CEO Blog: PitchPower key to improving the nation's grass pitches
Football Foundation CEO, Robert Sullivan, talks all things grass pitches in his latest blog.
Heading into this FIFA men’s World Cup in Qatar feels out of the ordinary for many reasons but in the weeks ahead, whilst the sun shines on the immaculate playing pitches of Qatar, our work to improve facilities will focus on supporting the groundskeepers who are responsible for managing the thousands of grassroots football pitches up and down this country.
Here at the Football Foundation, along with our Funding Partners, The Premier League, The FA and Government, we have a very clear purpose – to unlock the power of pitches to transform lives and communities.
To do this we deliver outstanding grassroots football facilities to ensure more games get played, better games get played and more players play. We know that having more opportunities to play, supports not only physical health, but mental wellbeing, community cohesion and the local economy too.
However, with just one in three grassroots pitches currently rated as ‘good’, players are not getting the pitches they need and deserve. Grassroots football clubs consistently tell us that grass pitches are their biggest issue, not only do poor pitches act as a barrier to people playing, they also make playing football less enjoyable, and lead to around 150,000 games a season at grassroots clubs getting called off because pitches are unplayable.
We have set ourselves a target of delivering the support needed to grassroots clubs the length and breadth of the country to reach 20,000 'good' quality grass pitches by 2030, with the first 7,000 to be reached by 2024.
As well as looking out for regular tips and advice on Football Foundation social media channels, to support the improvement of pitches, groundskeepers at clubs and organisations that are responsible for maintaining a grass pitch should sign up to the Football Foundation’s free revolutionary grass pitch inspection web app, PitchPower.
The free web app which is accessible to all, enables clubs, leagues, local authorities, schools and organisations to complete a pitch inspection and get access to funding. PitchPower allows clubs to easily and quickly submit accurate data which is less time intensive and more efficient than in person inspections. Once an inspection is submitted, Regional Pitch Advisers at the Grounds Management Association produce an assessment report with bespoke advice and recommendations to improve the grass pitch quality at a site.
If the pitches aren’t up to scratch, eligible clubs and organisations can then apply for funding from the Football Foundation to support pitch improvements identified through the PitchPower web app. A quick and straightforward way to get started on improving pitches right at your fingertips!
Since October 2020 PitchPower has helped to inspect over 11,000 pitches. These inspections have led to over 1000 grants being issued worth £28m towards over 4000 pitches.
When we reach our target by 2030 not only will it mean an additional 30,000 games of football will be able to take place every weekend but it will be a better playing experience for all - that’s more pitches supporting all those who lace up their boots on a wet and windy Saturday morning in November or a sunny Sunday afternoon in July.
Let’s hope the men’s England team follow the example of our brilliant Lionesses and inspire future generations to play and love the game on the brilliant pitches they deserve.
To find out more about PitchPower, visit https://footballfoundation.org.uk/power-up-your-grass-pitch.