Date published: 14/04/2016
Left to Right: Dave Singleton (Bolton Lads and Girls Club Chair), Mark Lawrenson, Karen Edwards OBE (Bolton Lads and Girls Club Chief Executive), Sam Allardyce, and Mike Peers (Bolton Lads and Girls Club Vice-Chair and Project Manager)
Former Bolton Wanderers FC Manager, Sam Allardyce, was joined by legendary Liverpool defender, Mark Lawrenson, to officially open Bolton Lads and Girls Club’s new £1.8m sports facility on Tuesday. The projects received a grant of £400,000 from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which is delivered by the Football Foundation.
The facility includes a new floodlit third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch (AGP) and a state-of-the-art sports pavilion, which comprises: four changing rooms with disability access; two officials’ changing rooms; a community learning room; kitchen and office space.
The funding enabled Bolton Lads and Girls Club to transform its former natural turf playing field and 60-year-old club hut into a contemporary, multi-sport facility, which will benefit Bolton’s young people through access to football, cricket, rounders and hockey provisions. The works also included the levelling and draining of two small-sided grass pitches and new car parking facilities.
The club worked in partnership with the Lancashire FA to secure funding and produce a five-year football development plan (FDP), which is a vision for sports participation at the site. Over the next five years, the amount of football played at the site is expected to double, with the Bolton Wanderers Community Trust delivering a number of community initiatives at the site. Bolton Wanderers FC’s Academy Scouts will also use the facility to identify players for their teams.
The event saw a return to Bolton for the current Sunderland AFC Manager, who took time out from the hectic Premier League run-in to show his support for the grassroots game in an area close to his heart following eight years in charge of the Trotters. Mark Lawrenson – who was part of the dominant Liverpool side of the 1980s, winning a European Cup, FA Cup and five League titles – helped Allardyce snip the ribbon at the facility, which is hoping to produce the next generation of North West football stars.
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 14,200 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 727 grants worth £18.2m towards grassroots sports projects worth over £57.9m across the whole of Lancashire. The project also received £500,000 from Sport England’s Improvement Fund.
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
Sam Allardyce said: “This fantastic new facility will be a real asset to the area; it is a brilliant site that will give local young people a better opportunity to play sport. Investment in grassroots facilities such as this is imperative as improving the sports provision for local communities has to be a priority. The Football Foundation deserves great credit for investing into important projects like this in areas where they will have the biggest impact.”
Mark Lawrenson said: “I was thrilled to be a part of the opening of this new sports complex. It’s incredibly important that there are proper facilities in grassroots football to allow for more young players to break into the professional game. It’s great to see the Football Foundation, using money from the Premier League, The FA and the Government through Sport England, add to their great work across the country since 2000.”
Mike Peers, Vice-Chairman of Bolton Lads and Girls Club, and Project Manager, said: “We would like to thank Sam Allardyce and Mark Lawrenson for officially opening our new Sports Facility, and are very grateful to the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, for allowing us to continue to provide the very best sports facilities for young people and the wider community, and to really strengthen grassroots sport in the borough.”
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 Bolton Lads and Girls Club to upgrade their new BLGC Sports Facility. This development will provide a real boost to sport in the local area, and a huge thanks must go to Sam Allardyce and Mark Lawrenson for taking time out to officially open the new facility.
“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 Bolton 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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