Former Norwich City FC Manager, Nigel Worthington, current Canaries captain, Russell Martin and England rugby stars, Ben and Tom Youngs, were in Aylsham recently (Sunday 1 May), to officially open the new Youngs Park sports facility.
The project was made possible thanks to a £385,728 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which is delivered by the Football Foundation.
The grant has given a focus to sport in and around Aylsham, including 20 football teams. Having led a nomadic existence for many years, those teams can now all play in the same place at state-of-the-art facilities, which includes three full-size natural grass pitches, two youth natural grass pitches, four Mini Soccer natural grass pitches, a training area and one 9v9 natural grass pitch.
The new pavilion comprises four changing rooms, two officials’ changing rooms and clubroom with bar, kitchen, toilet facilities and storage space. The development also includes external works to the 120-space car park.
All four individuals have strong links with sport in Aylsham and Norfolk. Nigel and Russell have given a number of years’ service to the Canaries and for the Youngs brothers it was a particularly personal event, as the land on which the sporting development has been created was once part of their family farm – hence the name Youngs Park.
The Youngs Community Sports Trust and Aylsham FC worked in partnership with Norfolk FAto secure the grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund. The project also received £50,000 from the Premier League, through the Football Stadia Improvement Fund (FSIF) and £50,000 from Sport England’s Protected Playing Fields.
Additional funding came from Aylsham FC and Broadland District Council. The Youngs family, which includes England rugby scrum half, Ben, and hooker, Tom, plus their father and former England scrum half Nick, gifted the land plus £500,000 as part of a wider housing development agreement.
The Football Foundation worked in partnership with Aylsham FC, The Youngs Community Sports Trust and Norfolk FA to compile a five-year Football Development Plan. This foresees growth in the levels of participation on site as a result of the funding.
Aylsham FC currently have 14 teams and, with the aid of the new facilities, expect to increase to 28 within the life of the plan. The facility will see lots of multi-sport usage, with the site also used by Aylsham Scouts.
The project fits in with a number of local, regional and national strategies and is fully supported by the Norfolk County FA.
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 14,000 grants worth more than £560m towards improving grassroots sport, which it has used to attract additional partnership funding of over £780m – over £1.3bn of investment into the grassroots game.
Since 2000 the Football Foundation Funding Partners’ investment has provided 175 grants worth £7m towards grassroots sports projects worth over £15.7m across the whole of Norfolk.
Norwich City captain and Scottish international defender, Russell Martin, said: “I’m delighted to support the event at Aylsham, which will help provide some great new sporting facilities for the local community in this part of Norfolk. It will provide facilities for local football teams in this area and it’s always good to see grassroots football being supported.”
Nigel Worthington said: “I was delighted to join Russell Martin and Tom and Ben Youngs to officially open the fantastic new sports facility at Youngs Park.
“I am so impressed with the quality of the development, which includes a number of real grass pitches and state-of-the-art changing room facilities which can be used by club members and supporters.
“The improvements are a great example of the commitment the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund has to making these sorts of projects a reality. Without their investment, we would not see the likes of Russell, Ben or Tom coming up through the ranks – it must and always will start at the grassroots.
“I was pleased to see the site full of members of the local community, and look forward to seeing Youngs Park go from strength to strength.”
Tom Youngs said: “Ben and I are delighted to be involved in the official opening of the amazing sporting facility which carries the family name. We’ve seen the facility full of people enjoying themselves and we know this site will make a positive difference to thousands of people of all ages in the coming years.”
Peter McCormick OBE, Football Foundation Trustee and Chairman of the Football Stadia Improvement Fund, said: “The works at Youngs Park will have a significant impact on local grassroots sport in Aylsham. Aylsham FC and The Youngs Community Sports Trust now have an excellent football hub, which includes upgraded real grass pitches, a new clubhouse and changing pavilion and external improvement works. Without the funding from the Premier League, The FA, Government and Sport England, projects like this would not be possible. It is important that money comes down from the elite through to the lower levels of the grassroots. I wish everyone involved at the club all the best for the future.”
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