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Cumnock player pathway brings community together

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With four Scottish Junior Cup finals and two wins, in addition to 12 seasons in the West Region Super League Premier Division, The Nock are a household name in semi-pro football.
 
Cumnock has also in recent years had youth teams to be proud of. Only a few years ago, their under 16 side were lifting a trophy at Dam Park in Ayr after beating Bellfield Royals 4-1. 
 
Yet, there had never been a concrete connection between any of the youth set-ups and the junior side.
 
It didn’t take long for the local community to realise that and a couple of years ago a group of loyal supporters of the junior side noticed the lack of link between the boys club and adult game.
 
This group took it upon themselves to look into the youth sides in the area and see how they could fill the gaps.
 
With those simple thoughts, the Cumnock Juniors Community Enterprise project began to bubble into life.
 
And with typical Ayrshire spirit, determination and ingenuity added to the pot – the project has blossomed into a thriving community venture.
 
The club went about achieving Scottish FA Quality Mark status by following the organisation’s pathway. They have also gained recognition as a disability inclusive club, thanks to the two coaches they have on hand who are appropriately qualified to train the ‘Cumnock Megastars’.
 
“It benefits them and it benefits us” said secretary Eric Bennett. Mr Bennett also added that the project intends to keep working “hand in glove with the Scottish FA” in order to reach its goals.
 
Cumnock Juniors now has three official youth teams at Under 13s, 14s and 19s. Moreover there are now over 50 girls playing under the same umbrella and now registered with Scottish Women’s Football, thanks to quick-thinking in getting the girls’ team sorted out, so Mr Bennett put it.
 
In the process the club has become a registered Scottish charity to aid with funding to ensure the project can go from strength to strength. They have received money from the Scottish Government to help and a £50,000 grant from the Cumnock and Doon Valley Minerals Trust.
 
The club have appointed volunteer Scott Guy to take control of the continuing developments. Bennett said it was his job to steer the club to reaching their six-month target of having all 16 coaches attain the correct coaching qualifications as well as keeping team numbers increasing.
 
The group is in the midst of trying to install a new 3G playing surface to allow for all-weather and year-round use. The club are working in collaboration with Cumnock RFC (Rugby Football Club) to secure the new pitch, further increasing participation in sport as a whole.
 
Bennett stated: “Within a year we hope to have programmes running efficiently on our new 3G facility.”
 
With the implementation of a year-round playing surface for boys, girls and adults of abilities to use – for football and for rugby – the Cumnock Community Enterprise team will leave a legacy for generations to come.
 
Bennett said that “Community, sport and fitness are three words that sum up our aims. These emphasise our commitment to community wellbeing, through improving sporting opportunities and fitness for all.”
 
Newly appointed Scottish FA South West Club Development Manager, David Sheldon, said: ''We are delighted with the progress being made by Cumnock Juniors Community Enterprise and I look forward to working with the club to continue moving forward.”

Ryan Rowe | YFS South West Region Journalist & Bonnyton Thistle Reporter
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