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Winners in the war on crime

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Henry McClelland first passed through the turnstiles of his beloved Galabank in 1977 when Annan Athletic’s ground boasted little more than patchy grass and rusted goalposts. Today McClelland stands proud as club chairman and last summer he oversaw a £600,000 facelift to this modest little ground, tucked away in a corner of rural south-west Scotland. In addition to the implementation of an all-weather third generation (3G) pitch last summer, the Scottish Third Division outfit constructed a large terracing area and refurbished various parts of the 2,500-capacity Galabank facility. This was largely aided by the Scottish government’s Cashback for Communities scheme, which invests money generated from the ill-gotten gains of crime into grassroots projects. Since joining the Scottish Football League (SFL) in 2008, Annan identified the implementation of a synthetic football pitch as a practical and lucrative development but it remained a distant dream until an unprecedented funding opportunity reared its head. “We travelled across Scotland to visit other clubs and it opened our eyes to the possibilities and opportunities for both the club and community with a 3G pitch,” McClelland says. “The benefits from having such a top-quality facility in any town are massive but it’s not something you can pull together overnight.” The aspiration developed when the Scottish Football Association (SFA) started to press on with recommendations made by the former First Minister of Scotland, Henry McLeish, in a report into developing the once beautiful game. The construction of Dumfries and Galloway’s first synthetic pitches was a key sticking point, and the Galabank club was waiting at the front of the queue to capitalise. In total, £1.75m was pledged to allow for the creation of three pitches across the region, with the Scottish government paying £600,000 and Sportscotland covering £400,000 on top of the local authority’s £750,000 investment. Completed in time for the start of this season, the turf is now utilised by 13 local primary schools and one secondary school free of charge during the day, and rented to various community clubs and the public during evening and weekends. McClelland adds: “We have a social responsibility as a community-driven club. Twelve per cent of the local population is visiting Galabank every week. The biggest single factor in the project is the overall benefit to youngsters in our community. The contact time our youngsters will have on the ball has been doubled and it has opened up fantastic opportunities to hundreds of young local people. That’s the big picture here. Everyone’s a winner.” The Scottish government, through the Cashback for Communities scheme, plans to invest more than £46m in a wide range of projects across the country before the end of next year. Of the 20 national organisations now receiving funding through Cashback to provide opportunities for young people, eight of these are sporting bodies. More than £8m of money

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synthetic grass, turf, artificial grass, football, football surfaces, football pitches, synthetic pitches
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What does '3G pitch' mean?

The artificial turf named '3G' (Third Generation) is a surface created using synthetic fibres and rubbers, made to look like grass. Unlike previous artificial surfaces, the pitch does not contain sand, therefore it is much less likely to cause friction burns to the skin. The main reason for its use is maintenance—artificial turf stands up to heavy use, particularly in sports, and requires no irrigation or trimming.

How much to build a 3g football pitch?

The 3G surfaces have evolved to mimic the playing characteristics of a natural field but can be used endlessly in all weather conditions. The third generation surfaces is what all the premier league teams train on and to build a full size football pitch with fencing, floodlighting, drainage, groundworks and surfacing costs approximately 600k. This price is based on the site being good access and existing level conditions to the site.