Iochdar pitch project a step closer to fruition

As part adj
Charlotte Hannaway presents a fundraising cheque to Kate (centre) and Brendan MacPhee of Iochdar Saints

Plans to create a new football pitch at Iochdar in South Uist have been submitted to Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, bringing to fruition a community aspiration over 15 years in the making.

When Sgoil An Iochdair Agus A’Choimhearsnacdh

— Iochdar School and Community — was formed in 1999, several key project were identified, including the creation of a full-size football pitch.

The current facility at Iochdar Hall is used by Iochdar Saints but is in a state of disrepair, with the grass pitch rooted into very sandy soil which is itself sitting on shingle and terram.

The Sgoil began looking into upgrading the existing pitch in earnest around six years ago but were met with a series of hurdles, including identifying who owned the existing pitch. Once this was resolved and a lease agreed the group successfully applied for £8,500 from Awards for All which covered the creation of the plans now submitted.

If approved, the plans will see the creation of a 4G all-weather pitch – there is not currently a full size all-weather pitch in the Uists or Benbecula – and changing rooms.

The cost of the project is estimated at £1,251,600, and the community have raised around £20,000 so far. Once planning permission is secured fundraising will begin in earnest, Dr Kate Dawson of Sgoil An Iochdair Agus A’Choimhearsnacdh said.

“Football brings so many of the younger members of our community into team sports, and into fitness”, she said. “There’s also a junior team and a women’s team meeting. Having an enjoyable social focus makes living in our islands richer and more vibrant, and helps to young talented people in the locality, giving them a taste of community involvement.

“The current infrastructure is barely enough to give local teams enough space to train and compete, let alone reciprocate with teams elsewhere. Iochdar Saints are an extremely successful team, but always have to travel away for their more important matches because of the lack of a pitch. They have nowhere local to train, and there’s always a need to rest the existing grass pitches — exciting times are ahead.”