FC Elmstead officially opened a new state-of-the-art clubhouse at Chislehurst Recreation Ground in Bromley recently (Saturday 27 October).

Their new facility was made possible thanks to investment from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which is delivered by the Football Foundation. Further significant funding and community involvement came from The Friends of Chislehurst Recreation Grounds (FOCRG), The Chislehurst Playing fields Association (CPFA), The Chislehurst Society and the London Marathon Charity Trust.

The grant enabled FC Elmstead, who play in the Southern Counties East Football League at Step 6, to build a brand-new changing pavilion, which includes: two team changing rooms and an officials’ changing room all with en-suite shower facilities, clubroom and café, public toilets with disabled access, an office and a storage area.

In addition to this, the club were able to carry out upgrade works to their grass pitches by improving the levelling and undertaking drainage works to reduce the risk of waterlogging. The new changing pavilion will complement the grass pitches and support the growth of the club by providing a permanent home.

The club was founded in 1958 by David Brown who remains in an active role as Life President. FC Elmstead now has over 300 members and operates 21 teams in total, with 18 junior teams ranging from Under-7 through to Under-17 and three adult teams. The new facilities will benefit all the players at the club as well as local church team, Christchurch Chislehurst and community keep fit club, Bootcamp.

FC Elmstead were awarded a £258,865 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund towards the project. The club worked alongside the Football Foundation and the London FA to compile a five-year Football Development Plan, which is a vision of how sport will be played on site with an emphasis on increasing participation.

It is predicted that the upgraded changing pavilion will result in an increase of over 250 players at the club, which represents a growth of 86%. This will be supported by the formation of 15 new teams across all age groups.

Significant growth in the number of female players using the site is also expected. Seven new women and girls’ teams will help to introduce at least 100 new female players to the club, with particular focus on junior teams below the age of 14.

Since 2000, the Football Foundation Funding Partners’ investment has provided 336 grants worth £24.3m towards grassroots sports projects worth over £55.1m across the whole of London FA. 

Fabio Rossi, General Manager of FC Elmstead, said: “I would like to officially thank the Mayor of Bromley Kim Botting for officially opening the new facilities. There are many partner funders who I would like to thank, especially the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, FOCRG, The Chislehurst Playing fields Association, The Chislehurst Society and the London Marathon Charity Trust. Also, a massive thanks to everybody that contributed in any way at all, big or small.” 

Barbara Arora, Chair of FOCRG and of the CPFA, warmly praised the new pavilion: “This building, complete with small café, provides a fantastic new community asset for Chislehurst.  The Friends have been delighted to have been actively involved with FC Elmstead since its inception and the CPFA has now achieved the aims of its founders back in the 1960s to invest in a playing field and changing rooms for the people of Chislehurst.  We look forward to welcoming more people to our wonderful rec.” 

Councillor Kira Gabbert, Bromley Council’s Executive Assistant for Environment and Community Services said, “We have been pleased to support FC Elmstead as they have gone from strength to strength, with these new facilities supporting further development of the club.  Our parks and open spaces are used for lots of different purposes and Chislehurst Recreation Ground is no exception and it is good to see FC Elmstead working with the Friends of Chislehurst Recreation Ground (FOCRG) in support of the wider Recreation Ground.  I am deeply aware that none of this just ‘happens’ and I applaud the sheer hard work and dedication of all involved.” 

Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said: “Grassroots sport plays an important role in communities across the UK, creating opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds. That is why I am delighted that FC Elmstead has now opened their state-of-the-art pavilion in Chislehurst, thanks to investment from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund. 

“Continuing to improve access to high-quality facilities like this one is a key aim for the Premier League, The FA and the Government. Delivered by the Football Foundation, their funding supports projects for clubs and organisations all over the country and is helping to boost the number of people benefiting from sport through better facilities. 

“Grassroots football provides so many benefits for members of the community, not least of which is the opportunity to enjoy themselves. Love for our national game, something that can be found across the country, is an integral part of what drives the Foundation and its Funding Partners to keep increasing the standards and quality of our facilities.