Fight to secure pitches on Saturday and Sunday mornings

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YOUTH football clubs are demanding access to state-of-the-art astrograss pitches at weekends.

Sunday – and Saturday mornings – have become unwanted times of rest for youth clubs in East Dunbartonshire wishing to use the astrograss fields at the various ‘new-build’ schools in the area.

Coaches and parents claim the gates to pitches remain firmly padlocked shut when youngsters need them most.

Karen Graham, a coach at Lenzie Youth Club, has written to East Dunbartonshire Council leader Rhondda Geekie regarding the issue.

Karen said: “In 2007, when the schools and pitches opened, Rhondda Geekie said in the Herald that ‘the council is looking to find ways to help local football clubs’ and added the £8 million spent on new pitches was ‘an investment in the health of young people’.

“That was a very worthy mission statement and we certainly now have some excellent facilities in the area. The only problem is our young footballers can’t get on them!

“The school pitches are inexplicably closed on Sundays and often unavailable to hire on Saturday mornings – the times when local youth clubs play their matches.”

Council leader Rhondda Geekie said: “Officers are working hard to see if the contract for our PPP schools can be changed, at no extra cost, in order to incorporate Sunday openings in some of our high schools for the use of the astro pitches by community teams.

“At present, contrary to what has been written, three of our six PPP schools are already used on Saturday afternoons by community teams.

“It should also be noted that schools do not block book their astro pitches until 2pm each Saturday.

“All schools, apart from one, do not use their pitches beyond 11.30am on Saturdays. Schools also timeously inform the letting service if their games on Saturdays have been cancelled so that community teams can utilise the pitches if they so wish.

“It is hoped in the near future, if negotiations are successful, to be able to use some of the school pitches on Sundays if such openings would not disturb local residents.”