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More 3G facilities for football and rugby

To help meet the demand for more all-weather football and rugby facilities across Wales, around £1m is being invested by Sport Wales to create 12 small-size 3G pitches in place of old tennis courts and Astro Turf pitches that have seen better days.

Although the resurfaced facilities won't be big enough to cater for full-size pitches, they will be ideally suited for training sessions and smaller-sided children's matches.

The funding - part of a £5m 'Place For Sport' allocation from Welsh Government in 2019 to improve sports facilities - is being shared among a dozen projects in cities, towns and villages including Newport, Mold, Caernarfon, Pontyberem, Kinmel Bay, Monmouth and Rhayader.

To help decide where the funding would be best spent, Sport Wales teamed up with the Football Association of Wales, Hockey Wales and Welsh Rugby Union last summer to notify clubs and local authorities of the available money.

A long list of potential projects was drawn up, before the applicants were whittled down to 12 projects which all have the potential to be completed by March 2020.

The funding can account for a significant proportion of each project's cost, with the applicants needing to provide the difference.

Among the clubs awarded funding is the Newport-based football club Albion Rovers AFC. They will receive £60,000 which will mean they can turn disused tennis courts into a small 3G surface for football. Chairman Terry Wilkins said: "This new surface will be a lifeline for the club. Our home pitch is in a terrible condition, which has meant that the youth section boys and girls haven't been able to train there for over a year. The 3G pitch will enable our kids to train and play games in most conditions, and we're also hoping that it will be well used by the wider community too, such as the local nursery and school."

Brian Davies, Chief Executive of Sport Wales, said: "The particularly wet autumn that we have just endured has once again highlighted the need for more artificial pitches in Wales so that more people can enjoy their sport without the frustration of training sessions and fixtures being cancelled due to the weather.

"We are continuing to work closely with the FAW, the WRU and Hockey Wales to deliver the right artificial pitches in the right parts of Wales, and are thrilled that this funding has been made available by Welsh Government to improve facilities. But there is still a huge demand for more 3G pitches, so we will continue to work with Welsh Government on ways to improve sports facilities across Wales."

Given the fact that you can play on them in all weathers, their relative low maintenance, and the all-round quality of the surface, it's easy to see why 3G pitches are so popular. They are perfect for football obviously, and as long as they have a shock pad installed below the surface then they are ideal for rugby too.

However, the preference for hockey is the traditional AstroTurf surface which allows the ball to move faster. In full, there are a dozen recipients sharing the £1m funding: Pontyberem Community Council (£148,706), Mold Rugby Football Club (£162,516), Albion Rovers AFC (£60,000), Monmouthshire County Council (£46,640), Ynys Mon County Council (£72,000), Kimmel Bay and Towyn Sports and Recreation Association (£69,360), Caerphilly County Borough Council (£110,000), Aura Leisure and Libraries in Deeside (£131,253), Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council (£200,000), Caersws Junior Football Club (£54,000), and Waun-Capel Recreation Ground in Rhayader (£46,476). The final recipient, Caernarfon and District Rugby Union Football Club, will be using their £199,180 funding to transform a grass training area into a 3G surface.

Each applicant had to meet certain criteria in order to receive their funding, with one requirement being the fact that the projects must be completed by the end of March 2020. Some of the projects are well underway, while others are in the early stages.

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