Graham Evans, MP for Weaver Vale, officially unveiled Cheshire West and Chester Council’s new third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch (AGP) at Hartford High School recently (Tuesday 15 November 2016). The project was made possible thanks to a grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which is delivered by the Football Foundation, and was welcomed by Gary Neville, Manchester United FC legend and Football Foundation Ambassador.
The new 3G pitch will be used throughout the Hartford community by local schools, teams and grassroots clubs, including: Hartford High School, Mid Cheshire College, Northwich Victoria FC and Hartford FC.
Through this project, Cheshire West and Chester Council have established a five-year Football Development Plan (FDP) – a long-term vision for how sport will be played at the new facility – alongside the Football Foundation and Cheshire FA. As part of this FDP, The FA will host a number of its programmes on-site, including Team 16, Mash Up and Just Play, that all focus on increasing participation across a range of different ages, abilities and social groups.
The £612,268 project was made possible thanks to a £257,268 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which provides grants towards new or refurbished grassroots sports facilities. It is funded by the Premier League, The FA, and the Government, via Sport England, and is delivered by the Football Foundation, the country’s largest sports charity. The project received further funding from Cheshire West and Chester Council, Hartford High School and Mid Cheshire College, with Active Cheshire also providing support.
Since it was launched in 2000, the Football Foundation has awarded around 15,000 grants worth nearly £580m towards improving grassroots sport, which it has used to attract additional partnership funding of just under £800m – over £1.4bn of investment into the grassroots game.
Since 2000, the Football Foundation Funding Partners’ investment has provided 309 grants worth £15.3m towards grassroots sports projects worth over £35m across the whole of Cheshire.
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.
The project was welcomed by Football Foundation Ambassador, Gary Neville, who commented: “I am delighted to see Cheshire’s sporting infrastructure boosted through Hartford High School’s new 3G pitch. People of all ages and abilities will now be to able learn new skills and enjoy their sport at this first-class facility.
“My role as Football Foundation Ambassador enables me to see the massive difference these types of facilities make to their local communities. By developing new changing rooms and pitches like this one up and down the country, people are able to reap all of sport’s physical, mental and social benefits.
“Here in the North West, you really do see that football is very much a part of our culture and identity. It provides an opportunity for youngsters to hone their skills, make the most of their ability, and even in some cases, make it into the professional game.
“I want to congratulate Cheshire West and Chester Council for working with the Football Foundation to secure the grant from Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund that has helped to develop this excellent facility. A brilliant job all round!”
Graham Evans, MP for Weaver Vale, said: “I really enjoyed helping open the new 3G pitch here at Hartford High School today. The facility is of the highest standard and will act as an important sports hub within the local community for years to come.
“You can see how much enjoyment the students gained from just a single session on the pitch. These grassroots sports facilities are vital to their broader development because they allow youngsters to reap the various physical, mental and social benefits attached to sport, while helping promote healthy lifestyles.
“I’d like to thank the tremendous efforts of the school and council, who have worked together in partnership with the Football Foundation to ensure the long-term success of this project. Importantly too, I’d like to thank the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund for their vital financial support that ensures the continued development of grassroots sport right across the country.”
Cllr Louise Gittins, Cabinet Member for Communities and Wellbeing, Cheshire West and Chester Council, said: “This is a fantastic day for community sport in Northwich. Together with the recently-opened 3G pitch at Moss Farm, this new facility will help grassroots sport to thrive by offering even more opportunities for people of all ages to get active.
“I would like to thank all the partners who have worked together to deliver both the Hartford and Moss Farm pitches. The project is a great example of the Council’s commitment to invest in inclusive leisure and culture to make our borough a great place to live and visit.”
Steve Stewart, General Manager, Cheshire FA, said: “This is an outstanding example of how collaboration and teamwork can bring excellent results! The Football Foundation and the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund have once again demonstrated their commitment to the continued development of grassroots football. Cheshire West and Chester Council – in conjunction with Hartford High School and Mid Cheshire College – can be justifiably proud of their vision and leadership in driving this project forward.
“I have no doubt that that this fantastic facility will help enrich the lives of not only the students – but the whole community in so many ways.”
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