FAI boss, John Delaney, is fully behind our proposed state-of-the art soccer facility in Furbo, which will cater for hundreds of children along the Western seaboard.
“John and the FAI have been extremely supportive of our proposed playing facilities at Na Forbacha,” says club secretary, Niall Rooney.
“Over the last number of years, his advice and guidance have been invaluable to the club, as we embark on this major development of facilities for the Connemara Gaeltacht.”
Planning permission has already been granted for an astro-based training facility and an international-size grass pitch – there are only about three of the later already in the Galway City area.
Not alone are the facilities badly needed for West Galway, the existing set-up is wholly inadequate for the growing club.
“We have over 300 playing members – 250 of which are under 18 – the existing community facility at Na Forbacha caters for all types of sports, and is increasingly coming under pressure due to the usage of all local clubs in the Bearna/Na Forbacha parish,” Niall adds.
“We get children from An Spideal, Rosmuc, Indreabhán, and Lettermore, and are very keen to promote soccer in the community and try and promote Irish through the medium of soccer. That is one of our unique selling points – there are very few soccer clubs in Ireland that have Irish-speaking juvenile sections.
“We won the FAI Club of the Month award in February 2013, and have recently started soccer for girls, which was one of our visions when we competed in the Club of the Year in July 2013.
“We went on to the final at the FAI AGM, and while we were highly-complemented for our submission, we recognised that we had a long way to go in developing the club.
“We were most keen to embark on a girls section, and provide better facilities for the ever-growing population in Barna/Na Forbacha, and its environs.”
The site has been marked out and cleared, while a decision is awaited regarding a grant for the first phase of the development – this is currently in the hands of the Department of Transport, Tourism, and Sport.
“We have applied for the Sports Capital Grant Aid, which is money that the government dishes out to sporting organisations. That had to be in by April 24, and we hope to secure the grant aid. We have applied for the maximum of €150,000, and are expecting to hear sometime in September/October, before the election!”
While the facilities are badly needed, they are coming at a huge cost – the first phase will involve the development of the astro facililty, which will cost in the region of €500,000, with the same price again for the grass-based pitch.
“The problem up there is the granite – of that €500,000, it will cost €125,000 to just take the stone out. That’ll be crushed and put back in for draining, so it won’t go to waste, but it is a huge cost,” adds Niall.
“The astro turf pitch can be used in the winter, no matter the weather conditions, and can also be used to play small-sided games, live five-a-side, but it wouldn’t be big enough for 11 versus 11.
“The benefit is also for training at night, under lights – we have no lights in Furbo at the moment. So, we have to use the astro pitch in Indreabhán or Drom – it’s costing us between €13,000-15,000 per year to use other all-weather facilities.”
In addition to the club saving money by having its own pitch, it will be able to allow access to other local clubs, including the hurling, camogie, and football.
“The plan is that all the clubs will have come together, under the auspices of Coiste Pairc Na Forbacha, with the aim of developing a better sports complex/ club house/changing facilities for all sporting organisations that will use the facility.”