Christian Fuchs, who played an integral part of Leicester City FC’s 2015/16 Premier League-winning campaign, officially unveiled Judgemeadow Community College’s new third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch (AGP) yesterday (Monday 5 December 2016). The facility was made possible thanks to a grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which is delivered by the Football Foundation.
The new floodlit pitch will be used all-year-round and is expected to raise sports participation by 37%. Not only will it be used by the school’s 1,230 pupils, a number of grassroots clubs including Stoneygate Lions FC and the Community Football Academy will also call the facility home.
The Leicester City FC Foxes Foundation, the Premier League club’s charitable arm, will use the new 3G pitch to deliver Premier League Kicks – the Premier League’s 10-year-old flagship community programme, which uses the power of football and sport to inspire young people in some of the most high-need areas of the country.
The Fox Soccer Academy, of which Christian Fuchs is a founder, will deliver coaching sessions on-site with Christian taking training personally when his own schedule allows! The Fox Soccer Academy, which also has hubs in America and Austria, focuses on developing the technical abilities of younger players.
During the planning for this pitch, Judgemeadow Community College worked alongside the Football Foundation and Leicestershire FA to compile a five-year Football Development Plan (FDP) – a long-term vision for how sport will be played at the new facility.
As part of this FDP, the provision for coach education will be strengthened, with The FA to offer Level 1 and 2 coaching qualifications on-site. A rise in disability participation will also be targeted, with the college to host matches for teams with physical and mental learning disabilities at the new facility.
The project was made possible thanks to a £90,394 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund (PL/FA:FF), which provides grants towards new or refurbished grassroots football facilities. The grant builds on previous PL/FA:FF investment for the school in 2004, when they were awarded £911,400 to build a new Football Development Centre, which the new 3G pitch forms part of.
Leicestershire has enjoyed a number of new sports facility openings recently, thanks to PL/FA:FF grants, with local stars Dion Dublin and Matt Elliot opening Wreake Valley Academy’s new 3G pitch (Tuesday 6 September 2016) and Muzzy Izzet unveiling Market Bosworth Sports Club’s new changing room pavilion (Friday 7 October 2016). Since 2000 the Football Foundation Funding Partners’ investment has provided 271grants worth £16.5m towards grassroots sports projects worth over £36.4m across the whole of Leicestershire.
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 £1.4bn 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.
Christian Fuchs said: “This is a super facility and one that I know will be used a lot, I’m down here regularly coaching and the pitch is never ever empty. I’m going to be here even more now with The Fox Soccer Academy, which aims to help young players develop their skills. I want to pass on some of what I’ve learned but also to encourage youngsters to lead active and healthy lifestyles through regular sport.
“I’m really proud that my club, Leicester City FC, are going to make use of the pitch because that is what football should be about – the professional teams at the top helping the grassroots teams at the bottom. What is also great is that the funding for the pitch is coming from the top of the game, so well done to the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund for making this happen.”
Sam McMahon, Football Development Officer, Judgemeadow Community College, said: “We are delighted that we have been given the opportunity through the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund to expand on what is already a fantastic facility.
“Due to the incredible demand in our community we have added a brand new 3G pitch to our existing full size 3G – also funded by the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund – which will allow more teams from our partner clubs and various local groups to access the site. We have people of all genders, races and ages, from two to 70-year-olds, and walking footballers taking part in healthy, active pastimes, with over 2,000 people using the facility every week.
“It’s fantastic to see the vast wealth at the top of the game filtering down to facilities like ours and we will be seeing Leicester City FC making use of the pitch to deliver their Premier League Kicks programme to our students. We would like to put on record our thanks to the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund for allowing this to happen.”
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 Judgemeadow Community College to build a fantastic new 3G pitch. This development will provide a real boost to sport in the local area and a special thanks must go to Leicester City FC’s Christian Fuchs for officially opening the new facility.
“Since 2000, the Football Foundation has supported grassroots projects worth more than £1.4bn, 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 Leicester 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 of it and to stay healthy.”
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