The Football Foundation drew high profile support this month when a former England left-back, a Sky Sports News Anchor and a couple of Premier League footballers were out in force to see for themselves a selection of brilliant new grassroots football facilities, made possible thanks to money from the Premier League, The FA and the Government/Sport England.
Football Foundation Ambassador Chris Powell was on hand to open Northolt High School’s new 3G AGP in Ealing, with the school receiving £288,034 from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund to build the new facility, which will be a football hub for not not only their students, but several local grassroots clubs and Brentford FC’s Community Sports Trust.
Chris plied his trade for, amongst other teams, Charlton Athletic and West Ham United and was called up to Sven Goran Eriksson’s England squad in 2001, before embarking on a managerial career which, to date, has included stints at Charlton Athletic and Huddersfield Town.
Chris spoke of his pride at being an Ambassador for the Foundation: “I am delighted to be a Football Foundation Ambassador because their commitment to improving grassroots facilities, like this one in Ealing, is exceptional.’’
Hayley McQueen, who was recently announced as a Football Foundation Ambassador, joined students from Woodhouse College to celebrate the opening of their new 3G pitch: “You could see from the smiles on the students’ faces what a difference having nice sports facilities like this makes. But it doesn’t stop at the school gates. It’s going to be used extensively by the wider community too,” she said.
As Hayley says, the benefit of the pitch doesn’t end at the school gates, pitches like these allow for a community to have a real hub for sporting activity. On the day, the Sky Sports News HQ Anchor lent advice to students from the college on their future career and her rise to becoming one of the UK’s best-known female sports journalists.
The school received a huge grant of £220,554 from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund to build the new pitch, which is set to become a centre for the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation to use as a community hub alongside use from the school and local amateur clubs.
It was a case of ‘back to school’ for Sunderland and England Under-21 striker, Duncan Watmore, who visited St John’s School and Sixth Form College to see their new 3G AGP, which was funded with £214,950 from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund.
Watmore, a Football Foundation Ambassador, graduated from Newcastle University last year with a first-class degree in economics and business management, showing he’s got the brains on and off the pitch! Students from the school were fortunate enough to be joined by Duncan for a kickabout and he also signed autographs and posed for selfies!
“The beauty of floodlit 3G pitches is that they don’t get waterlogged and you can play on them through the dark evenings. I remember trying to train on some real quagmire natural grass pitches and then having to finish the session early because it got too dark!’’ Duncan was signed by Sunderland from non-league Altrincham FC, so has had a quick rise through professional football but can already see the effect the Football Foundation is having on the grassroots game.
Norwich City Captain Russell Martin got to see how a new 3G pitch is built, with the Open Academy’s new surface just a couple months away from completion. Russel spoke to students and the contractors who are building the pitch and saw how excited everyone is to see the finished article: “When the all-weather surface is complete they are going to have a seriously good set of facilities that will have a massive impact on football and other sports in the area.’’
The Canaries Captain was speaking on the pitch which received funding of £498,789 from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund and will form a Football Development Centre for the Norfolk County FA.
These four new 3G pitches are examples of the 598 built by the Football Foundation in the last 16 years. These kinds of facilities mean football can be played all day and night and the weather won’t make a bit difference to your enjoyment of the game.