Students in South West London are celebrating the official opening of the new sports facilities at Raynes Park High School that will provide a venue for extensive PE and extracurricular activities and for three local schools. The £1.3m project was made possible thanks to a grant from the Football Foundation, the country’s largest sports charity.

The new sports facility comprises of; two full-size football pitches, a junior pitch, two cricket squares, and an athletics and running track including facilities for long-jump, triple-jump, shot, discus and javelin. A changing pavilion has also been constructed, consisting of four high-quality changing and shower rooms and a multi-use room for indoor activities, such as training sessions and social events.

Former Wimbledon FC and Liverpool FC defender, and Football Foundation Ambassador, John Scales, presented the school with the Football Foundation cheque for £339,364 in August 2010. He was joined at by two famous former Raynes Park High pupils, Charlton Athletic FC Manager, Chris Powell and former Wimbledon team mate and current Manchester City Scout, John Gannon.

Standing to benefit are Raynes Park High School, West Wimbledon Primary School and Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School: the ground is already being used effectively throughout the week by Raynes Park High School, both for PE lessons and for extra-curricular use, with the other two schools in the process of planning their timetables but soon to follow suit.

During the summer months, the schools will use the ground for track and field events, including long-jump, triple-jump, shot, discus and javelin. Raynes Park High School is eagerly anticipating its first Sports Day at the new ground in July 2014, where over 1,000 students will take part in competitive events, winning sought-after points for their House as part of the friendly inter-house rivalry that is a long-standing tradition of the school since its inception in 1935.

Extra-curricular activities are an important part of the enrichment programme that the schools provide for their students as they offer the opportunity to explore and develop talents and interests, to learn self-discipline and control and to build relationships and teams with their peers. The new sports facilities gives the students the opportunity to play football on full-size grass pitches – many have only previously experienced the feel of artificial turf under their feet from playing on the school’s Astroturf.

Additionally, the new facilities will provide members of the local community and clubs to develop and showcase their football skills on top-quality grass pitches.