Lurgan Town FC (LTFC) has created footballing and recreational opportunities for residents of Lurgan and surrounding areas since 1988.
While they are one of countless football clubs that operate across Northern Ireland day in and day out, LTFC has proved itself a club worth noting. Precious few football organisations across the country not only operate in the face of significant local deprivation but have, in spite of that, managed to create programmes of the high calibre that LTFC consistently achieves. We’re incredibly proud of the effort LTFC has invested in not only its club and members but in its community as a whole.
The area LTFC serves experiences high levels of deprivation and hardship. Its immediate surroundings have been identified as a “Neighbourhood Renewal Area” (NISRA) and its catchment areas include the electoral ward of Court (ranked within the top 9% most deprived wards in Northern Ireland for multiple deprivation according to NISRA), Church (top 17% most deprived) and Drumgask (top 6% most deprived). Because of this, many of LTFC’s participants come from disadvantaged families with limited resources including disposable income and transportation options.
Because of the hardship many members of the local community face, LTFC cannot count on income generated by high membership fees or premium charges for programmes. However, during the course of the past 7 years they have found ways to remain resourceful and create opportunities that have resulted in significant community impact as well as a transformation of their club facility into one of the best in the country.
In 2012, LTFC secured funding from BIFFA to allow the instalment of a new set of home and away changing rooms. Work began in August 2014 for further upgrades, including a new clubhouse building and a new 9 a-side 3G synthetic pitch. The club was then able to complete this project with the help of funding secured through the Department of Social Development. Further improvements including upgrading and extending the car park area. Other funding opportunities made new flood lighting possible that further improved the training pitches. And their work hasn’t stopped there – LTFC is still in the process of securing further resources to better their facilities and increase their impact.
Today, LTFC’s facility is a completely different space. Phil McKinley, Secretary at LTFC, shared in a recent conversation how the funding they’ve secured has completely changed the experience of each and every member. Their new 3G pitch replaced an old, worn-out surface with a pitch that, McKinley pointed out, was now “enjoyable to play on.” The new 3G pitch is the same model as that used by high-profile professional clubs in England, giving every member the chance to play on a truly quality pitch.
McKinley also shared how new LED floodlights made possible through an Alpha grant has caused significant improvements. These new floodlights turn on instantly rather than having to wait for conventional bulbs to heat and are bright enough to allow for official matches to take place during evening hours. “We’re now able to host official matches,” said McKinley, something the club had not historically been able to accommodate.
The funding opportunities secured by LTFC have also enabled the club to facilitate taster sessions and football programmes in local schools. Particularly, they’ve been able to offer female football programming in schools to help involve members of the community that often don’t have as many sporting opportunities available as do their male counterparts.
The upgrades to their facility have also benefited external community groups and schools. The club has seen an increase from 1-2 schools using the grounds in a given week to 3-4, and more community youth groups have also been able to utilise the space over the past two years than ever before.
The Future for Lurgan Town FC
Lurgan Town FC has experienced tremendous enhancement in recent years and the club is excited to see what will come next. We applaud LTFC’s significant impact on their community, their visions for the future of the club and the diligent work they put in to bring those visions to life.