THE head coach of Dunfermline Boxing Club has hailed their new base at Woodmill High School as the “best facility we’ve ever had” after it opened officially last week.

Dany Coll believes that their new custom-built boxing room, transformed from what was an underused squash court, can be the starting point for introducing greater numbers of youngsters to the sport.

The club was based previously at Halbeath Community Centre but was forced to look for an alternative after a Fife Council proposal to demolish it to allow a new nursery to be built on the site was agreed to by councillors on the City of Dunfermline area committee.

But, after working alongside Community Use Fife and Fife College – who provided a team of apprentices to give it a fresh look – they now have their own facility, as well as access to the sports hall and strength and conditioning equipment.

“It’s probably the best facility we’ve ever had as a gym, that’s for sure,” Dany commented.

“When they (the boxers) are training in an environment that looks good, you get an extra two, three, five per cent out of them even, as opposed to training in a rundown old gym with bits crumbling off the ceiling.

“It’s been a bit of a blessing in disguise. We were a bit scunnered when we found out about the gym; it was a wee gym, but it was ours. We had built that up and had built our home there and, when we found out it was going to get knocked down, we were a bit disheartened.

“But we can’t expect to tell the kids never to give up if we give up and it’s all worked out well. We’ve had funding from Dunfermline and West Fife Sports Council (and the Carnegie Dunfermline Trust), and it all links in, as you’ve got a sports hub where all the clubs interact.

“I would love for the kids that were in here especially, and the school, to start having a filtering system where we can do these wee taster sessions and get them involved.”

Ewan Heeles, lead officer with Community Use Fife, commented: “Since I started and spoke with Mr Thomson from the PE department, I realised there was a lot of spaces that probably weren’t utilised in the best way.

“You can only have two, maybe a maximum of four, people in playing squash, and it just so happened that the boxing club were looking for a new home. Through discussions, it made sense to maybe change the space into something different.

“It was about bringing a few people together and getting a little bit of funding. Hopefully this is the footprint to further developments.”

Steven Thomson, principal teacher of PE, said: “A squash court in a school of this size, when you’ve got classes of 25-30 kids, it’s just a dead space because you can’t take a class of 25-30 in there and deliver a lesson.

“The minute that Euan floated the idea to me, I was on board straight away. We’re getting the benefit from it, straight through now from our third year core to our senior school, and the girls in particular are loving it because it’s something brand new for them I think.

“We’ll hopefully filter that down – as you see today, the first-years and the P7s coming up are absolutely lapping up the opportunity, so hopefully we’ll filter that down to a younger age group as well.”

Louise Downie, Woodmill’s Active Schools co-ordinator, said: “Initially, we brought up some of the P7s from the local primary schools and there’s been a mixed reaction ahead of getting here, but once they’ve been in the gym and tried it out, they’ve been really excited and enthused.

“It’s early days yet in terms of the club moving into the schoo but we’re looking forward to the pathways that we can create within the school.”

Dunfermline South councillor Fay Sinclair commented: “I think our community guys did work very hard to see if there were any other premises, but linking in with the school like this just seems to be the perfect solution that’s so beneficial for everyone involved.

“Not only do the boxing club now have a proper home in a much more suitable room and environment, the school have got the use of these facilities and, for the boxing club, it’s in the heart of the community now.”

Dany added: “Euan’s helped us no end; he’s been absolutely magnificent. If it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t be here, it’s all fallen into place.”