third full-size pitch that the club purchased last year on the Oakfield School site.
The club has already engaged with contractors to supply the work and it should start imminently with the aim of being finished for the start of the new season in September.
Swindon Rugby Club President Dave Berry was really pleased that the club had finally managed to secure the funding having been rejected for the same grant in 2013.
“I’m delighted to get the grant, this money has been our target for the last two years, it allows us to develop. We’re all about rugby at Swindon Rugby Club and I’m so happy.”
“We got knocked back on this application last year and corrected the feedback this time around,” said Berry.
“Our facilities are currently tired, they need refreshing, there are two things that makes a rugby club, changing facilities and playing facilities.
The grant is not just for improving their adult rugby facilities it also means Swindon can can continue to grow their junior section.
There has been a huge increase in the number of juniors at club in the last five years, participation has doubled to more than 220 young members.
Berry says the Swindon area still has scope to further increase its participation in rugby. The district represents 4% of the South West population but only 1% of its’ rugby players. A stat the Club want to help increase closer to the national average of 3%.
“Looking forward we can expect a large increase. The more the merrier as far as I’m concerned, I would like to see more than 300 youngsters – that means up to under 18 – playing regularly in the short term over next three years.”
North Swindon MP, Justin Tomlinson, thinks the grant is a reward for the hard work of the club have put in with local youngsters.
“Sport England have rightly recognised and supported the fantastic work of Swindon Rugby club who are delivering real opportunities for young people in our community. These new top class training facilities will be a real boost for the club and the town.”
Sport England’s Chair Nick Bitel said the money is a tangible positive from the 2012 London Games.
“One and a half years on from the Olympics, this National Lottery investment is helping us deliver a lasting sporting legacy in Swindon,” said Bitel.
“With investment now on offer from our Inspired Facilities Fund until 2017, we look forward to supporting many more sports clubs in the South West who play such a vital role in grassroots sport.”
Swindon Rugby Club is focussed on getting its senior side into the national leagues but Berry wants a strong youth section to provide the spine of any advance in its first team.
“In recent years we’ve had some fantastic juniors, Tom Mannion, Mike Thompson, Cameron Brown and even Adam Westall. Without these products of our mini and junior sections we are nowhere.”