Date published: 29/09/2014
FA Chairman Greg Dyke has taken a tour of Lowestoft in Suffolk where a series of football facility improvements have given a major boost to grassroots football in the area.
As well as opening a state-of-the-art new pavilion at one of the town’s major grassroots hubs at Dip Farm, he also toured two other sites that are transforming the way football is being played in the local area after receiving a combined sum of in excess of £1 million from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund.
The facilities on view reflect some of the innovative approaches now being taken to tackle the quality of facilities at grassroots level and ensuring that the popularity and levels of participation of XI v XI FA affiliated teams are maintained.
Schemes such as those showcased in Lowestoft are mirrored nationally through the FA’s partnerships with the Football Foundation and County FAs.
Greg also took in an FA Skills coaching session, which - for the first time - took place at the refurbished Dip Farm Playing Fields. The FA Skills programme administered by 158 qualified coaches has already offered 6 million places to 5-11 year olds across the country and has been commended for putting an emphasis on fun, building technique and for aiding the development of transferable life-skills such as team building and confidence.
Mr Dyke said: “I’m delighted that The FA has been able to play its part in making these tremendous new facilities at Dip Farm a reality and I commend all the partners that have come together to make this happen. Through the Football Foundation, The FA has helped to develop 1,700 sites like this across the country demonstrating our commitment to securing the foundations of grassroots football.
“And it is great to see an FA Skills session taking place because encouraging participation from an early age and providing adequate facilities, as demonstrated here at Dip Farm, are the heartbeat of the National Game.”
Terry Butcher and Chris Sutton, two former players with strong connections to Lowestoft – albeit with allegiances from opposites sides of the East Anglian footballing divide - were also on hand to take the tour and were impressed by the facilities
Former England captain Terry Butcher said: “Lowestoft is smack bang in the middle of a very fierce footballing rivalry with Norwich one way and Ipswich the other - but it is also a strong footballing town in its own right.
“I was raised in Lowestoft and remember kicking a ball around as a youngster and this tour brings back lots of great memories from the place where I got my first real taste of football. It’s wonderful to see the work that The FA is doing to boost football in the area through the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund.”
Norwich City stalwart and one-half of the barn-storming Sutton & Shearer ‘SAS’ partnership that took Blackburn to the Premier League title in the 1994/95 season said:
“Good coaching from an early age is key, not only to raising the standards of football played at the higher levels, but also for building enthusiasm and love of the game at grassroots. What is great about the work in Lowestoft is that we are witnessing how better coaching, participation and facilities, feed into one and other and strengthen the National Game as a whole.”
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 – totalling over £1.2bn of investment into the grassroots game.