SPORTS FACILITIES: Bridgend improvements backed by Rhys Webb
A Welsh rugby star from Bridgend is supporting plans for local teams and the council to join together to revamp sports facilities.
Ospreys scrum-half Rhys Webb is backing plans for Bridgend Council, Bridgend Athletic RFC and Bridgend Sports RFC to maintain and improve changing and playing facilites at Newbridge Fields, Bridgend.
Mr Webb, who was born in Bridgend and used to play for Bridgend Athletic RFC, said the club has been “a huge part” of his life.
The two clubs and the local council are considering setting up a partnership to maintain the pavilions at Newbridge Fields.
The council has already completed work on the New Pavilion and Bandstand Pavilion. New wall cladding and shower rooms were installed at the New Pavilion and the exterior was decorated while a new roof was installed on the Bandstand Pavilion.
Janine Nightingale, the council’s director of communities, said the local authority has a long-term plan to provide “all-new sports facilities” at Newbridge Fields.
The council is working with other clubs to maintain facilities “that may otherwise become lost” due to “increasing budget pressures”, she added.
Mr Webb’s sons started playing rugby at Bridgend Athletic and he is also one of the mini and junior coaches.
“The club is a huge part of so many young people’s lives and I hope that this will continue to be so for a long time yet,” he said.
“Although the team has a club house, the changing rooms at our home ground has always been the place we meet and get ready together to go out onto the field as a team.
“To see them in such a state of disrepair is disheartening, especially when I know my sons will not get the use out of the changing rooms as so many of us have over the years, nor will they get the benefit of a place to shelter from the typical Welsh rugby weather – cold, wind and rain.
“New changing rooms would mean so much to all club members, young and old, and would give Bridgend Athletic players a huge sense of pride when playing at our home ground.”
Mr Webb said he is “pleased” the council has worked with Bridgend Athletic to improve facilities and made long-term plans to bring “high-standard changing and playing facilities” to the area.
“This will give teams the opportunity to compete on a level playing field with other teams in Wales.”
Bridgend Athletic RFC Chairman Stuart Morris said the club “looks forward” to continuing to work with the council.
“We are particularly encouraged that the council shares our vision for potential all-new sports facilities at Newbridge Fields, encompassing both gender and disability.”
A spokesman for Bridgend Sports RFC said: “The Bandstand pitch is synonymous with rugby football in Bridgend County Borough.
“There’s been minimal investment in the Bandstand changing rooms dating back several years. This opportunity, although itself limited, allows for any expenditure to go a little further with utilisation of the combined skill sets of those associated with the club and technical assistance from the council.
“We have over 300 young people playing for the club at all levels, and are host club for girls’ rugby across the county borough. Our ambition is to have modern community facilities fit for the 21 st century to support the development of young people, both on and off the field of play.”
Words: Hannah Neary, Local Democracy Reporter
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