Former England and Aston Villa star striker, Dion Dublin, yesterday opened Birmingham City Council’s newly-refurbished Rectory Park Pavilion and football pitches.

The new facilities were made possible by a grant of £305,600 from the Football Foundation, the country’s largest sports charity, with further funding coming from Birmingham City Council for pitch improvements.

Dion Dublin, who made a total of 743 appearances in his career, scoring 235 goals, officially opened the doors of the new facilities to the local community. The upgraded sports site in Sutton Coldfield was also welcomed by fellow Football Foundation Ambassador and local resident, Graham Taylor OBE.

The changes have brought the pavilion into the 21st century; whereas the previous pavilion was outdated, and had no segregated changing, the extensively refurbished pavilion now boasts a new state-of-the-art contemporary interior, including four separate self-contained football changing rooms built to Football Foundation specifications, improved electrics and heating, and locker items for storage.

A full football development plan was produced part of the application to the Football Foundation. The new facilities will enable the Sutton and District Sunday League to achieve Charter Standard League Status by year two of the plan, and to increase in the number of teams in its competition from 97 to 120 by year five. The site will also be a vital component to Birmingham County FA’s work to support the retention of adult males in 11 v 11 football in the area.

Funded by the Premier League, The FA, and the Government (via Sport England), the Football Foundation is the country’s largest sports charity. Birmingham Council worked in partnership with the Birmingham County FA to secure investment from the Foundation.

Football Foundation Ambassador, Dion Dublin, said: “It was a real pleasure to officially open these new changing rooms for people in this part of Birmingham.

“Football is our national game so it is only right that the players and volunteers at the grassroots should have somewhere comfortable to get changed and shower before and after matches.

“I am delighted to see this facility has benefited from investment from the Football Foundation’s funding partners – the Premier League, The FA and the Government. When I played for Villa it was not too far from here, so it’s particularly nice to see this site receiving this major boost.”

The new site has also been warmly welcomed by local resident and Dion’s fellow Football Foundation Ambassador, Graham Taylor OBE, who commented: “It is smashing to see the changing rooms at the Rectory Park Pavilion get a much-needed makeover with Football Foundation cash.

“It is a popular local sports venue so the upgraded pavilion, and the improved grass pitches, will make a major difference to the teams that play there.”

Councillor Ian Ward, Birmingham City Council Deputy Leader, added: “This is great news for the teams who already use the facilities but it will also encourage others to take up sport.

“The support from the Football Foundation, along with the council’s own funding, will mean better, fit-for-purpose facilities which will encourage more varied use of the building. The introduction of separate changing rooms increases the potential to have women's football on site as well, which hasn’t been possible in the past.”

Since it was launched in 2000, the Foundation, and its partner organisation, the Football Stadia Improvement Fund, have invested £15m into 105 separate grassroots sport projects across Birmingham.

For more information about the work the Football Foundation is doing all over the country visit www.footballfoundation.org.uk or follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/FootballFoundtn.