Date published: 26/09/2016
From left to right: Cllr Paul Sweet, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing, City of Wolverhampton Council, Emma Reynolds, MP for Wolverhampton North East and Toni Ellis, Principal, Our Lady & St Chad Catholic Academy, formally opened the new facilities.
Emma Reynolds, MP for Wolverhampton North East, unveiled the City of Wolverhampton Council’s new £3m grassroots sports facilities, including new natural grass pitches and a third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch (AGP) recently (Tuesday 20 September 2016).
The project was made possible thanks to a £578,000 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which provides grants towards developing new or refurbished grassroots football facilities. The project also received £340,000 from Sport England Improvement Fund. Cllr Paul Sweet, City of Wolverhampton Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing, helped open proceedings.
At Our Lady and St Chad Catholic Academy, the grant has enabled the Council to build a new state-of-the-art 3G AGP that will be used all-year-round by not only the school, but also a number of local community groups.
At Barnhurst Playing Fields meanwhile, the grant has allowed the Council to upgrade their existing natural grass pitches to include: two full-size pitches; three junior-size pitches; six mini-soccer pitches and pedestrian pathways. A car park has also been built on-site that incorporates a series of mosaics designed by local artist Steve Field in collaboration with pupils of Aldersley High School.
Through this project, the City of Wolverhampton Council have worked in close partnership with the Football Foundation and Birmingham FA to establish a five-year Football Development Plan (FDP) – a long-term vision for how sport will be played at the new facility. The FDP will support the partnership of youth and adult leagues, while also enabling the site to deliver The FA Skills Programme Holiday schemes.
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 15,000 grants worth nearly £580m towards improving grassroots sport, which it has used to attract additional partnership funding of just under £800m – over £1.3bn of investment into the grassroots game.
Since 2000, the Football Foundation Funding Partners’ investment has provided 337 grants worth £25m towards grassroots sports projects worth over £61m across the whole of Birmingham.
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.
Emma Reynolds, MP for Wolverhampton North East, said: “I really enjoyed helping open Wolverhampton City Council’s new facilities today. Both sites act as an integral part of the local community, and similar to many other grassroots facilities, play a key role in improving the physical health of our nation and increasing the number of people taking part in sport and physical activity.
“The overall progression of grassroots sport through projects such as these in Wolverhampton is fantastic and I would like to thank the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund for supporting such great work. It is great to see the new facilities ready for use and I would like to thank all those involved in making the projects a great success.”
Cllr Paul Sweet, the City of Wolverhampton Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing, said: “We know how important sports and fitness facilities are to the people of Wolverhampton. These developments, supported by the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund and Sport England, represent major investment in sport in our city, and will have a major role to play in both improving grassroots sport in Wolverhampton and also improving the health and well-being of the local population.”
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 the City of Wolverhampton Council to build a brand new 3G pitch and upgrade their existing natural grass pitches. This development will provide a real boost to sport in the local area and a special thanks must go to Emma Reynolds MP for opening the new facilities.
“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. These latest projects in Wolverhampton are 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 of it and to stay healthy.”
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