AMBITIOUS plans to overhaul facilities at Minehead Barbarians Rugby Club will help give girls the same opportunities as boys, according to officials.

A £200,000 expansion scheme is being planned for the popular club, which has three senior teams and junior sections for boys aged six to 18.

However, due to limited changing facilities, girls are only able to play up to the age of 12.

Club chairman Grahame Symes, club chairman, said: “We are all about equal opportunities and the girls are as important a part of the club as the boys.

“We are catering for kids from as far away as Porlock and Lynton – all over greater Exmoor – and the development would give us more scope for more kids to play here.

“It is very important that we do this as playing here gives them a chance to keep fit and to gain confidence from engaging socially with others.”

The club is awaiting news on funding applications to three grant-making bodies before the scheme gets the go-ahead.

West Somerset Council was discussing the possibility of handing the club £50,000 as the County Gazette went to press on Wednesday evening.

The award of the money – from a pot of cash paid by housing developer Summerfield Developments to the council to benefit the community – could be rubber-stamped on November 21.

Grant applications to Sport England and the Rugby Football Union are expected to be decided on soon and the club is in the process of generating the remaining £50,000 needed by fundraising.

The club, where England full-back Danielle Waterman first played rugby, is hoping to make the sport and other activities staged there such as kickboxing more accessible to more people.

Mr Symes added: “We are pretty hopeful we can get together a girls’ side together but they obviously need separate changing rooms.

“The success of Danielle is an inspiration to the youngsters – I’m not saying it’s all down to the club but playing here certainly didn’t do her any harm.

“We are fundraising like mad at the moment and are keen to not just depend on grants.”

To support the club’s fundraising efforts, contact one of the officials as listed on the club’s official website at barbarians