New 3G pitch and athletics training facility opens in Gateshead to boost grassroots sport
A state-of-the-art floodlit third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch (AGP) and athletics track was officially opened by Gateshead Council in Blaydon recently (Thursday 21 November).
The new pitch was made possible thanks to investment from the Premier League, The FA and Government's Football Foundation, as well as contributions from Sport England and Gateshead Council.
After netting a £376,324 grant from the Football Foundation, work begun on the site in May 2019. The grant has enabled Gateshead Council, who operate Blaydon Leisure Centre, to transform the outdoor sports provision into a modern facility that will become a community sport and footballing hub.
The new 3G pitch replaces an old sand-based surface to help counteract the shortfall of 3G pitches in the local area. In addition to this, the World Athletics standard running track around the pitch replaces a cinder track which had reached the end of its usable life.
Durham County FA identified Blaydon as a priority site investment. With only two full-size 3G pitches in Gateshead to service over 250 affiliated clubs, the refurbishment of the site will help to meet demand and reduce overplay on existing grass pitches.
The pitch was rarely used for football and sessions often had to be cancelled both on the pitch and the track due to bad weather.
Partner clubs Whickham Fellside Youth Football Club (YFC), Winlaton YFC, Blaydon YFC and Swalwell Juniors will all benefit from the new pitch along with the Gateshead Apollo Youth League and Newcastle United Foundation.
As well as the site being used for football training and competition, Blaydon Harriers and Athletics club and Ryton Triathlon club will continue to use the site for their weekly training. Go Gateshead’s Active Communities Officers will work in partnership with Durham County FA to deliver walking football sessions and Newcastle United Foundation to deliver holiday activities. The site will be open for the whole community to use and will cover all age ranges from pre-school age to the over 60’s.
Councillor Linda Green, Cabinet Member for Communities and Volunteering, Gateshead Council said: “I am very excited about the opening of the the new outdoor sports facilities at Blaydon Leisure and Primary Care Centre and how it will benefit the whole community.
“With the support of the Premier League, The FA and Government’s funding through the Football Foundation these state-of-the-art facilities will be used by a wide range of voluntary sports clubs which will improve and increase grassroots sport opportunities in Gateshead.”
Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said: “The support of the Premier League, The FA and government enables the Football Foundation to help improve community sports facilities like this one across the country. Their funding has played a key role in delivering this new all-weather pitch in Blaydon and I am delighted for everyone associated with Gateshead Council.
“This is one example we want to make people in Blaydon aware of, that they have the kind of quality pitches and changing rooms that are taken for granted in other cities. We will continue to support projects nationwide, but we cannot do this on our own, so we are encouraging organisations in the area to join our movement to deliver quality football facilities for people in Blaydon once and for all.
“Taking part in community sport at any level offers many benefits and rewards, not least the opportunity for people to enjoy themselves and socialise with different members of the community.”
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