CARMARTHEN TOWN AFC have unveiled plans for an exciting community project based around a new 3G all-weather football pitch at Richmond Park.
The installation of the 3G pitch will be the catalyst for a wide-ranging community programme based around the Welsh Premier League club.
“The club’s intention is to help create a wider community benefit by helping and supporting people to reach their full potential,” said Project Manager and Club Director Jeff Thomas.
Mr Thomas said the club was forging a number of key partnerships to progress the 3G project.
The cost of the 3G pitch will be in the region of £560,000, with the club currently looking at filling a shortfall of £150,000 for the scheme.
Mr Thomas said: “We have always been recognised locally as a great community club, keen to get involved in helping the wider community. Our focus has always been much more than just our ground at Richmond Park.
“Our 3G plan includes a community programme with particular emphasis on socially and economically challenged areas of Carmarthen.
“Where we can help these socially and economically challenged areas, we will be able to provide use of the 3G pitch for free, for their benefit.”
The 3G pitch will be available to be used by the wider community outside of Premier League match times and other Carmarthen Town training and fixture commitments.
It is yet another feather in the cap for the go-ahead team at Carmarthen Town AFC.
Club chairman Chris Edwards said: “We have been recognised for a number of years now for having some of the finest ground facilities in the Welsh Premier League – our most recent addition came in the form of new changing rooms, café and offices at the St Peter’s Church end of the ground.
“We already have a very active Community Centre on site at Richmond Park and this latest development will provide a further boost for the community at large. Engaging with the community in Carmarthen is a key ambition for us.
“We have had an offer of funds to help us carry our ground improvements to the current turf pitch at Richmond Park. But that would not fit in with our more ambitious plans for a 3G pitch, which would, of course, be a greater asset for the wider community.”
Project Manager Jeff Thomas said the 3G team was totally committed to bridging the funding shortfall of £150,000 for the scheme.
“The 3G project and the associated community programme represents a key building block in the club’s future ambitions – ambitions which include progressing on the football field and progressing our work within the wider community of Carmarthen Town.
“Efforts to close the funding gap have been going on for the past two years and we remain as determined as ever to reach our goal.
“With £410,000 already committed to the project, it will be a tragedy to see the project falter now at this late stage, especially when you consider the benefits it will bring to our town.
“The club’s intention is to help create a wider community benefit by helping and supporting people to reach their potential. It is hoped to increase meaningful voluntary engagement and to provide a learning and development platform.
“The provision of a 3G facility will be essential in attracting young people to take full advantage of the educational opportunities which will become available.”
Partnerships are being forged with organisations including schools, family centres and the University of Wales Trinity St David.
Mr Thomas added: “The University have offered tremendous support and are committed to work with parents and children to promote fundamental movement skills, activities to motivate young people to try and succeed with new physical challenges – and the plan is also to engage in healthy eating programmes.
“University course tutor Dylan Blain is excited about the prospects of delivering aspects of his sport-related course at such a facility.”
Julian Parker, Headteacher of Myrddin Primary School, supports the project.
He said: “The 3G football pitch will be highly beneficial for the pupils, both in both our mainstream and for children in our Special Unit. I hope the club will be successful in obtaining the pitch and eagerly await such a development. With the assistance of the University, it has the potential for an exciting project.”
Dr Mz Youth Club in Carmarthen has no outdoor facilities and will also be welcomed at Richmond Park.
Many other organisations will be allowed prioritised use of the combined resource of the club’s existing Community Centre and the new 3G facility.
Helen Davies, Headteacher of neighbouring Richmond Park Primary School, said: “Our school is looking forward to increased community involvement with Carmarthen Town Football Club when the new 3G pitch is installed.
“We look forward to events which will be family-based and should increase the well-being and the involvement of pupils, staff and families – something we are trying hard to embed at Richmond Park.
“Having a larger area to host regular events will not only improve our engagement with parents and carers but will also widen our opportunities to develop skills with our more able and talented pupils, both from engaging with professionals at the club and from the wider community.
“We already work closely with other primary schools in the area. The 3G pitch will provide us with a platform from which to work collaboratively to support our collective community.”
The benefits of the 3G pitch have also been recognised by other local groups and organisations who are supporting the scheme.
Town Councillor and Chairman of the Town’s two Family Centres Councillor Doug Rose is backing the plan.
He said: “I look forward to building on the partnerships and common links we have developed with the local community, football club and primary schools. The all-weather developments at the football club will enable new, ground breaking and exciting ways for us to benefit the lives of some of the people in our town who deserve support, help and opportunities to better their lives.”
The Carmarthen Town AFC project team hopes to form further partnerships with Carmarthenshire County Council and the Dyfed-Powys Police Commissioner regarding motivational programmes and school holiday activities.
Project Manager Mr Thomas said: “This is a very bold and innovative venture by Carmarthen Town Football Club. Our earnest hope is that everyone in the community sees the potential in the project and lends it their most vigorous support.
“The opportunities are endless and will be a significant boost to our community activities.”
Photos: Alan Fitzpatrick