Phase one of the Shamrock Rovers Academy at the Roadstone sports facility in Kingswood was officially opened on Saturday by Dr Katherine Zappone, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs and John Delaney, CEO Football Association of Ireland.
The centrepiece of Phase One is the floodlit FIFA Pro Astro pitch and the opening of the facility marks the completion of the initial phase in the development for the Academy and youth development centre which includes significant upgrades to pitches and the floodlight infrastructure.
The club plan to soon move on to Phase Two and is currently working on finalising the financial arrangements for same.
This is the first professional Academy of its kind in the country and is the development base for all Shamrock Rovers teams from U8s to the senior team.
It will cater to up 250 children and young people training at elite level each week and will also serve as the training base for the Shamrock Rovers first team.
Rovers will also host community groups and football camps at the venue all across the year.
Speaking at the opening ceremony Dr Katherine Zappone, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs said:
“Today we celebrate a great partnership between the Roadstone Group Sports Club, Shamrock Rovers, the FAI and Government Departments.
“Together we are helping young people discover the passion, energy and excitement at the heart of football.
“Through academies, street leagues and night leagues football is stopping young people getting into trouble. I congratulate all who have made this project a reality.”
John Delaney, CEO Football Association of Ireland said:
“The opening of the FIFA Pro All Weather pitch marks a significant milestone for the Shamrock Rovers Academy.
“Phase One of the project is a major first step in the club’s pathway of excellence from under 8s right through to the club’s first team, following in the principles of the FAI’s Player Development Pathway.
“This development demonstrates the work that is being done as a collective at Shamrock Rovers, between the Club, Roadstone, South Dublin County Council and the Football Association of Ireland.”
Shane Robinson, Shamrock Rovers Academy Director said:
“The opening of the new FIFA Pro Astro is a huge boost to everyone connected to the club.
“The Roadstone Group Sports Club have been extremely supportive in this development.
“It is only eight years ago that we played our first game nearby this site in Tallaght Stadium.
“The opening of this pitch is another significant milestone for the club as it provides the platform to embed the club in the local community.
“It will give kids from the area a chance to fulfil their dreams of one day being a professional footballer.
“At present we have children as young as 8 years of age training three times a week at the same venue as our First Team. One day we hope to produce full International players from our Academy and this day marks a huge step forward in this process.“
Rovers and Roadstone Sports and Social Club have worked in partnership on plans to develop the Kingswood facility into Ireland’s leading football academy to be used by players of all youth levels. The development is being funded in part through a Sports Capital Grant of €150,000.
The project has been strongly supported by the FAI, Roadstone and State departments.
The Hoops have been tenants of Roadstone’s Sports and Social club at Kingswood for the past 3 years.