After Conrad Kirkwood became Irish FA President last month the first email to arrive in his inbox was an invitation to officially open Ballyvea FC’s new community hub in rural Co Down.
The new President duly accepted the invitation and did the honours at Stanley Park near Kilkeel at the weekend.
Ballyvea’s new hub, set against the spectacular backdrop of the Mourne mountains, features four grass pitches and a state-of-the-art clubhouse and changing room facilities.
Good clubs can be judged by the warmth of their welcome and chairman Trevor McConnell and secretary David Crutchley are great ambassadors for Ballyvea
Apart from being a hub for the community, it will also be home to the club’s first team, who have just moved to the Mid-Ulster League, and its reserves, who play in the Newcastle and District League. It also has several youth teams operating in various leagues.
The Irish FA President said: “I was honoured to be asked to open what is a top notch football facility and community hub. It shows the power of football to bring people together and improve communities.
“Good clubs can be judged by the warmth of their welcome and chairman Trevor McConnell and secretary David Crutchley are great ambassadors for Ballyvea.”
He congratulated all involved in creating the hub and wished the club - it was formed in 1976 - all the best for “what is clearly a bright future”.
Radio commentator and football pundit Liam Beckett acted as MC at the official opening of the impressive new complex in the heart of the Mournes.
Meanwhile, the Irish FA President also attended a Northern Ireland Powerchair team training session at Ballysillan Leisure Centre over the weekend.
He said he was “hugely impressed” by the team, who will be competing at the Powerchair World Cup in Australia next year.
The Northern Ireland squad train every Sunday, with some players travelling from as far afield as Fermanagh and Monaghan to attend the sessions.
“They show huge dedication. It was great to meet the team, their families and the coaching staff,” he said.
Main image: Irish FA President Conrad Kirkwood with Ballyvea FC chairman Trevor McConnell and MC Liam Beckett at the official opening of the club’s new community hub in the heart of the Mournes.