Scunthorpe United's Paul Musselwhite opens new all weather pitch for baysgarth school

Paul Musselwhite, former Scunthorpe United FC player and the club’s current goalkeeper coach, officially opened a state-of-the-art third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch (AGP) at the Baysgarth School Sports Village recently (Friday 8 December), thanks to a grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which is delivered by the Football Foundation. This is part of a larger project for the school, including the development of a new changing facility. 

The grant has enabled the school, working in partnership with the North Lincolnshire Council, to replace an existing full-size grass pitch with a brand new all-weather playing surface. This joins Baysgarth School’s two other full-size grass pitches, one 9v9 pitch, three Mini-Soccer pitches, a rugby pitch and cricket area. 

The new pitch is helping to meet the local demand for all-weather facilities, which give users much more flexibility when it comes to scheduling training and matches due to being available all-year-round, even in bad weather. The site’s grass pitches are subject to waterlogging and becoming rutted due to heavy usage – the all-weather surface does not suffer from these issues. 

This will benefit not only the school’s pupils, but will also provide local clubs with enough space to train and expand. A host of local clubs will have access to the sports hub and its new addition, including Barton JFC and Barton United JFC, as well as adult teams Barton Broncos FC and Barton Rangers Ladies FC. The North Lincolnshire Council will also use the pitch to deliver On Target sessions, a community outreach programme. 

Baysgarth School the Council worked alongside the Lincolnshire 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. 

Thanks to the increased flexibility provided by the new playing surface, it is expected that nine brand new teams will be established across the facility’s users. This supports a predicted increase in overall football participation of 80% at the site. Additionally, the school has identified increasing female football participation as a key objective, and expect this to rise by 266% thanks to the opportunities that the new pitch will provide. 

Baysgarth School and the North Lincolnshire Council worked in partnership with the Lincolnshire FA to secure a £378,302 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 259 grants worth £11.7m towards grassroots sports projects worth over £29m across the whole of Lincolnshire. 

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. 

Paul Musselwhite, who has been the goalkeeper coach at his former club since 2013, said: “I was really pleased to unveil this brand new all-weather pitch. Having a lot of experience as both a player and a coach, I know the impact that great surfaces like this one can have on the level you can play at. It’s great that the Baysgarth School, its partner clubs and the local community now have access to this new pitch, which is going to have such a positive effect on their game. 

“It’s also really great to see money from the top levels making its way to the grassroots game, which is where everyone starts. Through funding from the Premier League, The FA and the Government, through Sport England, the Football Foundation is delivering great facilities like this all over the country.” 

Chris Wright, Director of Sport for Baysgarth School, said: “The pitch will be a massive boost to the students of Baysgarth School, the local community clubs and those in the Barton area. As a PE faculty the quality of our delivery can improve massively on a surface that offers consistent roll and can be played on in all weathers. We will gain learning hours because of this and the technical quality of football in the area will improve. We are massively excited to have a world class facility situated on our site and we hope that it will inspire our students to achieve at the highest level.” 

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 Baysgarth School Sports Village join thousands of local clubs who have reaped its benefit, in this case through the opening of a 3G AGP. My thanks go to Paul Musselwhite for officially unveiling the facility. 

“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.”