Today, former Premier League referee, Chris Foy joined Michelle Hinnigan, captain of Everton Ladies FC and her first team coach, Andy Spence to officially open St John Bosco Arts College’s new £1m third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch (AGP) and changing room pavilion. Ian Hussin, a local Select Group assistant referee, also joined in proceedings as did Stacey McMahon, a sports tutor from the Liverpool FC Foundation College.
The state-of-the-art facility was made possible thanks to a £637,245 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which provides grants towards developing new or refurbished grassroots football facilities.
The grant has enabled St John Bosco Arts College to build a floodlit 3G AGP that will be used by a range of community groups and local primary schools. The funding also allowed the school to build a new changing room pavilion, comprising: two team changing rooms; a large officials’ changing area; spectator toilets; office space and plant storage.
In addition to Everton FC Centre of Excellence, several grassroots clubs including Richmond Raith Rovers, Red Rum FC and the Liverpool FC Foundation College also use the 3G pitch to deliver their Young Leaders and Football Futures programmes. Football Futures helps to develop volunteers through practical sessions and workshops, while Young Leaders focuses on helping teenagers to build the necessary skills needed in later life.
Through this project, the school worked in close partnership with the Football Foundation and Liverpool FA to establish a five-year Football Development Plan (FDP) – a long-term vision for how sport will be played at the new facility – projected to increase female participation by over 40%. The FDP will also see a new 11v11 mid-week floodlit league established, with participants now able to enjoy the new facility throughout the winter months.
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 more than £580m towards improving grassroots sport, which it has used to attract additional partnership funding of over £800m – over £1.3bn of investment into the grassroots game.
Since 2000, the Football Foundation Funding Partners’ investment has provided 204 grants worth £15m towards grassroots sports projects worth over £55m across the whole of Liverpool.
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.
Chris Foy, Head of Community and Public Engagement at the Professional Game Match Officials Limited, said: “Grassroots sport in Liverpool is now better off thanks to the investment in this new pitch and changing room, which was made possible by the Premier League & The Facilities Fund. St John Bosco will serve as an important sports hub in its community, with provisions for people of all ages and abilities to play sport just for the pure enjoyment of it.
“What is also excellent to see is the strong link between the lowest levels of the game and the professional one. Everton FC were represented here today and the Liverpool FC Foundation are going to be very active here helping to support young volunteers and making sure teenagers make the right life choices.
“Having Ian alongside me today, a Select Group Assistant Referee, offered a great example of what can be achieved through the grassroots game when provided with the right infrastructure. Having refereed across all levels of the game, Ian and I really do understand the value of facilities like this one at St John Bosco – they keep healthy and mould the next crop of young sport professionals.
“I would like to congratulate all those at the school for their great work in making this project such a success. I would also like to thank the Football Foundation for their tremendous work across the country that ensures the continued development of grassroots sport, and importantly, the Premier League, The FA and the Government through Sport England whose financial support has made all of this possible.”
Michelle Hinnigan, Captain of Everton Ladies and PE Teacher at St John Bosco, said: “I really enjoyed attending the opening here at St John Bosco today – the 3G pitch and changing room pavilion are top quality facilities that will offer local grassroots footballers a facility at which they hone their skills at training and showcase their talent in matches.
“It is really important to have quality facilities at the grassroots level because this not only helps youngsters to maximise their potential, but give whole communities a focal point to come and enjoy playing sport with their mates. Thanks must go to the school for all their hard work and importantly, the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, whose financial support ensures that grassroots sport continues to develop right across the country.”
Darren Gidman, Head teacher, St John Bosco Arts College, said: “Thank you to Chris Foy for opening our new 3G pitch and changing pavilion. The new facilities at St John Bosco Arts College are a wonderful opportunity not only for the students at the college but for the wider community.
“The funding provided by the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund will encourage, develop and promote football for all with particular emphasis on developing football for girls and women. St John Bosco will provide a hub in the north of the city by improving grassroots football that offer top class facilities and opportunities.”
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 St John Bosco Arts College to upgrade 3G Pitch and facilities. This development will provide a real boost to sport in the local area. Thanks must go to Chris Foy, Andy Spence, Michelle Hinnigan, Stacey McMahon and Ian Hussin for helping open the new 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 Liverpool 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.”
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