THORN ATHLETIC FOOTBALL CLUB are ready to launch a new sports academy in Johnstone.
Club chiefs have taken over the running of the former McMaster Centre and will reopen it as the Thorn Athletic Sports Academy in the coming weeks.
There are plans to increase the club’s football activities, expand coaching to include other sports and deliver an enhanced selection of indoor and outdoor services to the community.
The newly-formed ‘Thorn Athletic Community Trust’ – which is a registered charity – has brought together a number of individuals from a variety of backgrounds, with a range of expertise to help drive the new initiative.
They will oversee the running of both the community football club and the Academy as a social enterprise.
All existing user groups can continue to operate from the facility, which had most recently been operating as Johnstone Community Sports Complex, and the two sessional staff members will remain.
The Thorn, which is the biggest football club in the town with more than 250 members, also hope to seek grant funding to improve the facilities around the grass football pitch and upgrade security.
During the recent coronavirus crisis the club has been busy delivering community initiatives in collaboration with organisations like Johnstone Community Council and Linstone to support vulnerable groups in the area.
But the opening of their own Sports Academy is a significant milestone in the club’s two decades of history.
Mark McGee, chairperson of Thorn Athletic Community Trust, said: “We are looking forward to opening the Thorn Athletic Sports Academy when it is safe to do so.
“A significant amount of work has gone on behind the scenes to make this happen.
“Our club began in the west Johnstone area more than 20 years ago, we were instrumental in saving the facility ten years ago and now we aim to give it a new lease of life in 2020.
“The Thorn is part of the fabric of life in Johnstone now and we are keen to get more people engaged with our organisation. We are excited about broadening our horizons with other sports and look forward to working with other groups who share our values to improve people’s everyday lives.
The facility was forced to close almost four months ago when the coronavirus crisis struck and it has been a struggle for volunteers to safeguard the project without any source of income.