As all members are aware, the club continually struggles for pitch space on Sundays when many of the Mini-Junior teams are scheduled to play at home. There is no option to purchase additional land adjacent to the club, therefore some teams have for many years had to play ‘offsite’ or away from Cooke Fields (primarily at either KE School or DMS Whittington) on certain weekends.
At short notice, over the summer, the club was given an option to use Darnford Park, which is immediately attractive due to its proximity to Cooke Fields. Darnford is also a more flexible and cost-effective space for the club than either KES or DMS Whittington. The club would be remiss not to explore the options it provides and is therefore trialling its viability over the coming weeks. We seek members support during this period.
Due to their pitch size and configuration requirements Darnford is better suited to the U9-U12 age groups. For those involved with these age groups, rest assured it is not a season long move away from the club. Darnford will only be used when sufficient space is unavailable at the club. Lichfield RUFC will always strive to ensure as many teams as possible are at the club each week.
From the limited experience to date, the club has already understood the following areas of concern:
Access: Parking is at a premium at Darnford. There is a small car park and some on street parking is available but please consider parking at the club and either walking or car-sharing up to Darnford. Also please ensure the access gate is left clear at all times in case emergency vehicles ever need to use it (the Club/Coaches do have keys).
Dogs: Dog mess is a risk at many venues the children play and pitch inspections should happen wherever, regardless. The club does understand that it is a public park where dogs are more prevalent, so until the public are more aware of the clubs use of the park, extra vigilance is needed by all. The club intends to give age groups playing at Darnford, rope and possibly net barriers to deny loose dogs access to the playing area. Signage will be placed at the park on match/training days to make owners aware that the park is being used for junior sport. Due to the usage agreement, permanent barriers and signage are not possible.
Facilities: Toilet and refreshment facilities are in the progress of being organised and will be available soon. The fact we can do this is an advantage over KES and DMS Whittington, where these facilities are either limited or not even possible.
As a club we want as many children as possible playing each week and this can only be achieved with some level of off-site play and any off-site venue has its own pros and cons. We ask members to be patient whilst we evaluate Darnford and would appreciate any feedback throughout the process. We reiterate that Darnford will only be used as and when necessary.
More age groups will use the pitches at Darnford Park over the next few weeks. Please consider their suitability (particularly in relation to those at KES & DMS) and then provide any feedback via your age group coaches or managers.
The club understands that our use of Darnford Park could have been better communicated and we hope this letter goes some way to address that. It is our intention to keep members informed of the progress more regularly over the coming weeks and we expect to be able to make a final decision before the end of October.
Yours sincerely, on behalf of Lichfield RUFC