The County You Live, Work And Play
Fears Over Future
Fears have been raised that a popular schools’ football league may be forced to fold if they don’t receive financial help.
Sandra Cushnie has been running Hamilton and District Primary Schools’ Football Association for several years, with one of the cups dating back to the Second World War, but charges introduced by South Lanarkshire Leisure for pitches that were previously used free of charge have pushed them towards the edge.
Sandra, from Kirkfieldbank, is at pains to explain that she doesn’t blame South Lanarkshire Council at all, but says if somebody doesn’t step in the league may be forced to fold, as they face charges of almost £1000 a year.
She said: “South Lanarkshire Council has had to introduce charges for pitches that have always been available to use free of charge.
“This is understandable as finances are a problem everywhere, but the future of primary schools’ football is now under threat.
“Although primary schools now play seven-a-sides, Hamilton and District Primary Schools’ Association (HDPSFA) has continued to organise a programme of football throughout the year, which is well attended by local schools.
“Primary schools’ football has been popular for many years in the area, it has been going for around 70 years, and there are almost 20 schools participating in this year’s programme.
“There will be many people in Hamilton and surrounding areas who remember the pride they felt when they played for the school’s team.
“There were many exciting cup finals played at local junior grounds, with hundreds of spectators.”
Sandra says the league simply cannot afford to pay for the pitch hire, and concerns have been raised.
She added: “The Association needs almost £1000 per annum to pay for the pitches and enable it to continue to provide a programme of football for the children.
“We don’t have the money to pay for them. Everyone is really concerned in case this spells the end of school football after so many years. It’s a shame that because we have no money the football ceases to exist, so hopefully somebody can step in. If there are any businesses or individuals who might be able to help we would be so grateful to hear from them.”
Gerry Campbell, general manager of South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture, said: “We have known Sandra very well for many years now and have seen at first hand the tremendous and dedicated work she does in organising this football league for primary schools.
“We have already spoken to her to suggest ways in which the league’s costs could be reduced and we are always happy to use our own knowledge and experience to help her with any advice that may help her in the future.”
Anybody who is willing to help Sandra should call her on 07807 817134.