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Work carried out by Coleraine impressive: Lyons

STORMONT’s Communities Minister Gordon Lyons admits he was impressed by the “potential” of the club’s redevelopment plans after visiting The Showgrounds on Wednesday morning…

Mr Lyons was advised of the club’s proposal around developing the Ballycastle Road as the North West Regional Stadium at The Showgrounds. This would enable the venue to become a premier sporting destination and position the region prominently on the global stage.

The Bannsiders’ project would include new stands at the south side next the railway track and the replacement of the Jack Doherty stand increasing the capacity to 8,000, incorporating provisions for player development, hospitality, media as well as safe modern spectator amenities.

Mr Lyons, who is originally from the town and a former pupil at Dalriada in Ballymoney, says he knows how important the club is in terms of community involvement.

“I was really pleased to be invited by local MLAs; Alan Robinson and Maurice Bradley to see the club and to see some of the progress that has been made,” he said.

“More importantly, the progress the club wants to see made as well.

“It’s been great to go right across Northern Ireland to visit so many different clubs, grassroots and the performance clubs as well.

“As Minister for Sport, I’m committed to helping all sport. Football has grown so much in recent years, especially among women and girls, so I want to do whatever I can to help sport.

“I used to regularly walk past the club on my way home from school, so I know the area and know it well.

“I know the huge potential that’s here but what really struck me here today is the number of young people that’s taking part as well and how they are really enjoying the ability to use the facilities.

“I’ve seen that everywhere I go. Football is not just about the club on a Saturday afternoon anymore.

“Throughout the week you see it being used and that’s why it’s important to see the facilities here as well.”

Coleraine are hoping to hear positive news when sub-regional stadia funding is released and Mr Lyons praised the club for their pro-active approach in improving facilities at The Showgrounds in recent years.

“The work already by Coleraine is impressive,” he continued.

“I think that shows the desire for continual improvement and that’s great for me to see.

“A lot of clubs have been doing the same by continuing to invest in their facilities.

“Of course, some are waiting for the sub-regional stadia to put that money together with their own to make improvements that are necessary.

“From my point of view, I want to see all the facilities that we have brought up to standard and improved to allow more people to take part.

“I want to see more people get more active more often and football is an important part of that. I don’t want any young person not being able to take part in a sport because the facilities aren’t there and that’s what I’m determined to change.”