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Lord Pendry opens new grassroots football facility in Newton-le-Willows, accompanied by Conor McGinn MP and Chris Foy

Lord Pendry opens new grassroots football facility in Newton-le-Willows, accompanied by Conor McGinn MP and Chris Foy

Date published: 22/06/2017
Lord Pendry opens new grassroots football facility in Newton-le-Willows, accompanied by Conor McGinn MP and Chris Foy
Lord Pendry, Conor McGinn MP and Chris Foy officially unveil Earlestown Athletic JFC's new ground with help from some of the club's staff and youngsters.

Lord Pendry, President of the Football Foundation, officially opened Earlestown Athletic JFC’s (EAJFC) new ground, ‘The Hive’, recently (Saturday 17 June). He was joined by Conor McGinn, MP for St Helens North and former Premier League referee, Chris Foy.  

The site of the new pitches, which had not been in use for six years, required extensive drainage and surface improvements. The resulting facility – a 4.5 acre site that is flexible enough to accommodate pitches for all age groups from Under-7 to Under-18 – will greatly benefit local sportspeople. Nicknamed ‘The Hive’ because of the club’s yellow and black colours, it will not only be the permanent home of Earlestown Athletic, but also local schools and community groups.

The grant received by the club from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund enabled the upgrading of The Hive, which is expected to raise overall football participation by 87%; so too the Under-14 demographic by 102%.

Earlestown Athletic worked alongside the Football Foundation and Lancashire FA to compile a five-year Football Development Plan, which is a vision of how sport will be played on-site with an emphasis on increasing participation.

The club currently has 17 teams playing in the Warrington Junior Football League. They are hoping to increase this number to 30 within five years, and since the beginning of the project, the club has affiliated with one women’s and two men’s open aged sides.

Players can progress through Earlestown’s junior wing into its sister organisation, Earlestown Athletic FC, with the transition complemented by coaching sessions for players aged 16 and above to move into adult football. With the unveiling of the new pitches, Earlestown Athletic JFC have now entered a partnership with League One side Wigan Athletic, who will deliver coaching sessions on-site.

The club’s Soccer Stars Academy, held every Saturday morning for three-six-year-olds, has seen figures increase from around 10 players to over 30 since the move to The Hive in late April.

The club worked in partnership with the Lancashire County FA to secure a £99,999 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund.

Since 2000 the Football Foundation Funding Partners’ investment has provided 261 grants worth £21.2m towards grassroots sports projects worth over £48.5m across the whole of Lancashire.

The Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund provides grants towards developing new or refurbished grassroots football facilities. It 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 £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.

Football Foundation President Lord Pendry said: “I was delighted to officially open the new football pitches for Earlestown Athletic JFC. This facility will not only improve the training experience for the club, but will be of use to the local community as well. Grassroots sports has many benefits, and bringing communities together is just one of them.

“The Hive is an excellent example of the work undertaken by the Football Foundation, which delivers projects generously funded by money from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund. I’d like to thank Earlestown Athletic JFC for inviting me to be a part of their opening, and to see the Football Foundation’s work in action.”

Conor McGinn, MP for the St Helens North area, said: “There is considerable demand for junior football here, and these new and improved pitches for Earlestown Athletic JFC help to meet this.

“Previously, the ground hadn’t been used for six years, so we are very glad to see it transformed into a real asset. We would like to thank the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, and the Football Foundation, for their continued support of grassroots sport in our community.”

Chris Foy, who refereed the 2010 FA Cup final between Chelsea FC and Portsmouth FC, and now works as Head of Community and Public Engagement for the PGMOL, said: “This is a brilliant new facility that is going to greatly improve grassroots football in the area. It is so important for players, referees and coaches to have good pitches for training, education and matches. My thanks go to the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, and the Football Foundation, for all of making this possible.”

Alan Syddall, Club Development Manager of Earlestown Athletic JFC, said: “The Hive will provide much-needed quality football pitches for our players to develop and enjoy the game. The club would like to thank Lord Pendry, Conor McGinn MP and Chris Foy for opening the facility.

“EAJFC believes that teaching players the basics of the game at an early age helps them to become healthier and more respectful individuals. This is easier to deliver through improved grassroots facilities. We would like to thank the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund for their grant, delivered by the Football Foundation, which has enabled us to do this.

“We would also like to thank our other partners, the St Helens Sports Development Council, in particular David Boocock, Sport England and Jason Lyons; and Angela Haymonds of the Cory Environmental Trust Board for her support.” 

ENDS

For more information, please contact:
- Alan Syddall, Earlestown Athletic, at alandsyddall@gmail.com or on 07990 777 728
- Michael Boniface at michael.boniface@footballfoundation.org.uk or on 0345 345 4555 Ext: 4292


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This is a brilliant new facility that is going to greatly improve grassroots football in the area. It is so important for players, referees and coaches to have good pitches for training, education and matches. My thanks go to the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, and the Football Foundation, for all of making this possible.”


Chris Foy, former Premier League referee

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