Indoor track among projects handed government support

A 60-METRE indoor athletics track could be built at FB Fields by next year, using a £580,000 grant handed to Jersey Spartan AC.

FB Fields athletic track. Changing rooms and seating area                                                             Picture: ROB CURRIE. (30649170)
FB Fields athletic track. Changing rooms and seating area Picture: ROB CURRIE. (30649170)

The first phase of the Government of Jersey’s Fiscal Stimulus Fund – a multi-million-pound package supporting projects which will stimulate the economy after the pandemic – was unveiled on Thursday and features successful bids from government departments, arm’s-length organisations and not-for-profit organisations.

JSAC, the Island’s sole track-and-field club, is among those to be offered a slice of the £22.8 million opening tranche – £7 million of which has been allocated to the development of sports facilities.

The demolition and rebuild of the satellite pavilion on the playing fields at FB is also included, while additional padel courts are due to be installed at St Clement’s Recreation Grounds following a grant to Island Padel worth over £420,000.

Island cricket will receive a boost through a £300,000 refurbishment of its facility at Grainville, while Jersey Race Club has been granted £37,000 to update and maintain its land and facilities. Elsewehere, Springfield and Oakfield are in line for immediate improvements totalling £5 million as they prepare to welcome clubs that are soon to be evicted from Fort Regent.

A spokesperson for JSAC said providing suitable indoor facilities in St Clement would not just benefit the club’s elite and grassroots athletes, as community access would also be on the cards.

‘Initially the plan was just to redevelop our clubhouse, but we haven’t got a big indoor space where coaches can take a whole group,’ the spokesperson said. ‘Because of the cost that would have been involved for those plans, we thought about what other space at FB we might be able to use to develop a better facility.

‘It will depend on planning permissions and covenants on the land but the plan is to have a 60m straight at the far end of the track, with space also for a long and triple jump pit and facilities for indoor throwing. What we want is to have a space where athletes can go which is not outside, where they can do technical training in the winter.

‘We have senior athletes targeting the Commonwealth Games and most big clubs have suitable indoor facilities for their members. I know we’re not that big but we’re a big club in Jersey and it would be great to create a facility for our athletes to do specialised indoor training and provide a space for the community as well. Local schools could use it, and it could perhaps be used for yoga classes as well.

‘We’re so grateful to the government for granting us the funds. This is huge for the athletes at the club and the local community and we are just so excited to be granted funds to develop a facility for future generations.

‘It’s not got to be a particularly fancy building. It will be a fairly basic structure but one of the biggest costs will be the surface, because we want to make sure the track is legal for races and also suitable for people in the community to use.’

Discussing potential timeframes, they added: ‘It will be tough to finish it this year because the planning process alone will take a while, but ideally we would like to have it up before we go through another wet and cold winter.

‘The first thing we want to do now is speak to the local residents and get them engaged with any concerns that they might have. That’s really important to us.

‘We haven’t got planning yet but we know the government is committed to helping us and hopefully it will all happen.’

Deputy Hugh Raymond, the political lead for sport in Jersey, said: ‘We only have one athletics track in the Island, so we have to look after it.’

A second tranche, including further sports grants, is due to be released in the coming weeks.

All phase-one grants must be put to use before 31 December 2021.

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