Date published: 14/10/2014
Former Ipswich Town Chairman, David Sheepshanks returned to Suffolk yesterday to officially open a new state-of-the-art £357,013 third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch (AGP) at East Bergholt High School, Suffolk. The project was made possible thanks to a £226,513 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which provides grants towards developing new or refurbished grassroots football facilities.
The new 3G AGP will allow East Bergholt High School to provide pupils and members of the local community a safe and secure environment to participate in sport all year round. The floodlit pitch complements the already excellent sports facilities at the site, which include a sports hall, fitness suite and real grass pitches. Prior to this development there were no 3G pitches within a 10 mile radius.
East Bergholt High School, who are committed to developing female football through intra-mural competition and by hosting women’s league festivals, will use the pitch for over 50 hours a week to deliver PE lessons and extra-curricular activity. It is estimated that 650 pupils and members of local clubs will use the site on a weekly basis.
The pitch will also provide five local grassroots clubs East Bergholt FC, Capel Plough FC, Hadleigh Youth Utd, Lawford Juniors and Brantham Athletic with year-round access to training facilities and for Mini-Soccer matches in the South Suffolk Youth League and the Ipswich & Suffolk Youth League. The five clubs run 82 teams between them currently and the new facility will help them create 30 more teams over the next five years.
The project’s football development plan has placed strong emphasis on increasing opportunities for pupils from the school to gain coaching experience and qualifications. Students at the school will support football development in local primary schools by assisting at sports festivals and competitions. Students who enjoy and have a natural aptitude for coaching will be identified to help with local Mini-Soccer teams and offered pathways into securing coaching qualifications.
The partner clubs have committed to ensuring that a minimum of 45% of club coaches are signed up to the FA License Coaches Club. Also, the clubs will identify and assist coaches to progress to FA Level 2 award on a regular basis.
The school worked in partnership with the Suffolk FA to secure a £226,513 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund. Since 2000 the Football Foundation Funding Partners’ investment has provided 85 grants worth £5.7m towards grassroots sports projects worth over £13.2m across the whole of Suffolk.
Funded by the Premier League, The FA, and the Government, via Sport England, the Premier League and The FA Facilities Fund is delivered by the Football Foundation, the country’s largest sports charity. Since it was launched in 2000, the Foundation has awarded around 13,000 grants worth more than £500m towards improving grassroots sport, which it has used to attract additional partnership funding of over £700m – over £1.2bn of investment into the grassroots game.
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.
David Sheepshanks CBE, commented: “It was a privilege to officially open this excellent new 3G pitch at East Bergholt High School. From my time at Ipswich Town, I know the passion people have for football in this area and this exceptional facility will be hugely beneficial for both pupils at the school and for local grassroots clubs.
“Chairing the national football centre at St George’s Park, I fully understand how important quality playing surfaces are in the development of young players. I’d like to congratulate East Bergholt High School, Suffolk FA and local clubs for their hard work in making this project a reality and also the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund for their generous contribution.”
Colin Turner, Headteacher, East Bergholt High School, said: “The pitch is a fantastic new facility which greatly enhances the sporting provision for students at the school. The pitch also provides a first class floodlit playing surface for local clubs, and will hopefully encourage higher participation rates in games. The school is grateful for the financial support it received from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, Babergh District Council and our School Association. I would also like to thank David Sheepshanks CBE, for being our guest of honour at the official opening.”
Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, added: “The Football Foundation is responsible for managing and delivering the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which is funded by the Premier League, The FA and the Government, via Sport England. This facility is an example of the positive impact that this funding is having on our grassroots game. First-class facilities like this are crucial to creating more opportunities for local people to enjoy regular sport.
“Aided by the Suffolk County FA, East Bergholt High School deserve huge credit for taking a vision and turning it into a reality, using funding provided by the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund. Sport has the power to make a positive impact on the health of communities and this wonderful new facility will improve the sporting experience of local people and encourage them to be more active.”
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