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IFA sets sights on opening new football ‘hub’ in Tandragee to boost the beautiful game

It would be one of 12 to be set up across Northern Ireland

Tandragee 3G pitch

The Irish Football Association is hoping to establish a ‘hub’ in Tandragee in the hope of promoting the ‘beautiful game’ to a wider audience.

The IFA facility would be one of 12 to be set up across Northern Ireland.

And football’s governing body has approached Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council to help the project cross the line.

The council – at its leisure and community services committee on Monday evening – will be asked to give the IFA project its blessing for a Tandragee base.

The IFA has set its sights on a location within the council-owned Tandragee Recreation Centre.

It has been identified as a suitable location due to its central location within the ABC Council area.

According to a report to committee, the Irish FA initiative is part of its ‘Let Them Play’ Youth Strategy 2015–2025.

The report explains: “The aim of the hubs is to provide local communities with a more integrated approach to developing football.

“The hubs will be the focal point for clubs, coaches, parents/guardians and volunteers in the development of a football infrastructure within each council area.”

If it goes ahead, councillors have been told there is no cost involved to council but there is the benefit from the spin-off potential from the new facilities.

The report adds: “The centre has adequate desk space, internet access and storage space as requested by the Irish FA Foundation.

“All other usage such as indoor hall, meeting rooms, 3G/grass pitches will follow current council booking procedures and pricing.

“The fact that the hub is operating at Tandragee could potentially lead to greater business at the site.”

The objectives of the strategy are to increase youth participation rates to 75,000 by 2020 and 100,000 by 2025; to increase the percentage of schools where football and futsal is played to 90% by 2020 and increase participation by 100% by 2025.

It aims to “embed a culture of club and volunteer development throughout youth football” by 2020; create new Irish FA youth football coach education pathways; and create new player development pathways and Irish FA Club Licensing criteria for NIFL Premiership clubs’ youth development programmes.

The report adds: “The hubs will provide genuine community engagement, information, support and advice to make it easier for people to get involved and engage in a more active and healthier lifestyle via the delivery of programmes such as small-sided games, youth and senior leagues, Club Development and ‘Clubmark’, volunteer development including coach education, football camps, futsal development, referee development, sport uniting communities programme, social responsibility programmes, disability programmes, and mental health and wellbeing programmes.”

The committee will be asked to consider and approve the use of the centre by the IFA for this initiative.

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