Jenny Marra :  Community Sport Inquiry (speech in the Scottish Parliament)

20 September 2012

The Minister for Commonwealth Games and Sport will not be surprised that I will start by talking about our campaign to bring the national football academy to Dundee, especially as I spent many days this summer running about wearing a T-shirt that said exactly that.

She will also know that over 5,000 people have signed up to the campaign to bring the academy to Dundee and that nearly 1,000 people have e-mailed her letters outlining the reasons why it should come to our city.

There is a lot of support for it in Dundee.


This summer the national football academy project was described as Dundee‟s sporting V&A, which is a sign that people are keen to make it happen.


The working group, which is supported by the minister‟s Scottish National Party council colleagues in Dundee, is now at an advanced stage and has taken trips down to the centre in England to put our bid together.


I am delighted that the minister outlined the timetable for the bidding process just a couple of weeks ago.


Dundee is united in wanting to bring the football academy to our city.


I want, though, to ask the minister a couple of questions about the budget commitments to the national football academy.


Can she clarify in her closing remarks whether the funding will be available for the national performance centre? I have just totted up expenditure in the Scottish Government‟s budget for the young Scots fund, which amounts to £24.7 million over three years.


However, if I understand it clearly, the Scottish Government promised £25 million to the national performance centre, so the commitment to the young Scots fund already falls slightly short.


In addition, when giving evidence to the Education and Culture Committee last year, Fiona Hyslop committed other moneys to the tune of about £8 million from the young Scots fund for other cultural projects.


Those commitments are in excess of £32 million, but there is only £24.7 million in the budget over the next three years.


I would be grateful if the minister could clarify in her closing remarks how much will be spent on the national performance centre, whether it will all come from the young Scots fund, which seems to be a bit elastic, and whether additional funds might be made available to fund it from the sports budget.


I was very excited this summer by our tennis success, so much so that when Andy Murray took on Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final, I decided to survey our tennis facilities in Dundee.


I spent a day going round with a video camera—the video is online if anyone wants to see the state of our facilities.


We had a lot of interest after posting it.


For example, Judy Murray tweeted me and made the powerful comment, which Tennis Scotland representatives agreed with when I met them, that we need good facilities if we are not just to encourage children to try sport, but to maintain their interest and keep them coming back to sport.


I do not know whether the minister has had a chance to see the video, but it is clear from it that the facilities across our city are different in different communities.


Indeed, in Lochee, the facility is rather disgraceful, being overgrown and having no lines on the courts.


Shona Robison: Is Jenny Marra trying to say that what she describes is a recent phenomenon? Does she accept that, if there is a problem with the facilities, it tends to go back a few years to a previous Administration‟s tenure?



Jenny Marra: The minister makes a fair point, because there has been underinvestment for years.

However, it is about life chances and opportunities for our children, so she should look seriously at the issue.


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