Kilbeggan ‘Centre of Excellence’ plan outlined by CCFL

Kilbeggan ‘Centre of Excellence’ plan outlined by CCFL

A sporting body which caters for over eighty teams across the midlands has set out its vision for a Centre of Excellence to be located in Kilbeggan.

At the moment, there may be horses grazing on the 4.98 hectare site purchased around five years ago by the Combined Counties Football League (CCFL) – but there are plans for a €1.1m spend to turn the lands into pitches and dressing rooms.

The CCFL has set out an outline of its intentions in a submission on the Westmeath County Development Plan, as part of its request that the zoning on the Clara Road site be changed to Sporting Recreational in order to develop and complete the CCFL Centre of Excellence.

If the project comes to fruition, the CCFL envisage it has having three pitches, a walking track, dressing rooms, a meeting room, offices a kitchen and catering area and an equipment storage shed.

Chris Hand, secretary of the CCFL is excited about what the project could bring to the sport in the midlands – but cautions that at this stage, it would be more accurate to describe it as a “hoped-for” development than an actual plan.

“We acquired the land a number of years ago. We really haven’t had an opportunity to develop it. It’s one of a number of projects we are actually looking at in terms of the whole soccer family. There is a number of different potential developments that we are looking at,” says Chris.

“I suppose because the County Development Plan is being redrawn now is the time to reach out to the county council and say ‘look: this is what we’d like to do there.

“The local community in Kilbeggan is aware that we have bought the fields and that we were hoping we might be able to do something there. So that is really where we are."

Mr Hand explained that what is envisaged is a centre of excellence for all the teams in the league, which at the moment stands at around 87 from a club roll of around 48 drawn from across Westmeath, Offaly, Longford and Laois.

When it came to identifying a potentially suitable location, Kilbeggan was an obviously ideal one, given how central it is, allowing even the potential of renting it to clubs from other areas to help defray the maintenance and running costs.

“It’s potentially very exciting,” says Chris, while remaining careful not to give the impression that they are on the verge of getting the horses out and the horsepower in.

The aim is to carry out the work over seven phases. Phase 1 has been complete – it was the purchase of the site. Phase 2 is where the project is currently at – the zoning request.

Phase 3 is intended to see the feasibility study undertaken and at Phase 4, the tasak is completion of the planning application.

For phase 5, the League intends developing three pitches, the walkway and equipment shed; phase 6 is to see the construction of the complex and the erection of floodlighting at pitch 1; the final phase is to see pitch two replaced with an all-weather pitch and with floodlighting erected. The estimated cost is in the region of €1.1m.

“The figures are approximate: they’re probably a little bit out of kilter now because everything keeps changing in terms of prices. They are very much estimates,” says Chris.

“But look fingers crossed, it’s something that may happen down the road it’s good to have the land anyway; it’s a good starting point.”

When it comes to funding, the CCFL would be hoping for a mix of grant-aid and sponsorship, but will likely also have to fundraise as well.

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