Date published: 10/12/2014
Sir Alex Ferguson CBE, one of football’s greatest ever managers, was back in Manchester recently to officially open five state-of-the-art third generation (3G) artificial grass pitches (AGP) at the Manchester Enterprise Academy. The project, which cost £215,000 in total, was made possible thanks to a £107,075 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which provides grants towards developing new or refurbished grassroots football facilities.
Sir Alex, who won 38 trophies during his 26 year tenure at Manchester United, cut the ribbon at the new facility. The previous sand-based pitches were over fifteen years old and had deteriorated significantly, with the pitches waterlogging following any period of sustained rainfall. However, thanks to significant investment from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, the Manchester Enterprise Academy now has five high quality playing surfaces which can sustain year-round use by the school and local community.
The Manchester United Foundation are heavily involved with the project and will use the site to deliver the bulk of their community programme in South Manchester. Weekly Premier League Kicks sessions are run at the site, which will also act as a central venue for the development of small sided football in Manchester.
Additionally, the venue provides a valuable training facility for a number of local grassroots clubs, including Wythenshawe Town FC, Sporting St John JFC and Benchill Celtic FC. There will be a particular emphasis placed upon the development of girls’ football. In total, there is expected to be a 79% increase in the number of women and girls using the site on a weekly basis.
Manchester Enterprise Academy and the Manchester United Foundation worked in partnership with the Manchester FA to secure a £107,075 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities 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 13,000 grants worth more than £510m towards improving grassroots sport, which it has used to attract additional partnership funding of over £719m – over £1.2bn of investment into the grassroots game.
Since 2000 the Football Foundation Funding Partners’ investment has provided 107 grants worth £13.3m towards grassroots sports projects worth over £28.7m across the whole of Manchester.
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.
Sir Alex Ferguson CBE, said: “These new 3G playing surfaces at the Manchester Enterprise Academy are first class. They will get more people playing the game and help to develop local talent.
“I’m delighted that a grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which is delivered by the Football Foundation, has helped to fund these new pitches. Over the years I have opened several of these types of pitch that the Football Foundation has funded with cash from the Premier League, The FA, the Government and Sport England.
“Clearly playing football on these types of surface is going to be a far more attractive prospect for youngsters than a quagmire, so they help to get more people playing the game purely for pleasure. But it will also help youngsters in this part of Manchester hone their skills and improve their technical development, which would certainly be hampered by having to play on a boggy, water-logged pitch. The Manchester United Foundation will also be able to use this site to deliver their excellent outreach programmes.
“So who knows, we may see another golden generation of talented youngsters developed here as a result. The school and everyone that has worked hard to get this new facility developed deserve huge credit for what they’ve achieved.”
James Eldon, Principal, Manchester Enterprise Academy, said: “We are thrilled to be able to offer a first class facility to our students and the wider community. The pitches are outstanding and we are very excited to see Manchester Enterprise Academy, with help from the Manchester United Foundation, develop into a major hub for football development and coaching in the North West. I would like to thank Sir Alex Ferguson for giving up his time to officially open the new pitches and also the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund and the Wythenshawe Community Housing Group for their generous contribution to this project.”
Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, added: “The Football Foundation is responsible for managing and delivering the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which is funded by the Premier League, The FA and the Government, via Sport England. These 3G pitches are a great example of the positive impact that this funding is having on our grassroots game. First-class facilities like this are crucial to creating more opportunities for local people to enjoy regular sport. I’d also like to thank Sir Alex Ferguson for taking time out to officially open the new pitch.”
“Aided by the Manchester FA, the Manchester Enterprise Academy deserves huge credit for taking a vision and turning it into a reality, using funding provided by the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund. Sport has the power to make a positive impact on the health of communities and this wonderful new facility will improve the sporting experience of local people and encourage them to be more active.”
For more information contact:
• Karen Scrace on 07738 789 499 or K.Scrace@meacad.org.uk
• Bradley Cleveland on 0845 345 4555 Ext: 4282 or firstname.lastname@example.org