Derelict old tennis courts are to be transformed into a state-of-the-art floodlit all-weather sports and leisure area thanks to cash seized from criminals.
The junior footballers in Rhostyllen, near Wrexham, will soon be able to train on the new MUGA – multi-use games area – instead of spending £200 a month to pay for 45-minute sessions at a nearby leisure centre.
The £2,500 grant that kick-started the ambitious £80,000 scheme for the village’s junior footballers came from the Your Community, Your Choice fund administered by North Wales Police Commissioner Andy Dunbobbin.
The initiative, also supported by the North Wales Police and Community Trust (PACT) and North Wales Police, is in its eighth year and much of over £370,000 handed out to deserving causes in that time has been recovered through the Proceeds of Crime Act, using cash seized from offenders with the rest coming from the Commissioner.
Andy Dunbobbin said: “These are exciting times here at Rhostyllen where they are doing so much good work, especially for the young people of the village.
“It is really important for communities to provide facilities like these which can help divert youngsters away from potential criminality and instead provide them with excellent facilities for positive activities here in Rhostyllen.
“They couldn’t have picked a better time with the Olympics and the European football championships being held this summer and I know there’s a long-term vision from the Football Association of Wales to develop home-grown talent.
“These days bode well for the area with exciting times ahead for Wrexham Football Club and with smaller clubs like Rhostyllen striving to improve their facilities and it’s great credit to all the volunteers here for their efforts that this is happening.”
Work on transforming the old tennis courts in the village will start in September and should be completed in eight weeks.
According to David Jones, a coach to the Under-16s, who has been the driving force behind the improvement plan, it will make a huge difference to the community.
The Your Community, Your Choice grants are allocated according to a public vote and Rhostyllen, a village of fewer than 2,000 people finished in the top three in Wrexham County to earn their money.
It has since helped them leverage further grant aid but it has still meant that club members have had to raise £20,000 by their own efforts to make their vision a reality.
David Jones said: “We have had all kinds of fund-raising efforts to raise the money and we’ve done it in a very short space of time.
“At present we have to pay £45 a week for a 45-minute training session at a local leisure centre for each of our three age group sides in the Wrexham Junior League for the use of their all-weather floodlit facilities and then pay for the use of a pitch for matches at weekends.
“It has meant that it was costing each of our junior players £200 a season but now we will have our own facilities which can also become a revenue stream for the club as we will be able to rent it out.
“It’s part of exciting plans we have for football in the village with the next stage to build a clubhouse at the Rhostyllen FC first team pitch which can also link with the facilities at the MUGA.”
PACT Project Manager Dave Evans added: “Your Community, Your Choice, run in conjunction with the Police and Crime Commissioner and North Wales Police, asks the public to vote for the good causes to be funded.
“This year we had the largest pot of funding ever at £60,000 and a record number of votes cast, 32,000 across North Wales, including for Rhostyllen junior footballers, and that underlines the level of positive community engagement PACT is achieving.”
For more information on the work of the North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner go to https://www.northwales-pcc.gov.uk/en/home.aspx