The great interest in the official opening of the Cruyff Court Denis Law earlier this month was a fantastic reminder, as if any was needed, of just how brightly the star of Denis Law shines. Everyone was desperate to catch a glimpse of a global sporting icon as he came home to unveil the fantastic facility bearing his name, not least the youngsters who are already making good use of the court.
Now the buzz of the day has passed and the dust has settled, it is worth taking the time to appreciate something Denis himself views as the most important aspect of a project which captured the imagination of the media and public alike at the launch – the lasting legacy.
The legacy stretches far beyond the boundaries of football or even sport. What facilities such as this provide is a focal point for young people and a vehicle for all their energy and spirit. Those already showing sporting promise are coming together with some who may otherwise have shied away from organised activities at schools and clubs, giving them a new opportunity to get involved in a very different setting.
RGU Streetsport, a programme which does fantastic work throughout the city, has had a fantastic response to the sessions they have put on at the court and in between it is being well used as children and young people come together informally to play – just as Denis did as a youngster growing up in the city.
Of course times have changed, playing football and games on the streets in the way previous generations did isn’t an option. Instead we need to create safe and welcoming environments that encourages the same freedom for youngsters to express themselves – and that is exactly what the new Cruyff Court Denis Law does.
The approach of creating purpose-built urban sports facilities was pioneered by the late, great Johan Cruyff and has been adopted in 19 countries worldwide.
Aberdeen City Council joined forces with the Denis Law Legacy Trust and the Cruyff Foundation to fund the £200,000 project. It revived one of our underused city centre spaces, on Catherine Street, and showcased the value of teamwork.
In March the Finance, Policy and Resources Committee agreed to allocate a further £250,000 from the Council to deliver a second Cruyff Court in the city. We’re actively working with our partners to decide the location.
At the heart of the Council’s vision for the future of the city is embracing the potential of all of our residents – with young people central to that. Investing in education is vital, but so too is recognising the importance of the communities that provide the foundation for all those growing up in Aberdeen.
Facilities are vital, so too is engaging with and supporting youngsters. The Cruyff Court Denis Law is a microcosm of that approach and I am delighted to see it already capturing the imagination.