Breathing new life into an old friend
For more than 30 years, Whitletts has been home to a sports complex with an emphasis on football. Its pitches have seen at least two generations of enthusiastic players experience the thrills, spills, ups, and downs of the planet’s favourite sport, and its gym has been used by those seeking to add muscle, lose weight, or rehabilitate from injury.
Having traded under various names over the years, including Shoot Super Soccer and Pro Soccer, the complex had fallen into a slow decline, a sad and sorry process which had resulted in a long-standing and important part of the community being reduced to a shadow of its former self. Things were, however, about to change for the better.
That change happened in September 2023, when James Griffith, a successful and experienced businessman who had witnessed the somewhat dilapidated state of the complex at first-hand, purchased it and immediately set about the task of transforming it into a cutting-edge sports centre for all, as well as safeguarding it – and the jobs of those who work there – for the future.
In the short time that James has owned the complex, now renamed Shoot Soccer, he has invested a significant amount of time, money and passion into the project. And it shows.
The exterior of the complex has been repainted in a striking yellow and black colour scheme; the interior has been given a substantial makeover; the changing rooms have been refurbished; the toilets have been renovated; and the centre’s seven 3G pitches have not only benefited from some restorative work but are monitored to ensure that they remain in first-rate condition. So if, for example, a bulb on one of the floodlamps stops working, it is replaced without delay. As James puts it, “People are entitled to enjoy good service and good facilities, and that’s exactly what we provide. We’re also very much of the view that a sports complex should be welcoming as well as functional, and that’s not just a matter of having nice decor and a high standard of cleanliness but of employing good people. Our staff, who all live locally and have a good rapport with our patrons, are the life blood of Shoot Soccer, without whom it could not function.”
The complex also includes a well-equipped gym, Fit-Ba, which is owned and operated by Allan Bell. Gym memberships are available for an attractive monthly rate, and plans are at hand to extend its floorspace by around 40%.
James is keen to emphasise that the Shoot Soccer complex is for everyone, from boys and girls right through to those of less tender years who keep active by playing walking football. Moreover, the complex’s importance as a community asset is borne out by the number of well-known football academies – including those run by Progressive Touches, Scott McLean, Brian Sproul (the SYFA National Development Officer), and Michael Moffat – and clubs (in whose ranks you’ll find Ayr United, Glenburn, Rangers, Annbank, Cambusdoon, Maybole, Minishant, and Valspar) which use it.
In addition to its sporting facilities, Shoot Soccer is also home to a large function suite that can cater for all manner of gatherings and events. It also benefits from a free-to-use car park with space for 160 cars, and its location offers easy access to both Ayr town centre and the by-pass. And there’s more to come: the complex’s cafe is currently being given an extensive makeover, and the building’s roof will be painted once the Ayrshire weather permits.
Shoot Soccer is back and it’s better than ever.
Shoot Soccer, Voluntary Park, Glenmuir Place, Ayr, KA8 9RR