Sky’s the limit now countdown is over for Henry Beaufort School – TV’s Jeff Stelling opens new 3G pitch

Jeff Stelling, Sky Sports and Countdown presenter, officially opened the new state-of-the-art playing surface at Henry Beaufort School, Winchester. He was the guest of honour at the celebration event, which included a reception with members of the local community, the formal opening and a staff-versus-former pupils football match.

The Football Foundation’s grant of £342,377, combined with funding of £130,000 from Winchester City Council, has made a major contribution to the funding of the £600,000 floodlit third generation artificial grass pitch and accessible changing facilities.

Henry Beaufort is an established Community School and aims to create a community centre of excellence for youth football for all. The Winchester area was desperately short of all-weather training facilities suitable for football so this state-of-the-art pitch will support the development and participation in football at all ability levels.

The Football Foundation, the country’s largest sports charity, is dedicated to revitalising the grass roots of the game, constructing modern football facilities, developing football as a vehicle for education in communities throughout the country. The Foundation is funded by the Premier League, The FA and Government with an annual budget of £40m.

Jeff Stelling said: “I am delighted to join the local community and staff at The Henry Beaufort School to celebrate the opening of this state of the art facility which will make a big boost to football in the local community.

“People say it’s an impossible dream to become a footballer but I see having a facility like this as a chance for youngsters to fulfil their dreams.

“The school deserves huge credit for their hard work in raising the funds from organisations like the Football Foundation to develop this new site, which is clearly going to be great for the local community.”

Jonathan de Sausmarez, Headteacher at Henry Beaufort School, commented: “It is a great moment to have finally reached the stage when we can open one of the best school and community facilities in Hampshire.

“The new all weather football pitch has been a dream for many years and my thanks go to all the people who have made it possible. Now I hope we can support the many young people in the area who desperately need this facility.”

Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation added: “Congratulations should go to Henry Beaufort School and the Hampshire County FA, who have worked hard to secure this vital investment for sport in the area.

“I am delighted that more than £342,000 of Football Foundation funding has gone to help build state-of-the-art facilities, which will benefit pupils and the local community in and around Winchester. Since its launch in 2000, the Foundation has supported 701 projects across Hampshire worth £22m.

“It is a particular privilege that such a well-regarded figure from the game, Jeff Stelling, is officially launching the new pitch. He effectively started the ‘countdown’ to these celebrations back in February when he presented school with the Football Foundation’s cheque to get the scheme underway. It is excellent news that Jeff is, once again, able to join the school and local people on this special occasion.”

Cllr Patricia Stallard, Winchester City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Heritage, Culture and Sport, said: “We are delighted to be able to support this collaborative project to provide a much needed community sports facility for the Winchester District. This facility will give sports participation a boost in this area offering people the opportunity to play in all weathers and on dark winter evenings.”