ANTRIM and Newtownabbey Borough Council is finally reopening a number of outdoor sporting facilities following the recent easing of restrictions announced by the Northern Ireland Executive.
Golfers can once again get into the swing with council courses and driving ranges at Allen Park and Ballyearl reopening from Thursday (April 1).
Massereene Golf Club has also bounced back after a long hiatus.
Booking is essential for both council courses. Ballyearl is open to members and non-members, however Allen Park is currently restricted to members only ‘at this stage’.
The 3G and synthetic pitches across the Borough as well as the Athletics Track at Antrim Stadium will also re-open for affiliated sports clubs on Monday April 12.
Council has stressed, however, that it will be for training only. Furthermore, training sessions are limited to 15 people including coaches - and once again booking is required.
Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Councillor Jim Montgomery is glad that sport is back - albeit tentatively.
“I am delighted these facilities are reopening, now that the longer days are here,” he said.
“It is a great opportunity for our residents to enjoy our fantastic outdoor leisure facilities and get more active, outdoors.”
Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has also welcomed the first ‘cautious steps’ to relaxing the restrictions relating to sport.
She confirmed that groups of up to 10 people from no more than two households can now take part in outdoor sport together - this is in addition to elite athletes and P.E for schools
“Sport and physical activity play a crucial role in our physical and mental health and well-being and we have all missed the opportunity to get out and get active over the past few months,” said the Minister.
“It is, however, vital that the return to activities is managed and carefully controlled and I know that the sports Governing Bodies have worked hard to develop detailed protocols to keep volunteers, coaches, parents and participants safe.
“We have to move forward cautiously with each step being informed by the health and scientific advice to ensure that restrictions continue to be eased and we can eventually get back to competitive action and to indoor sports when the time is right.
“Responsibility for that rests with everyone involved in sport.”