Graham Taylor OBE, former England manager and Football Foundation Ambassador, was at Belper Leisure Centre in Derbyshire recently (Friday 5 June) to officially open a new floodlit third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch (AGP). The project was made possible thanks to a £207,221 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which is delivered by the Football Foundation.
Graham Taylor, who also managed Watford FC and Aston Villa FC during a long career in football, cut the ceremonial ribbon at Belper Leisure Centre and lauded the investment from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which has enabled an old Redgra pitch to be converted into a state-of-the-art 3G facility. The pitch will be extensively used all-year round by grassroots clubs, community groups, Derby County Football in the Community (FITC) and pupils from Belper School.
The Football Foundation worked with Belper Leisure Centre and Derbyshire FA to produce a five-year Football Development Plan (FDP), which is a vision for how football will be delivered at the site with the emphasis placed on increasing and maximising participation. Strong partnerships are already in place with local FA Charter Standard Club Belper Sports FC who will regularly use the new 3G AGP for training and matches. The FDP will see an additional six teams created at Belper Sports FC over the next five years, mainly by increasing Mini-Soccer provision to ensure a sustainable future for the Junior section.
Additionally, Derby County FITC currently delivers disability football at the Leisure Centre and will be extending this offering as a result of the new 3G AGP’s FDP produced as part of the Football Foundation’s application process. The pitch will also be used on an ad-hoc basis for the delivery of community programmes by Derby County FITC.
Graham Taylor OBE was joined at the opening ceremony by Pauline Latham OBE, MP for Mid-Derbyshire, Dawn Heron, Chief Executive of the Derbyshire FA and David Heron, Chairman of the Derbyshire FA.
Graham, said: “I was delighted to be at Belper Leisure Centre to officially open their fantastic new 3G pitch, made possible thanks to the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund . I’ve seen it today full with kids enjoying playing football and it highlights just how great an impact this facility will have on grassroots sport in the local area.
“In my role as a Football Foundation Ambassador I have visited many similar facilities across the country which the Foundation has delivered. Over the last 15 years, the Foundation have developed processes which identify where the need for investment is greatest and where it can achieve a significant impact in terms of participation increases and improving community health and the new 3G pitch in Belper is yet another perfect example of this expertly targeted investment.
“During my managerial career I managed some of the best young players in the country and they all started out at the grassroots. If we are going to produce better players for the professional game we need better grassroots facilities; we are making huge strides in this area thanks to the Football Foundation.
“It’s important to remember where the money that the Football Foundation expertly invests into essential sports facilities has come from; the very top of the game. The Premier League, The FA and the Government through Sport England are the ones who have written the cheque and their funding is making a huge impact by enabling the Foundation to deliver the very latest community facilities across the country, especially in some of the most deprived areas of the country.”
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. The Football Foundation is currently celebrating its 15-year Anniversary. Since it was launched in 2000, the Foundation has awarded around 13,000 grants worth more than £530m towards improving grassroots sport. It has used this investment to attract additional partnership funding of over £736m – delivering over £1.3bn of investment into the grassroots game.
Belper Leisure Centre also received £50,000 from Sport England’s Inspired Facilities fund towards the cost of the new pitch. To date the fund has helped nearly 1,900 local sports projects across the country.
Since 2000 the Football Foundation Funding Partners’ investment has provided 105 grants worth £8.5m towards grassroots sports projects with a total project cost of over £17m across the whole of Derbyshire.
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.
Pauline Latham OBE, MP for Mid-Derbyshire, commented: “It was a privilege to attend the official opening of the new 3G pitch at Belper Leisure Centre. This stunning, all-weather facility will be of tremendous benefit to the local community for many years and I’d like to thank the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund for its significant investment into Mid-Derbyshire.
“Everyone involved in the project from Belper Leisure Centre, Derbyshire FA and Football Foundation, deserve huge credit for what they’ve helped to achieve and I look forward to watching local sport go from strength to strength over the coming years thanks to this excellent new facility.”
Sport England Property Director, Charles Johnston, said: “We know people have a better experience of sport when they have good facilities in which to play. The investment we have made through our Inspired Facilities fund together with the investment through the Football Foundation will ensure the current and future players at Belper Leisure Centre will have access to a first-class sports facility for many years to come.”
Neil Malenoir, Manager of Belper Leisure Centre, said: “It has taken a great deal of time, effort and assistance from many people to provide this wonderful facility and the Belper Leisure Centre Board of Directors and myself would like to thank the Derbyshire FA, Football Foundation and Derby County Community Trust for their support throughout the project.
Also, a great deal of thanks is given to the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, Sport England, Amber Valley Borough Council and Belper Town Council for contributing financially towards the facility and of course a very special thank you to Mr Graham Taylor for opening the facility today in the presence of our local MP Pauline Latham, local dignitaries and other special guests.
“The facility has been met with great enthusiasm by the local community, schools, clubs and leagues and there is little doubt that it will have a tremendous impact on the grassroots of the game within Derbyshire.”
For more information contact:
- Neil Malenoir on 01773 825 285 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Bradley Cleveland on 07548 710 093 or email@example.com