Sky Sports News anchor, Hayley McQueen, was at Woodhouse College in Finchley, North London, today (26 April) to mark the official opening of the sixth form’s new £470,554 floodlit third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch (AGP). The opening ceremony was Hayley’s first official engagement as an Ambassador for the Football Foundation.
The college’s new facility was made possible thanks to a £220,554 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which is delivered by the Football Foundation. The new surface replaces an old sand-dressed pitch, which had become so worn it was no longer fit for use.
Hayley, who is one of the UK’s best-known female sports journalists, marked the opening by unveiling a ceremonial plaque before spending time talking to the pupils about her career as a sports broadcaster and her love for the grassroots game.
The Football Foundation worked with Woodhouse College and Middlesex FA to produce a five-year Football Development Plan (FDP). The FDP outlines a vision for how the facility will benefit the community in years to come and how football will be delivered at the site, with an emphasis on increasing participation.
The pitch will be used by students at the college, as well as the main partner clubs AC Finchley FC (24 teams), Oakhill Tigers FC (ten teams), Alexandra Park Youth FC (30 teams), Olympiacos Youth FC (nine teams), Whetstone Wanderers FC (36 teams) and Old Woodhouseians FC (eight teams).
The Plan also foresees the creation of an additional 13 male, female and disabled teams. Specifically, AC Finchley FC and Whetstone Wanderers FC will work alongside the college and Middlesex FA to provide opportunities for Under-12 and Under-16 disabled teams to train on the new pitch.
The state-of-the-art facility will also play host to a girls’ drop-in session, and competitive league. Other initiatives created by the FDP include Mars Just Play and Football Futures sessions, while other sports are expected to feature as part of the college’s PE curriculum plan.
There are also plans in the pipeline for the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation to use the pitch as a community hub, from which they will deliver a range of outreach programmes, which will benefit local people and groups even further.
The project has also received £100,000 funding from The FA, as part of their capital allocation within the Whole Sport Plan agreed with Sport England. This is awarded to support the sustainability of community clubs and create more opportunities to participate in sport within a high quality environment.
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 14,200 grants worth more than £560m towards improving grassroots sport, which it has used to attract additional partnership funding of over £780m – over £1.3bn of investment into the grassroots game.
Since 2000 the Football Foundation Funding Partners’ investment has provided 218 grants worth £21.7m towards grassroots sports projects worth over £93m across the whole of Middlesex.
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.
Hayley McQueen said: “Today was a fantastic event! It was such a pleasure to be able to officially open Woodhouse College’s stunning new playing surface.
“You could see from the smiles on the students’ faces what a difference having nice sports facilities like this makes. But it doesn’t stop at the school gates. It’s going to be used extensively by the wider community too.
“Thanks to this new pitch a number of local grassroots clubs are going to be able to grow in size and provide opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to get to play regular football, and all the benefits it brings.
‘‘I’m particularly pleased at how it will support the women’s game with girls’ football drop-in sessions and a competitive girls’ league being catered for at the site.
‘‘I’m thrilled that my first engagement as a Football Foundation Ambassador is to unveil such an impressive sports site that will have such a positive impact locally. And it is just one of the £1.3 billion worth of community projects that the Foundation has supported since 2000 with investment from its core funders – the Premier League, The FA, the Government and Sport England
“I’m very fortunate to work in the industry I do because it afford me the chance to report on the stars at the top of the game. But we mustn’t forget where it all starts, and where the next generation of young stars will come from – the grassroots.
“Thousands of local people are going to enjoy playing sports this facility. Who knows, maybe some of them will go on to make it as professionals and I’ll be reporting on them one day too!”
John Rubinstein, Principal of Woodhouse College, said: “We are thrilled to have this brilliant new facility for our students to use, and to have Haley McQueen officially open it for us.
‘‘We are committed to encouraging our young people to be active in sporting activities of all kinds, and sport plays an important part of our enrichment programme.
‘‘So many people at this age across the country stop any kind of physical fitness activity as soon as it ceases to be compulsory, and then years later they are paying expensive fees to join gyms to regain the fitness they lost at 17. We are determined to inspire our students to keep playing the sports they love and to take advantage of the opportunities on offer. This pitch extends those opportunities.
‘‘We are also really pleased to be able to offer this facility to the wider community at weekends and evenings. Community-based football clubs, like The Old Woodhouseians, will certainly appreciate the step up in quality compared with our old pitch.
‘‘We are grateful to the Premier League & The FA facilities Fund for making this a reality.”
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 Woodhouse College to upgrade their 3G pitch. This development will provide a real boost to sport in the local area. I must thank our Ambassador, Hayley McQueen, for kindly opening the facility.
“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 Middlesex 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.”
For more information contact:
- Peter Murphy on 020 8492 8234 or PMurphy@woodhouse.ac.uk
- Harry Simmons on 0345 345 4555 Ext: 4274 or firstname.lastname@example.org