A second tranche of funding is to be made available to clubs across Northern Ireland through the DCMS (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) Grassroots Facilities Investment Fund.
In 2021-22 Northern Ireland received £700,000 of the funding, which is being provided by Central Government as part of a £205 million investment into football facilities across the UK to level up access to quality sport provision.
A second funding pot of £700,000 is set to be made available in 2022-23 to improve and refurbish facilities in Northern Ireland, creating a better grassroots football infrastructure foundation.
The fund will aim to improve the quality of community facilities, bring people together to enjoy playing sport in their local area, regenerate communities and enhance social cohesion.
In the 2021-22 financial year 26 grassroots capital projects throughout Northern Ireland were supported by the fund, which was delivered by the Irish FA in conjunction with DCMS.
Among the recipients last season were Ballyvea FC in the Mournes where a multi-use games area was installed, while Greenisland FC in Co Antrim used the funding to improve disabled access and to create better storage areas. Dungiven Celtic in Co Londonderry used the cash injection to upgrade fencing and club facilities, and NFC Kesh in Fermanagh enhanced their dressing rooms and access around the pitch.
A range of projects were funded, including upgrades to pitches and changing rooms, seated stands, pathways/standing areas, bespoke equipment and storage facilities.
The main objectives of the Irish FA/DCMS Grassroots Facilities Investment Fund are:
- To improve the capital infrastructure of grassroots football clubs across Northern Ireland;
- To increase participation in sport across Northern Ireland, improving mental and physical health of participants;
- To increase the number of multi-sport facilities in the country to boost participation in non-football sports;
- To reduce the postcode lottery for quality facilities by directing investment to disadvantaged areas or areas of deprivation and boost participation in these areas;
- To deliver improved access to sports facilities for women and girls and other under-represented groups, to increase participation in these groups;
The additional funding pot of £700,000 for 2022-23 will support small capital projects. The minimum award available will be £15,000 with a maximum award of up to £30,000.
In order to be eligible for funding applicants must be able to demonstrate evidence of match funding, security of tenure (minimum 10-year lease if the applicant does not own or operate its own football facility) and all relevant statutory approvals.
It is anticipated that funding applications will open by the end of this month. Further details will follow in due course on official Irish FA social media channels.