Improving Community Cohesion Through Sport

Situated in a small village in Co Antrim, Northern Ireland, Crumlin United is not a club that springs to mind when compared to those in the higher levels of football across the UK.

Yet look a bit closer at this small amateur league club and you will see an innovative community club that we all can learn from. 

The current facility at Crumlin consists of a full size pitch, 3G pitch and a two tier club house all owned by the club.

Over the last 4 years the club has been embarking on being positioned as a community club. Part of this project involves an ambitious hub called ‘The Pakenham Complex’ – the construction  of a community hub/250 seater facility which aims to make a huge impact and difference in the local area. (It is named after the Pakenham family who established Crumlin).

“The project started when we created a new strategic plan for the club 4 years ago together with a visit to a local GAA club to see their £2.5million community hub facility. This gave us the drive and energy to embark on our own strategic plan and community first philosophy.” Said Geoff Wilson, Crumlin United FC

As part of the startegic plan, the club wanted to be deeply engrained into their local community, using football for a wide range of social and community benefit.

So what did the club do?

1. Research- research was conducted with the local community. This research identified a number of issues (growing problem of anti social behaviour etc) lack of community facilities (from health to fitness facilities)

2. Creation of a business case in order to meet the needs identified from the research 

3. Creation of drawings and QS costing for the erection of a community hub that would meet the needs outlined  in the business case 

4. Successful application for planning permission (which was granted in October 2020)

During this process, the club has developed partnerships with a wide range of community organisations (stitching group, cooking group, pensioners association, local hurling and netball clubs, weight watchers, dancing club and more). These organisations not only operate out of the existing club house, but are fully integrated into the club and the ethos of community objectives.

All these organisations have come together under the community hub to pull resources and apply for joint funding opportunities.

The outcome has been amazing. Local people from the village are being engaged with a wide range of community programmes (from fitness, to arts, to social and more), anti social behaviour is being tackled through the club on a wide range of programmes and there is a sense of togetherness across the community.

Check out @CrumlinUnitedFC on twitter

About Geoff Wilson

Geoff runs his own Sports Consultancy, working with clients such as FIFA, UEFA, AFC and FIBA across the world. He is also on the board of Tourism Northern Ireland. You can follow Geoff on twitter @geoffwnjwilson connect on Linkedin at

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