Swindon Town FC Community Foundation

Connecting a Community Through Sport

The challenge

There was a significant gap in the provision of sports facilities in Swindon, particularly for more vulnerable groups, and a desire to leverage sport as a way of bringing the community together.


The solution

To design & install a fully bespoke facility that will provide groups such as the very young, people with disabilities & those who are being excluded from society, with a safe, sheltered environment and opportunities to play sport whatever the weather.


Key facts 

  • Turnkey project
  • Groundworks
  • Glulam arc frame
  • Retractable side curtains

Project overview

It was a long time in the planning but it was well worth the wait when we stood proudly at the opening ceremony of the new state-of-the-art football training centre at the site of the former County Ground Bowls Club in Swindon and saw for ourselves how these facilities are going to create so many opportunities for the local community to engage and get active as well as provide a safe environment for more vulnerable groups to enjoy playing sport all year round.  On that day, a group of disabled children were playing football there on the sports surface that was chosen specifically as it is suitable for wheelchair use.  On that summer’s day too the heaven’s opened as though proving to everyone why having a covered space is going to be so useful.  In our unpredictable climate, it enables clubs to run a programme of activities that is guaranteed to go ahead regardless of the conditions outside or the time of year.


This was a Swindon Town FC Community Foundation project supported by the Premier League, the FA, the Football Foundation, the Swindon Borough Council, South Swindon Parish Council and the Nigel Eady Trust.  Nigel Eady was a huge Swindon Town fan who bequeathed his estate to the football club under the stipulation that it should be used to benefit the local community!  The customised dome, which has been named & fully branded in his memory is a magnificent tribute to him and it blends in beautifully with the surrounding environment. 

This was a full turnkey project so we started with all the groundworks, which were carried out during heavy, persistent rainfall followed by sub-zero temperatures and significant snowfall. Despite being soaked through, caked in mud and freezing cold, the team persevered admirably and perfectly, the sun came out when the glorious glulam arcs were ready to be erected.  Each of them was carefully installed to form the framework of a structure designed to accommodate two artificial 5-a-side pitches.  There are seven arcs in total and each one took roughly three days to install – one day to lift into position and two days to drill them in securely.  Glulam engineered wood has huge aesthetic appeal as a building material but this is not compromised by strength.  Glulam is in fact extremely robust and since it is also a natural renewable and recyclable resource, it is becoming an increasingly popular eco-conscious choice.

The glulam is only visible from the inside once the cover has been lifted and tensioned but it looks spectacular as natural light is able to permeate through the fabric.  Retractable side curtains also allow a natural airflow through the centre so you can let the outside in at any time.

Shock pads were laid down before the turf was added on top and sand dressed.  Lines have been painted to mark out one 7-a-side and two 5-a-side but our understanding is that it will be used for multiple sporting activities now that other sports clubs have heard of the new fantastic facility.  Even the hardy players at Swindon Town FC are keen to get access to it for their winter training.

We finished the project by installing lighting and airsocks as well as a perimeter fencing.

We’re really proud of this structure, not least of all because of the positive impact it is going to have on the lives of disadvantaged, vulnerable young people in the local area and the potential it has to strengthen the community.

Head of STFC Community Foundation, Jon Holloway, said, “This brand new, state-of-the-art facility represents our commitment to provide even more people in Swindon with access to top quality sports facilities and equipment – right on their doorstep.  We believe that the new facility will provide the most vulnerable and disadvantaged members of our town with new opportunities and ways to engage within the heart of the community.”