Sunderland football club hopes new pitches will help tackle antisocial behaviour

Sunderland RCA Youth Football Club are celebrating signing a lease for the use of new football pitches which they hope will help tackle antisocial behaviour in the area.

Tuesday, 28th September 2021, 11:34 am

Earlier this year King George V playing fields, in Ryhope, were left badly damaged by quad and motocross bikes carving up the grass along with reports of broken glass, dog waste and other antisocial behaviour.

However the council has now agreed to an initial one year lease for the land and have already installed goals and marked out two full size pitches. With fifteen junior teams providing sporting opportunities for more than 200 children, the club have already started using the facility for training and match days.

Club chairman Dave Ramshaw, 62, said: “Twenty years ago the playing field was used for pitches but the area has been unused all this time and become a hot-spot for antisocial behaviour.

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(Left to right) Ged Carolan, under 18s manager, Councillor Usman Ali and Dave Ramshaw, chairman of Sunderland RCA Youth Football Club, at the King George V playing fields. Picture by FRANK REID.

"It’s brilliant to sign this lease as it will be a further asset to us in providing facilities for our players to both train and play. There aren’t the same number of boys clubs there were thirty years ago and this is all about giving children the opportunity to play.

"Hopefully seeing the land now being used for football pitches for children will help the community to take more pride in the area.”

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The club now plan to take on the management of the playing fields, including conducting a survey with local residents about the installation of perimeter fencing.

Quad bike damage caused earlier this year on King George V Playing Fields in Ryhope.

Under 18s manager Ged Carolan, 54, said: “A big part of this is about eradicating antisocial behaviour by creating a community facility to bring families together through providing a place for youngsters to play.

"Covid brought youth football to a standstill and providing this sort of facility is more important than ever after the pandemic.”

The signing of the lease has been facilitated by Ryhope councillor, Usman Ali, 37, who’s determined to reduce antisocial behaviour in the ward.

Cllr Ali said: “There have been a lot of problems on the playing fields with the police being called out two or three times each month for antisocial behaviour.

"Just putting the goals up and marking out the pitches has already started to have an impact. A lot of the young people who play for the teams live in the area and hopefully this will help ensure it’s not used for quad biking as it now has a clear purpose.

"This is all about benefiting the local community and I’m really excited by this new development – I didn’t think we would achieve it so quickly.”

Ged added: “The experience Cllr Ali has brought to making this happen has been brilliant – we couldn’t have done it without his help. Our partnership with the Council continues to grow and this is another positive within our relationship.”

The club now hope to ensure the lease is extended beyond the current year year.

Commenting previously on antisocial behaviour on the playing fields, Leader of Sunderland City Council, Graeme Miller, said: “It’s sad to see that a small minority are continuing to cause issues by riding quad bikes and motocross bikes.

"This type of behaviour is not only distressing for communities and can be dangerous but is also causing damage to our open green spaces.”

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