new GoFundMe fundraising scheme has been set up to help Ardee Rugby Club improve the facilities at their Townspark home, described as “decrepit” and “dire” by the club’s senior men’s vice captain Will Matthews.
The club, founded in 1980, has grown exponentially in recent years. Growing youths and minis sections, as well as an expanded number of girls teams means the Townspark grounds where the club have been situated since their foundation is now struggling to facilitate the numbers of senior and juvenile players it caters for.
Matthews is the man behind an ambitious fundraising drive for the club, something he hopes will mean the club will be in a stronger position going forward in terms of making applications towards funding such as the Sport Capital Grants – an avenue in which other local clubs have been granted big money to make major investments in recent years.
“It seems like nothings happening with funding in the last few years,” Matthews told LouthNow.ie. “You only have to look around at the other clubs in the town – St Marys, Ardee Celtic, you can see other clubs have benefitted form big grants. The more you have in the bank, the more funding you can apply for. Hopefully, it will take off a little more now.”
As it stands, the GoFundMe fundraiser has amassed €1,822 from 28 donors – with lots of support from club members and long time supporters. But Matthews hopes that more people from around Ardee can contribute, including parents of the ever-expanding number of juvenile players participating in the sport.
“There’s not many people in the town that can say over the years that they haven’t played with the club. With the young coming through, there’s going to be a lot more,” he said.
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“If you go down there on a Thursday when the juveniles are training, that place is choc-a-bloc. You can’t get parked anywhere, even up the road as far as the bottle banks across from Ferdia Park.
“There’s that much youth coming through and they don’t have the facilities to cater for all that. Even the underage girls, they don’t have their own designated changing rooms. For the size of the club and as long as they’ve been around, it should be at a higher standard.
Matthews believes that Ardee Rugby Club that as the popularity of the sport continues to grow among youngsters and girls especially, the club will struggle if facilities are not improved upon in some meaningful way.
“The way things are down there, it’s that decrepit, you can’t even see it being safe in the next couple of years if it keeps going the way it’s going. There’s more of a strain on the facilities down there. They’ve started a Minis now from three up – so there’s 8s, 9s, 10s and straight to seniors,” Matthews tells us.
Of late, the senior team have been played all of their matches away from home – at Dundalk RFC’s Mill Road and The Grange in Kells, something he calls “a disaster.”
“We have only the one pitch. There was money put into that pitch but with rugby, it’s going to get chewed up a little bit more so than football and Gaelic. We had to re-drain that pitch before the start of the season. We haven’t played on that pitch all summer and we won’t be able to until after the summer. Our home games have been played in different games all over the place.
“The pitch is like a swamp and then not to have the facilities to then go and have a wash – it’s dire enough.”
Matthews says he hopes as many people as possible get behind his bid to raise money so as the club can start to do some work to make prospect of visiting the ground a more enjoyable one for all involved – from the three-year-olds to the grizzly senior players and everyone in between, players and supporters.
“The popularity of the sport has come up a lot in the last 10 years and there’s a big demand for it in the town. Anything at this stage would be beneficial. The building itself is where it will be spent. The pitch was invested in already so that should be good to go next season. The clubroom itself is a portakabin. The place speaks for itself.”
You can check out the GoFundMe by clicking here.