Major plans are afoot at Dundee East Community Sports Hub as they aim to build on the “fantastic” work already done at Whitton Park.
The hub sees Broughty Athletic junior club, Broughty United amateurs as well as United and Ferry Athletic juveniles and Dundee East Girls come together under the Dundee East name.
And chairman Gordon Deuchars says seeing more than 1,000 kids already playing football each week on the new full-size astroturf only increases his determination to push on with plans to improve facilities even further from where they started in 2007, starting with a new stand at Whitton Park going up in the coming weeks.
He told the Tele: “It was a very ambitious plan. Initially we were talking about £2.5 million to get everything up and running but we’ve managed to do it on a shoestring budget and do things in stages.
“The first stage was the 60x40m astroturf to give clubs the opportunity to play and get affiliated with Dundee East. That grew very quickly and then we moved onto a full-sized pitch.
“We want a full stadium as well with changing facilities, physio and boot rooms, and add on some post-match hospitality or event space.
“The idea was to get the pitch up and running first and use the revenue from that to move to the next stage.
“Over the next few years we are hoping to continue expanding the ground by investing, hopefully, in a proper pavilion.
“We have a stand going up in the next two or three weeks and we will, hopefully, have the old Douglas Lads building next to the ground brought up to standard.”
He added: “The hub is for the whole community.
“When I was younger I used to play football where the skate factory is now in Douglas and that’s not there anymore.
“There are less and less places for kids to play football and we want to keep them off the streets, teach them people skills and give a good, safe environment to play sport.
“That’s exactly what it’s done.
“Since the full-size park has been finished, along with the 60×40 astro, over 1000 kids are playing every single week. That’s fantastic.
“From my point of view, driving home every evening and seeing the lights on and kids playing football gives a huge sense of satisfaction.
“The good thing is the money that has been put in here will be here for a long, long time – everything generated goes straight back into it.
“I’m very passionate and seeing things come through as part of the committee is fantastic.
“We have a long, long way to go but the hope is we have the pathway from four-years-old right through to the adults. Hopefully, in time we see kids coming through the juveniles into the amateurs, maybe to the juniors, and possibly to the seniors.”
Deuchars, whose background is in engineering, will be known to Dundee United fans for his former company GA Engineering for their sponsorship of Gussie Park and the help he has given the club over the years.
He added: “I have put money into Dundee United but I like to focus on grassroots. If I put £1 million into United, it would be there for one season but I do that into a community club it is there for a lifetime and is life-changing for a lot of kids who want to play football.”
It’s not been all plain sailing, however. He added: “There have a few teething issues but they have all been addressed. We’ve spoken to local residents as well as MSPs and councillors to resolve the issues.”