New community owned sports academy a chance to change lives

The public is being given the chance to improve the lives of young and old alike by investing in Northern Ireland’s first community run sports academy.
Ballymacash Sports Academy is creating a revolution in sporting circles by launching a community share offer to transform its Lisburn-based ground into a £1.5m facility that will serve all sections of the community.
The academy, a co-operative born out of Ballymacash Rangers Football Club, is seeking to raise between £50,000 and £200,000 with the share offer, supported by Co-operative Alternatives, an organisation dedicated to supporting co-operative and community led development.
Planning permission has been granted for the first phase of the plan for a state-of-the-art sports facility used by the whole community, including a new clubhouse, function room, gym, floodlit 7-a-side 3G artificial grass pitch, a 250 seat stand and a cryospa.
This is Northern Ireland’s first chance to follow in the footsteps of FC United of Manchester and Lewes FC in creating a sports organisation that is owned and run by its members.
This ambitious project will be part financed by the community share offer, which will enable the public to invest in the new academy, giving them a say in its direction.
Philip Trimble, one of the Sports Academy Directors said the aim was to provide high quality facilities for the whole community, with a focus on encouraging the young, the elderly and the economically disadvantaged to participate more in healthy activities.
He said: “Since forming in 1984 the football club has been at the heart of the local community. We have identified a need for better sporting and leisure facilities in the area to provide a greater sense of community and ensure that people are given access to a healthier and more fulfilling lifestyle.
We have significant community support for these plans so these are exciting times ahead for Ballymacash. The local community has always supported events at the club so there is already considerable buy-in for our vision of the future.”
“Our desire is to have a range of sports accessing the facilities and we are planning to set up a bursary scheme that will be accessible for talented young sport stars from a wide spectrum of sports.”
The share offer was launched with the help of the Building Change Trust’s Community Shares Ready! Programme run by Co-operative Alternatives, an organisation set up in Northern Ireland to promote and raise awareness of co-operatives and community benefit societies.
The Trust’s Director of Operations Nigel McKinney said “ despite our long history of producer and consumer cooperatives , the community owned cooperative enterprise model remains quite novel in Northern Ireland. But it’s a brilliant model for our times – local people owning a community enterprise that brings benefits to the wider community. I want to commend Ballymacash Rangers Football Club for their vision and Cooperative Alternatives for their support in bringing another community share offer forward”.
It is the first share offer in Northern Ireland to be awarded the Community Shares Standard Mark – recognition that it meets national standards of good practice, ensuring that the offer is easy to understand and is supported by a rigorous business plan.
Tiziana O’Hara of Co-operative Alternatives said that sports clubs and organisations in England and Wales have become highly successful co-operatives and believes the formula will work in Northern Ireland.
“Many people want a say in how leisure and sports facilities operating in their area are run for the benefit of everyone. Ballymacash has a proud history of working on community based projects and we would appeal for everyone who has an interest in a better future for all to become involved in the running of this incredible organisation.”
The five acre site is situated in the north of the city and the football club has two senior teams playing in the Intermediate League and the Clubmark Accredited youth academy has now established seven different age groups since its creation in November 2016.
Other partners include Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council, Ballymacash Regeneration Network, Work West Enterprise Agency, the IFA Small Sided Games, Parkview Special School and the Resurgam Trust.
For more information about the project visit Ballymacash Sports Academy website or its Facebook and Twitter pages.
Investors can buy as little as £50 and up to a maximum of £10,000 worth of shares to become part of this exciting community owned enterprise The community co-operative will be run on a one member one vote basis.
The closing date for share applications is July 19. To register interest contact