Jamie Redknapp unveils brand new all weather pitch for Leatherhead Youth FC
Jamie Redknapp, former England and Tottenham Hotspur FC midfielder, officially opened Leatherhead Youth FC’s state-of-the-art third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch (AGP) in Surrey recently (Sunday 12 November). The project was made possible thanks to a grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which is delivered by the Football Foundation.
The grant has enabled Leatherhead Youth FC to replace an existing grass pitch, which could no longer support the high levels of use, with a brand new all-weather pitch. This joins the club’s two 11v11 grass pitches, one 9v9 pitch and three Mini-Soccer pitches.
This will benefit the club’s 400 players across its 30 teams, which range from Under-7 to Under-21 level. The new 3G AGP will also be used by St John’s School and Leatherhead FC, as well as other local schools and organisations.
Leatherhead Youth FC worked alongside the Surrey FA and the Football Foundation 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.
The club hopes to introduce five new teams, which will support a boost in football participation by 339% in those aged between 14 and 25 at the site. Leatherhead Youth FC, which has teams playing across a number of leagues including the Epsom and Elwell Youth Football League and the Surrey Youth League, also hopes to link with Mole Valley Girls FC to increase the number of girls’ teams locally.
The club worked in partnership with the Surrey FA to secure a £457,212 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund.
Founded in 2000, the Football Foundation is the largest sports charity in the UK funded by the Premier League, The FA and Government, via Sport England. It develops new and refurbished grassroots sports facilities in order to improve the quality and experience of playing sport at the grassroots level. Since it was launched in 2000, the Foundation has awarded around 15,000 grants worth more than £580m towards improving grassroots sport, which it has used to attract additional partnership funding of over £800m – £1.4bn of investment into the grassroots game.
Since 2000, the Football Foundation Funding Partners’ investment has provided 287 grants worth £12.1m towards grassroots sports projects worth over £25.1m across the whole of Surrey.
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. Many of the new state-of-the-art facilities will serve to strengthen the connection between professional football clubs and their local communities, particularly in the most deprived areas of the country, through the professional clubs’ community trusts’ outreach work.
Jamie Redknapp, who scored 30 goals for Liverpool FC during his time with the club, said: “I was really pleased to be asked to unveil Leatherhead Youth FC’s new all-weather pitch. Living locally, I know how much grassroots football means to this area so it’s fantastic to see this pitch open. It’s going to encourage so many more people to get involved in the game.
“I have been lucky enough to train at some amazing facilities in my career, so I can speak to the benefits this new surface will have for the club. You can train any time all-year-round on these pitches, which gives clubs so much more flexibility.
“It is really important for money from the top of the game to make its way down to lower levels, to improve football for everyone. The Football Foundation are doing a great job of channelling the investment of the Premier League, The FA and the Government, through Sport England, into providing great facilities like this all over England.”
Nick Brown, General Manager of Leatherhead Youth FC, said: “It is great to have officially opened our new facility, and I’d like to thank Jamie Redknapp for taking the time to unveil it. Being able to bring a facility like this to our ground, with support from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, has really enabled us to grow the club and allowed the level of football played within our grassroots club to improve.”
Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said: “The Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund provides the investment necessary to improve grassroots football facilities. So, I am delighted to see Leatherhead Youth FC join thousands of local clubs who have reaped its benefit, in this case through the opening of a new 3G AGP. My thanks go to Jamie Redknapp for doing the honours and unveiling the new pitch.
“Having delivered over £1.4bn of grassroots sports infrastructure projects, the Football Foundation has developed a network of accessible, first-class facilities in areas they will have the greatest impact – thanks to money from the Premier League, The FA and the Government via Sport England.
“These facilities are more than places to play football at, these facilities are hubs of physical activity, the bedrock of local communities and ‘homes from home’ for so many who also use them as social outlets to learn new skills, gain work experience and other qualifications.”