SKY’S THE LIMIT FOR YOUNGSTERS AS JEFF STELLING OPENS SCHOOL’S STUNNING NEW SPORTS FACILITY
Sky Sports presenter, Jeff Stelling, officially opened a new third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch (AGP) on behalf of the Matthew Arnold School this week.
Jeff, who hosts Sky’s popular Soccer Saturday football show, was on hand to cut a ribbon at the entrance to the pitch, before watching a training session lead by pupils who gained their coaching qualifications on the very same surface.
Also in attendance were Chelsea Ladies duo Drew Spence and Hannah Blundell who both joined in a training session which was led by coaches from the Chelsea Foundation, who also run a unique BTEC academic and football programme in association with Matthew Arnold College Academy.
The Staines-based school, which is also home to a sports centre of the same name that has been a hub of community sport for the last 17 years, is the only site in the borough that provides a year-round football facility in the form of their 3G AGP, which was made possible thanks to a Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund grant of £254,438.
In addition to the full-size 3G AGP, the site also boasts a smaller 3G AGP which the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund helped to refurbish with an £88,000 grant. The work also included replacing the existing fencing and the instillation of sports equipment.
Thanks to investment from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund the school is continuing to grow and develop football on-site in partnership with local clubs and the Middlesex County FA. It is also providing further provision for disability football, and children’s football for those between the ages of five and seven.
The new and refurbished pitches were funded by the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund. Funded by the Premier League, The FA, and the Government, via Sport England, the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund is delivered by the Football Foundation, the country’s largest sports charity. Since it was launched in 2000, the Foundation has supported more than 12,000 grassroots projects worth over £1 billion.
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.
Since 2000 the Football Foundation has worked with the Middlesex FA on 100 grassroots projects, meaning that the county has benefitted from £14.3m worth of its Funding Partners’ investment. The Foundation has used this funding to leverage a further £31.3m in partnership funding, thus maximising the investment into grassroots across the county.
Jeff Stelling said: “This is a really wonderful facility; it’s a high-quality space to play football on all year-round. Sites like this are crucial to improving the grassroots game and enabling more people to play the game – and that can only help us develop the next generation of home-grown talent.”
Roland Davey, Assistant Head Teacher at Matthew Arnold School, said: “This facility is absolutely invaluable to the school; I don’t know what we did before we had it. Both pitches are used day-in day-out for everything from P.E. lessons to league matches, to coaching assessments for our pupils. Thanks must go to the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund for helping to make all of this happen.”
Hannah Blundell, Chelsea Ladies defender, said: “It's fantastic to come down and see this brilliant new facility. The Chelsea Foundation work closely with Matthew Arnold and having this additional surface, due to the additional funding, is a big boost to the boys and girls who will get to use it on a regular basis.”