A bold ground-breaking initiative, which will boost access to sport for 80,000 people in Scotland’s capital, is unveiled today (Tuesday 15 November).
Inch Park Community Sports Club (IPCSC) celebrates the opening of its new clubhouse after a 15 year campaign led by Lismore Rugby Club to bring community sport firmly into community hands in Inch Park, South Edinburgh. The clubhouse was officially unveiled by Kenny McAskill MSP, Justice Secretary. The opening coincided with a sports festival on the park for 170 school children from the schools in Edinburgh South.
Malcolm Gillies, Chairman of IPCSC said: “It has been a very long and somewhat tortuous journey to get this project to its opening today, and see what was once a park in terminal decline restored as a dynamic centre for sport, for the community and for the clubs.
“It is a credit to all those involved, on all sides, that we were eventually permitted to break the mould and then all work together, to deliver this facility today, based around existing clubs but available and accessible to all in the community.
“However the facility is not the end, it is just the beginning of a lot of hard work to deliver and enthuse all into exercise and sport. You have been warned - Ballroom dancing anyone?”
Lismore RFC in partnership with Edinburgh South FC and Edinburgh South Cricket Club under their new charitable organisation structure as IPCSC, has looked forward to this day when they will bring together many community supporters and sports members to enjoy what is now one of the best sporting facilities in Edinburgh.
The three community based clubs, all work with the local primary and secondary schools delivering curricular and extra-curricular activities for them. Having the new facility will enable this work to grow further and become a thriving community development base for football, cricket and rugby, in addition to other sports and community activities being able to and encouraged to use the facilities. The facility has already attracted and is now home to a mountain biking club, dance based exercise, Tae-kwan-do and most recently Ballroom Dancing!
Over the last 12 months. IPCSC has provided sporting opportunities to hundreds of adults, young people and children. IPCSC has also recently been awarded community sports hub status by sportscotland and City of Edinburgh Council, the first club based hub in Scotland. This will enable the acceleration of delivery of opportunities in sport and exercise into the community of South Edinburgh, a population of some 80,000 people.
IPCSC is now entering into the final stage of the project, which includes the building of an international standard rugby pitch, and extra cricket and football facilities throughout the park, and has been successful in obtaining funding from CashBack for Communities, via Scottish Rugby.
A £450,000 grant was given by sportscotland, which has worked with IPCSC for some years and is delighted to see this project on the ground Stewart Harris, Chief Executive said “I am delighted that sportscotland has been able to help deliver a 15 year dream – the development of a community sport hub facility here in south Edinburgh.
“It is an example of what can be achieved when enough people are determined to deliver something truly beneficial for their community and it is the fact that it was conceived and created by local people that will ensure its lasting success.
“Those involved have fought not just for their own sports but for sport as a whole. They recognise that getting people more active through sport is such an important objective for our nation’s health and wellbeing and the fruits of their efforts will be borne in better and healthier lives in south Edinburgh.”
Scottish Rugby warmly welcomed today’s official opening. SRU President Ian McLauchlan said: “Lismore Rugby Club have been at the forefront of our drive to increase participation in the game of rugby for quite some time.
“They have been pioneers of the women’s game in the south of Edinburgh and have been trailblazers in developing partnerships with the local authority to offer schoolchildren access to rugby.
“Today is a reward for their persistence and the personal zeal of Malcolm Gillies but it is also just the start of the story as I’m sure they will be chapping at the doors of the Inch and Gilmerton to encourage the community to come in, see what they have to offer and get active here.”
The sport pitch areas of Inch Park until recently managed by Edinburgh Leisure have been leased to to IPCSC under an 80 year lease for the development of the new building and overall management of the sports pitches. IPCSC will over the next few years undertake improvements also on the pitches to ensure the long term quality of play surface is provided for the clubs and community to enjoy.
The City of Edinburgh Council invested £160,000 towards the new clubhouse.
Councillor Deidre Brock, Culture and Sport Convenor for the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “Today is a very important milestone, not just for the community, but for the country as a whole, and this administration is delighted to have been able to bring it to fruition at long last. This facility is one of the first purpose-built community sports clubs in Scotland, with one shared centre offering a range of sports and activities.
‘It’s bound to become a genuine hub for the community, helping inspire people of all ages to try different sports, make new friends and keep active.”