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Bonar Bridge Football Club urges local people to write letters of support to bolster funding applications for clubhouse renovation


By Caroline McMorran

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A FUNDRAISING drive towards the renovation of Bonar Bridge Football Club’s clubhouse has been launched following a resurgence of the game in the area in recent years.

Managers hope to raise more than £20,000 for a complete upgrade of the building which dates back more than 50 years and is located near the primary school.

Bonar Bridge Football Club juniors and committee members, from left, Gavin Ryder, Nene Maclean, Miller Mackay (first team captain) Kenny MacNab, and Doris Calder.
Bonar Bridge Football Club juniors and committee members, from left, Gavin Ryder, Nene Maclean, Miller Mackay (first team captain) Kenny MacNab, and Doris Calder.

Club treasurer Gavin Ryder said: “We’re a registered charity and have put out a call for letters of support from community members to present to potential funders.

“We’ve only been running with it for about a week and already have more than 60 letters. We are hoping to double that amount. It’s a big ask but the support we are receiving is fantastic.”

Football in the Kyle area had fallen into abeyance until around six years ago when some parents started informal training sessions for their children. This took off, and was put on a more formal footing with the formation of a committee.

Before Covid-19 struck, sessions were being run for three different age groups – primaries 1-4; p5-7 and teenagers. A community fitness session also took place weekly where anyone could turn up.

“None of it is ability or gender driven and it is open to all,” said Mr Ryder. “The vision is to have a holistic approach, a football platform for those of all ages from the Kyle of Sutherland and beyond.”

"Everyone has got the football bug and the community atmosphere it generates is brilliant."(Gavin Ryder)

Last year committee members decided to form an adult team and entered the Caledonian North League for the first time in nine years.

Mr Ryder continued: “It was really tough and we didn’t win any games – sometimes we were fielding a team of eight and pulling committee members on to the field just to make up numbers. It was a struggle but we stuck at it and got through it.

“This year we have a bit more lead time and have got two coaches managing the team so we are optimistic for the next season.”

He added: “Everyone has got the football bug and the community atmosphere it is generating is really brilliant – you could really feel it on the days we held kids’ tournaments.Everyone wants a bit more of it.”

The clubhouse, built in 1968, comprises a home and an away changing room, shower room, small kitchen, committee room and referees’ room.

However, its dilapidated state is a health and safety concern with the building badly in need of rewiring and work to meet fire regulations.

“The windows move in strong winds and the paint is peeling off the floors in every room. Everything pretty much needs replacing,” said Mr Ryder.

“We are just putting the work out to contract at the moment but it will cost tens of thousands of pounds.”

The committee had hoped to install replacement windows as a matter of urgency but discovered that a smaller amount of grant aid is difficult to obtain with funders currently prioritising projects related to the pandemic.

“We’re still not sure which funds we are going to be able to approach at this stageso this is still work in progress,” said Mr Ryder

Meanwhile committee members area appealing to anyone connected with the club or the area to help out by sending emails of support to bolster its funding applications.

Community members are being asked to write a short letter or email of support about how the club benefits themselves, their families or the community. Emails should be sent to: gzr123@yahoo.com while letters can be dropped into Bonar Bridge Post office.

“PLease, if you could spare five minutes to do this, it will significantly improve our chances,” said Mr Ryder.

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