Pitch Blythefield 3G – how the village community turned unused MUGA into a community asset
An unused MUGA in South Belfast has been turned into a dynamic 3G pitch.
Opened this year, the Blythefield site has grown from something that was “used and abused” to a functional community asset.
A few months later, Angela Johnston of the Greater Village Regeneration Trust (GVRT) told Belfast Live that the move had paid off.
She explained: “It was a MUGA surface which was managed by Belfast City Council.
“In winter it would have frozen over, it was like an ice rink. It was used as a dog toilet, it was basically used and abused.
“It wasn’t used for what we wanted it to be.”
The idea of a 3G pitch was brought up because of the large number of football teams in the Village and Sandy Row areas – and because it had the potential to be used for other sports like the ‘Athletics.
Angela said: “Everyone was okay with that.
“GVRT had the financial capacity to accept it and we received a massive funding injection from Sport NI.
“It was a long process to get the money and meet the expectations of Sport NI and our community.
“And it’s not just the village, it was the larger southwest partnership, which is basically Sandy Row down to the village and across to Boucher – so it’s a big area.”
Access to the grounds is from Bentham Drive and includes private parking and a pavilion with changing rooms.
It was completed in March of this year.
Angela said: “Everyone who sees it is in awe of it. It looks phenomenal compared to what it looked like before.
“We tried to finish it as quickly as possible because a lot of the local teams needed to train.
“You had Sandy Row FC, Kelvin Old Boys and Kelvin Youth – all local teams struggling to find places to train that were accessible, that were close to home. So it has become very convenient for them.
“Schools, youth clubs and community groups have free use upon request.
“The reason we need it to be on demand is because we have a reservation system, so there will be people who will book and pay for the facility. We have to move people around this.
“The land has to be tended, it has to be cleaned, insurance has to be paid for – all of those things you might not think about.
“We want it to be there for the long haul and for everyone to use it and we want it to be a case where it pays off.
“There’s a lot going on with that and it’s getting stronger and stronger.”
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