Jenny Marra Academy would do wonders for city’s pride

26 March 2013 

This Friday, we expect to hear if Dundee’s bid for the National Football Academy has cleared the first hurdle.

Sports Minister Shona Robison will announce the bids that have made it through to the second and final stage of the competition.

The overall winner will be announced in June.

I expect the Dundee bid to be one of those making it through this Friday.

I’m told that Dundee City Council’s bid is very strong.

A lot of work has been done, including a visit by our Council officials to the Football Association’s English academy, St George’s, Staffordshire to make sure we get it right.

The proposed siting at Camperdown has provoked mixed reaction but I think access is key to our bid, and so to site the academy with quick access to the Kingsway makes sense.

No other bid has enjoyed the vast amounts of community support that there is behind the Dundee bid.

Our bid has been long in the making.

I started the campaign to bring the National Football Academy to Dundee in July 2011.

Now over 6,000 Dundonians have signed up to the campaign at community galas, street stalls across the City and online.

It is the campaign that people in Dundee mention to me most in the streets and on the doorstep.

Posties, lawyers, bar staff, football mums and dads, schoolkids and grannies tell me that they think it would be great for the City; great for our children, great for sport, great for jobs, the economy.

Great for our pride in the City because Dundee doesn’t get enough recognition from the rest of Scotland of what a great place this is to be.

And we don’t get enough central government spending.

We all know that.

We don’t have a national Scottish centre in Dundee.

This would be our first.

And what an appropriate national centre for Dundee, our first love, football.

More citizens of Dundee play the game than in any of the other 32 council areas in Scotland.

That alone marks us out. 

With the sports investment that Glasgow is rightly receiving for the Commonwealth Games, the money set aside by the Scottish Government for the football academy is a separate investment, free to go to any other part of Scotland.

Dundee’s time has come to lay claim to that investment, to get our fair share, to boost our city with a national sports centre. 

The V&A, a fantastic development, will be great for Dundee, but it’s not enough.

If we are to create opportunities for everyone in our city, we have to get our hands on as many new starts as possible.

With a very strong bid, a great wealth of good will from everyone across the city, support from both football clubs, their supporters’ associations, endorsements from Dundee University and Abertay students and Scotland international Charlie Adam, we are saying loud and clear to the Sports Minister Shona Robison that Dundee wants the National Football Academy.

Let’s hope that after the Easter weekend, the Dundee working group will be through stage one, and will be putting their heads together to make sure we win the bid at stage two.

There’s nothing stopping us from winning this and bringing the National Football Academy and performance centre to Dundee.

This article first appeared in the Dundee "Courier"

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