Cork club pitches up for €550k project

A Cork soccer club is poised to have one of the most advanced all-weather pitches in the country — thanks to an Irish company which built pitches for the World Cup in Russia.

Work has started at Lakewood Athletic’s grounds in Ballincollig on the construction of a Fifa-accredited, full-size, all-weather, flood-lit pitch in the hopes of it hosting its first game in August.

SIS, which designed, built, or installed its specialised SIS Grass surface at six of the 12 World Cup stadiums in Russia, hopes to install its SIS Hybrid surface at the Lakewood facility within weeks.

The €550,000 development is the most ambitious project in Lakewood’s almost 40-year history.

Club spokesman Brendan Lenihan said they are excited about the prospect of having such a state-of-the-art facility.

“This will be the best artificial grass surface pitch in Cork with the most advanced LED floodlighting” he said. “As well as allowing the club accept new members, the new pitch will provide significant benefits for the wider community and will be a fantastic addition to a multi-sport campus.

It will deliver public health benefits by increasing participation in soccer and sport, by providing football-for-all opportunities, and it will be available to local groups to rent. But crucially for us, it will mean that Lakewood Athletic will be open for new members of all ages.

The development of a full-size, all-weather pitch has been a long-term goal of Lakewood Athletic FC.

Founded in 1981, and based at the 14-acre John A Wood sport campus west of Ballincollig, the club has three grass pitches and a small all-weather training pitch. From 30 players in 1996 to around 500 today, the club fields 26-teams in various competitions and hosts 13 home games every weekend on its grass pitches.

It has produced 16 schoolgirls and four schoolboys who have been capped for Ireland, its players have captained the national team in full internationals, and more than 120 Lakewood players have represented Cork and Munster.

However, the club has capacity issues and had to turn potential members away in the last two years.

Mr Lenihan said the club had tremendous financial support from the Government’s Sports Capital Fund, the FAI, and some pioneering members in the club who have signed up to a Patrons and Friends scheme. It also has the support of Clann Credo, a social finance fund that helps clubs update facilities by providing debt finance.

- The club must now raise 25% of the cost through donations, sponsorship, advertising, and rentals. Anyone interested can contact the club on lakewoodafc.ie.


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