Shailesh Vara, MP for North West Cambridgeshire, officially opened Stilton Parish Council’s changing room pavilion at the Village Playing Field recently (Saturday 18 February 2017). The project was made possible thanks to grants from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which is delivered by the Football Foundation, and the Premier League, through the Football Stadia Improvement Fund (FSIF), the largest funders of non-league football in the country.
The new changing room pavilion, which is projected to increase sports participation by 71%, will accommodate Stilton Primary School and local grassroots sides, Stilton United Colts FC and Stilton United FC, who due to the previous lack of accessible changing provision, have not played at the Village Playing Field since 2003.
The works, which include natural grass pitch improvements, have ensured Stilton United Colts FC can continue to compete as a club, with their league status previously threatened by their lack of suitable home facilities.
The new facility will be used for a number of sports, including yoga, pilates and ‘Clubbercise’, and by a number of local community groups, including: Stilton Carpet Bowls Club, Stilton Table Tennis Club and the IRIS School of Dance. The new facility comprises: two team changing rooms; an officials’ changing room; clubhouse; community room; kitchen facilities and spectator toilets.
As part of the project planning, Stilton Parish Council worked alongside the Football Foundation and Huntingdonshire FA to compile a five-year Football Development Plan (FDP) – a long-term vision of how sport will be played at the Village Playing Field. The FDP is projected to create five local teams, with Stilton United Colts FC to run a mini-soccer centre on-site that will help boost local participation in youth football.
The project was made possible thanks to a £75,184 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which is delivered by the Football Foundation, and a £50,000 grant from the Premier League, through the Football Stadia Improvement Fund.
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 £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.
Funded with £5.2m each year from the Premier League, the FSIF is the country’s largest provider of grants towards projects that help improve the comfort and safety of lower league football grounds in both the professional and amateur game. These improvements range from new football stands and turnstiles to floodlighting and improved provision for disabled supporters.
Since 2000 the Football Foundation Funding Partners’ investment has provided 94 grants worth £3.5m towards grassroots sports projects worth over £8.2m across the whole of Huntingdonshire.
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.
Opening the new facility, Shailesh Vara, MP for North West Cambridgeshire, said: “These grassroots sports facilities are so important to our local communities, allowing people to play sport and stay healthy. This changing room pavilion will used by such a large – and diverse – number of groups, it’s fantastic knowing the facilities will be enjoyed by so many Stilton residents.
“Grants from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, and the Premier League, through the Football Stadia Improvement Fund, have enabled all of this to come together and I’d like to thank them for their generous investment, and of course too, Stilton Parish Council, for all their tremendous hard work in getting this facility up and running.”
Olive Main, Chair of Stilton Parish Council, said: “This has been an incredibly difficult project to deliver and we are so grateful to Shailesh Vara MP for his support over the years and for taking time out to open our pavilion. We have now delivered a ‘state-of-the-art’ facility to our community and we are indebted to the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, and the Football Stadia Improvement Fund, for their contributions.
“Everyone in Stilton is excited about the new opportunities this facility will deliver. Our football clubs are doing a wonderful job promoting their sport and sports participation in Stilton is set to grow enormously.”
Peter McCormick OBE, Chairman of the Football Stadia Improvement Fund, said: “It’s great to see the sports facilities at Stilton Pavilion boosted through the building of their new changing rooms. These types of facilities are invaluable for grassroots clubs, ensuring they have the necessary physical infrastructure to help more people play football, and to engage local fans among their community.
“This is another fantastic project supported by the Premier League, through the FSIF, whose continued investment ensures the development of grassroots football right across the country.”
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 Stilton Parish Council to construct a new pavilion offering activities hall, community room, kitchen and changing rooms. This development will provide a real boost to sport in the local area.
“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 Stilton 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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