Football Foundation Chairman, Gary Hoffman, was in Islip, Northamptonshire, recently (Saturday 21 May), to officially open Islip Parish Council’s new £365,000 changing pavilion at Tollbar Road Playing Field. Tom Pursglove, MP for Corby and East Northamptonshire, was also in attendance at the opening.

The project was made possible thanks to a £196,000 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which provides grants towards developing new or refurbished grassroots football facilities. Grants were also received from the Premier League through the FSIF (£50,000) and Sport England’s Inspired Facilities Fund (£50,000). Further funding was also received from Islip Parish Council, East Northants Council Communities Fund, Islip Sports Association and WREN.

Prior to these grants the facilities were unsuitable for modern football use, with two steel shipping containers being used as changing rooms. However, the new pavilion now includes two team changing rooms, two officials’ changing rooms, spectator toilet facilities, a club room, and kitchen and storage space. The council also carried out external improvements, including a new site entrance and car park.

Islip Parish Council worked in partnership with the Northamptonshire FA and the Football Foundation to put together a five-year Football Development Plan, which is a vision for how sport will be played on site. The Plan foresees all partner clubs retaining if not increasing the number of teams they have. By the end of the plan, an Under-21 team and a veteran’s team will both have been started, and the site will see increased numbers of mixed teams.

The main partner club using the facility is Thrapston Town Juniors FC, who play at Step 7 of the Northants Combination League, Division One. Other clubs include: Thrapston Warriors Juniors FC; Burton Utd FC; Sargents FC; Thrapston Cricket Club and Thrapston Junior Cricket Club.

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 14,200 grants worth more than £560m towards improving grassroots sport, which it has used to attract additional partnership funding of over £787m – over £1.3bn of investment into the grassroots game.

Since 2000 the Football Foundation Funding Partners’ investment has provided 178 grants worth £7.5m towards grassroots sports projects worth over £15m across the whole of Northamptonshire.

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.

Funded with £5.2m each year from the Premier League, the FSIF is the country’s largest provider of grants towards projects that help improve the comfort and safety of lower league football grounds in both the professional and amateur game. These improvements range from new football stands and turnstiles to floodlighting and improved provision for disabled supporters.

Tom Pursglove, MP for Corby and East Northamptonshire, said: “I was delighted to attend the official opening of Islip Sports Pavilion. The new facility was full of members of the community and amateur clubs from the surrounding areas all enjoying grassroots sport.

“Developing sports facilities, like this one in Islip, is vital to increasing participation levels and improving the health and well-being of local people. Therefore I must thank the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund and the Football Stadia Improvement Fund for their investment, which helped to make the Islip Sports Pavilion a reality. I also pay tribute to Richard Maxwell and his team, for all of their sterling efforts in helping to get this important project off the ground – the new pavilion is a massive improvement on the former shipping containers!"

Gary Hoffman, Chairman of the Football Foundation, said: “It was a real pleasure to open the new pavilion at Tollbar Road Playing Fields. The facility will provide a much-updated home for several local grassroots football clubs to enjoy training sessions and matches at. Funding from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, through the Football Foundation, has made this project a reality. It is a fine example of the tangible improvements that investment from the very top of the game is making at the very lowest levels of the sport.

“It is vitally important that amateur clubs, just like Thrapston Juniors FC, have proper facilities to train and play at, not just so that the grassroots game can continue to produce home grown talent for the future, but so that thousands of local people can stay fit and healthy by playing football purely for the love of doing so. I would like to thank everyone involved with this development for their hard work and wish them all the best for the future.”

Peter McCormick OBE, Chairman of the Football Stadia Improvement Fund, said: “I am pleased to see the new pavilion at Toll Bar Road Playing Fields officially opened. The facility will provide a safe environment that meets the needs of Burton United FC, Thrapston JFC and the wider community. This development is another example of the Premier League’s commitment to improving facilities for clubs at all levels of the football pyramid. I would like to thank everyone involved with the project for their hard work in making the pavilion a reality, and I look forward to seeing the site go from strength to strength as a result of this funding.”

Bob Lymn, Chairman of Islip Parish Council, said: “The combination of the funding received to make this project happen, coupled with the exceptional work of a team of volunteers, has guaranteed facilities for sport in Islip, of the highest quality, and for many years to come. I would like to thank Football Foundation Chairman, Gary Hoffman, for officially opening the facility.”