Football legend Ian Wright starts work on the Rocky and Wrighty Arena
Ian Wright broke ground at his former primary school in Lewisham yesterday to mark the start of the construction of the “Rocky and Wrighty Arena”.
The small-sided 3G football turf pitch being installed at Turnham Academy pays tribute to Ian’s much-loved friend David “Rocky” Rocastle who grew up with Ian on the Honor Oak Estate which overlooks the pitch. Having honed their football skills on the concrete pitches at the school, the two went on to play alongside each other at Arsenal FC.
EA SPORTS joined forces with the Premier League, The FA and Government’s Football Foundation to fund this new facility.
The pitch, which will be ready for action in early 2023, will deliver a much-needed grassroots sports facility in the heart of South London. The site will feature an impressive mural dedicated to Ian Wright and David Rocastle designed by local artist Lionel Stanhope.
Ian Wright said: “Witnessing the start of this development is surreal. This is not just an ordinary pitch. It’s a tribute to someone dear to me and a safe space for generations to come. Rocky and I grew up playing on small pitches, we’d play anywhere and talk about our dreams of playing professionally. Those dreams started right here at Turnham Academy, I think everyone knows what this school and my teacher Mr Pigden mean to me. To be able, with the help of EA SPORTS and the Football Foundation, to make this pitch a reality just means the world to me.
“The Rocky and Wrighty Arena is here, right behind Rocastle Road! It’s here for the school, it’s here for the Honor Oak community and the local clubs that will have access. An incredible amount of work has gone into this project over the last 18 months and I’m very grateful to the Football Foundation and EA SPORTS for really following through on their commitment to grassroots sports and communities around the country.
“I hope the kids at my old school and in my community love every minute they get on this new pitch. I’m excited that so many girls and boys will benefit. There’ll be Premier League Kicks, walking football, Wildcats, Millwall Lionesses’ and Millwall Roman LGBTQ+ sessions, run by the Millwall Community Trust. And programmes for disability groups, thanks to a partnership with South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust. It’ll also be the training ground for Hillyfielders FC Mini Soccer teams, who help girls and boys develop through football.”
Robert Sullivan CEO Football Foundation said: “Thanks to the investment of the Premier League, The FA and Government better grassroots football facilities, like this one at Turnham Academy, are having a transformative impact on people’s physical and mental health, bringing communities together and benefiting local economies across England.
“Ian’s desire to get this facility in place at Turnham Academy is admirable, and it’s clear he can see how football can help to transform lives.
"The Rocky and Wrighty Arena is going to be an amazing facility for the community here in Honor Oak and the Football Foundation is delighted to be funding this alongside EA SPORTS."
David Jackson, VP, EA SPORTS Brand, said: “We’re really proud to be involved in this project and whilst the work is just starting, we can’t wait to see the pitch being used by the local community once completed.
“At EA SPORTS, we’re committed to supporting football at every level and this is a brilliant grassroots initiative to be a part of. Alongside the school and all the teams who intend to use this pitch, we hope that it can also inspire a new generation of creators, with a safe space in their local area to express themselves.
“We’re thrilled to be supporting this opportunity alongside Ian Wright, Premier League, The FA and the Football Foundation and through this, being able to celebrate both Ian and the late, great David Rocastle.”
Lionel Stanhope, Mural Artist says: “I’m excited and really proud to be part of this important local project, which will give kids a modern space to play all year round. To be asked to bring two Turnham Academy legends – Rocky and Wrighty, to life in my artwork is something special that I’ll remember forever."
Richard Piggford, Head of School at Turnham Academy said: “The Rocky and Wrighty Arena will make a huge difference within our local community. Many of our existing community partnerships will benefit greatly from this facility, and we cannot thank Ian enough for his passion and desire to make this project happen and the funding from the Football Foundation and EA SPORTS.
“This new facility will allow Turnham Academy, and the wider STEP Academy Trust community to closely work with new and existing partners – to further improve the opportunities and therefore the life chances of the children within the community we proudly serve. Many local boys and girls will use the facility weekly with their local grass roots clubs, content creators in South London will have a new exciting space to work and of course our students will reap the benefits of the facility being built on our site, giving us an additional all-weather space we can use all year round.
“Finally, we are delighted that there will be a permanent fixture to both Ian Wright and David Rocastle on the site where it all began for them, and we very much look forward to welcoming Ian and David’s family back to Turnham when the facility is complete.”
The facility, which is due to open in early 2023, is part of the Football Foundation’s ongoing work to transform local football facilities across England.