The ribbon has been cut on new changing rooms at Willowbank park ahead of a return to training for the local football club. 

The new facilities form part of an £80,000 investment in the site by Belfast City Council in order to bring the pitch and associated amenities into the 21st Century, says local councillor Ciarán Beattie. 

"The facilities here at Willowbank have been serving this community for a long time now," said the Sinn Féin man. 

"People like George McCabe and Jim Cahill have given their whole lives to this community to try and bring young people into a better way of life. These facilities have been operating for a while but the changing pavilion was in a bad state of repair," he added.
"Through the lobbying of Jim and Geordie, we were able to secure £80,000 to replace the new changing pavilion. We hope this will to serve a new generation of kids coming through with better facilities and a better quality of life."

WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS: Fra McCann MLA says the new facilities will enhance the clubs ability to win trophies

WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS: Fra McCann MLA says the new facilities will enhance the clubs ability to win trophies

Local Sinn Féin MLA Fra McCann was on hand at the official opening — which was restricted in numbers due to Covid regulations. "There has been a huge change in the facilities here over the years and that is all down to the work of the Willowbank committee," he said. 

"They have a football team that is second to none and the advancement of the facilities not only enhances their ability to win trophies but it also gives them a place to call home."

Club Chairman George McCabe said the facilities were a boost to the team and to the community.

"Ten years ago, when we first got the plastic multi-sports pitch, we were over the moon. Now, with the help of Sinn Féin and Belfast City Council we have these new changing rooms which are absolutely fantastic.

"This is my first time seeing them and they are absolutely beautiful. They are a complete uplift for this area and it means that other clubs can now use the amenity also. Before we had no showers but this now means that players can get changed and go home freshened up. I am absolutely delighted."

Willowbank FC Committee member Jim Cahill paid tribute to local councillor Ciarán Beattie for lobbying for the new investment. 

 "These changing facilities bring the pitch into the 21st Century," he said. "It is fantastic to be able to officially open them and when we get back to using them when restrictions lift, it will be a great day for the entire community."