Volair Ltd opened Prescot Soccer and Leisure Centre’s new £309,996 third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch (AGP) recently (Friday 24 June 2016), thanks to a £99,996 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which provides grants towards developing new or refurbished grassroots football facilities.
In addition to this, a grant of £190,000 was received from Sport England’s Improvement Fund, with a further £20,000 invested by Volair Ltd, an owned and controlled subsidiary of Knowsley Council, who will manage all of Knowsley’s Leisure Centres including Prescot Soccer Centre and Community Use of the Centres for Learning on behalf of Knowsley Borough Council.
The grant has enabled Volair Ltd to refurbish an old sand-dressed AGP and construct a new 3G AGP at the Prescot Soccer and Leisure Centre. The pitch will be used by a number of local grassroots football clubs and Liverpool County FA, who run initiatives such as Just Play and Mash Up, offering recreational football playing opportunities and pathways for young people to access local teams.
Over the last three years, due to adverse weather conditions, many games across Knowsley had been postponed – the last winter period saw 10 weeks of football lost due to the weather. However, thanks to the all-weather nature of the 3G AGP, this will be a thing of the past.
Volair Ltd and Knowsley Metropolitan Council worked in partnership with Liverpool FA and the Football Foundation to put together a five-year Football Development Plan, which is a vision for how football will be played on site with an emphasis on increasing participation.
Everton Football in the Community and Liverpool Football Club Foundation also use the site for holiday programmes and other initiatives such as Primary School Fun Festivals and Fun Football night sessions.
Disability provision on site is set to increase, with Liverpool County FA’s Disability Officer offering weekly coaching on the pitch. A weekly Girls Development Centre is planned for Under-7 to Under-11, and an Us-Girls programme for Under-17 to Under-19 will support progression into ladies’ sides.
There is also room for multi-sport usage on the new 3G AGP, such as the “This Girl Can” boot camp fitness sessions, and starting in July, rounders’ sessions for mums from local schools. The centre is also committed to developing a rugby team.
A number of local grassroots teams will be using the centre as their home ground next season including Prescot Cables FC and Knowsley Youth, whose reserve and youth teams will play their home games at the new facility. All of the primary schools in Knowsley are also invited to take part in the annual Knowsley Schools Football Tournaments.
The Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund is funded by the Premier League, The FA, and the Government, via Sport England. It is delivered by the Football Foundation, the country’s largest sports charity. Since it was launched in 2000, the Foundation has awarded around 14,000 grants worth more than £560m towards improving grassroots sport, which it has used to attract additional partnership funding of over £787m – over £1.3bn of investment into the grassroots game.
Since 2000 the Football Foundation Funding Partners’ investment has provided 203 grants worth £15.6m towards grassroots sports projects worth over £55m across the whole of the Liverpool FA region.
By providing more high-quality facilities, coupled with coaching at the appropriate age group, the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund aims to improve the experience for regular players as well as attracting new players to the game.
Many of the new state-of-the-art facilities will serve to strengthen the connection between professional football clubs and their local communities, particularly in the most deprived areas of the country, through the professional clubs’ community trusts’ outreach work.
Kevin Schofield the Managing Director of Volair, said: “The new pitch is a fantastic addition to the Soccer Centre and provides the perfect platform to improve the experience for all players and will provide a real boost to sport in the local area.
"The centre already provides a diverse and varied programme of football activities attracting players of all ages and abilities. Along with the gym facilities and players’ lounge, the centre will provide a real hub for sport in Knowsley. All of this would have not been possible without the funding and support from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund.”
Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said: “I am delighted that a grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund has enabled Volair Ltd to upgrade The Prescot Soccer and Leisure Centre. This development will provide a real boost to sport in the local area.
“Since 2000, the Football Foundation has supported grassroots projects worth more than £1.3bn, investing into areas where the need is greatest and where it will have the biggest impact in terms of getting more people playing football and a wide range of other sports.
“With this funding, provided by the Premier League, The FA and the Government, through Sport England, we are helping to improve community sports facilities across the country and thereby the playing experience of those who take part. This latest project in Prescot is the latest addition to the inventory of modern community sports sites we are developing that cater for the needs of local people who want to play sport purely for the love if it and to stay healthy.”
Sport England Property Director, Charles Johnston, said: “Sports facilities are a vital part of grassroots sport and we know people have a better experience of when they can play in good quality facilities. The investment being made into Prescot Soccer and Leisure Centre through our Improvement Fund will make a big difference to community sport in and around Prescot and will ensure people and teams have a place to get active and enjoy sport all year round.”
If you are interested in booking the facility for your team or would like to take part in one of the initiatives named above, you can contact Volair on 0151 443 2200 or visit the website www.volair.org.uk
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