Stephen Barr has a vision for the future. A future for football and a future for Grangemouth.
The chief executive of Little Kerse Leisure Ltd has planning permission granted for a large expansion at the pitches on the Grangemouth-Polmont border, once a training ground for Falkirk FC and a recreational ground for local workers at the neighbouring BP refinery.
In recent years it has changed face as frequently as it has changed name, from Little Kerse, to LK Galaxy to Galaxy Sports Little Kerse, but always with growth.
The image above, taken on an average night, looks in itself futuristic, but it is just the start, and it’ll grow more if the boss has his way, and quickly.
Galaxy Sports now has full planning permission for a two-storey building and plans for a stand to be built ,as well as a three-quarter size indoor football facility.
“I call it my field of dreams,” says Mr Barr, originally from Camelon, when the Falkirk Herald visited recently. “It was a dream when I took it on when the BP was leaving. No-one believed in the vision when I said it, but I’m getting there. I like a challenge and I want to make a difference to my community. I think what we’re doing here is having that positive impact – but like all things, we can improve.”
Football can be the only release some of these kids and adults get so we offer the opportunity to play with as few obstacles as possibleStevie Barr
As the football pitches and facilities have grown so too have the children using the parks, a big part of what Barr considers his success.
“The goal is not solely to create players but a big part is to develop people,” he said.
“Little Kerse is home for many coaching companies, teams and weekly hires. We don’t want to employ a membership scheme. Football can be the only release some of these kids and adults get so it’s important that we offer the opportunity to play with as few obstacles in their way as possible.”
As philanthropic as that may seem, Barr has been in business with his other leisure facility in the town, at the Tone Zone gym, for 20 years and 11 at Little Kerse.
“That unit had five owners in five years – we’ve been there and established for 20 with the gym now.
“I’ve built it up, I’ve built Little Kerse up and proven credibility. I want it to be the best facilitiy out there for the community – for my community.
“There’s no secret, just hard work. That’s it.
“The BP then INEOS senior management team was very supportive, but we’ve got here through local relationships and great staff and we’ve seen it evolve, and we’ve seen the players and the clubs evolve too.
“I’d hope to have involvement from more partners in the next few years. There is a lot still to do.
“But when I look back the last 11 years have been a success however we still have lots to do and I hope to achieve more and see us grow more with our players, clubs and partners.”
The grounds are used for training by Camelon Juniors, Bo’ness United, Brechin City and Whitburn Juniors. East Stirlingshire used to use LK for training sessions before their move to the Falkirk Stadium and there were also ambitious ideas to have the Shire play competitive matches from the venue at some point in the future.
That specific club plan may have been shelved, but it isn’t be outwith the realms of possibility for a club in future with the new expansion.
New floodlights have been installed, with a 300lux brightness to ensure compliance with the Scottish Professional Football League standards, and a spectators’ rail has been installed on the full-sized park.
The two-storey building is moving forward and there’s been two additional pods added, with new synthetic surfaces, for five-a-sides and coaching.
Next up though, it’s a stand with changing facilities that will make the new full size pitch capable of hosting professional games for whichever team seizes the chance to use LK as a base.
And with Syngenta also eyeing a tilt at the Scottish football senior pyramid, a venue with the capabilities of Galaxy Sports Little Kerse is certain to be in high demand in the future. And just like the newly installed lights, that future looks bright, for the venue, for the clubs and the players and community who use it.