Whilst the Premier League table began to take shape this month, we were lucky to have four of the league’s current stars on hand to open some of our fantastic, new facilities.
Starting in Watford where our Ambassador, and former Hornets manager, Graham Taylor OBE, was joined by three of the sides’ current squad, Troy Deeney, Heurelho Gomes and Jerome Sinclair, to open a new state-of-the-art football facility.
The quartet helped to officially unveil Watford FC Community Sports and Education Trust’s (CEST) new 3G pitch and changing pavilion at the Meriden Community Centre in Watford.
The project, which was made possible thanks to a £250,916 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, looks set to increase participation in the area by 49%, whilst also becoming a community hub for a range of sports, with table tennis, yoga, dance and martial arts, available at the new facility.
Having enjoyed many years, both in the dugout and as Chairman, at Vicarage Road, Taylor said, “This club holds a very special place in my heart.
“I know that Watford has long been a club that is genuinely committed to its local community. It will serve as an important venue for them to deliver life-changing community projects.”
We then took the trip up north as Middlesbrough FC defender, Ben Gibson, took a break from his fantastic start to life in the Premier League to open the brand new 3G pitch at Laurence Jackson School in Guisborough.
Gibson, who has already amassed over 100 appearances for Boro, said, “Having come through the Boro Academy, like so many of Laurence Jackson’s former pupils, I know how vital facilities like this are to enjoying the game and potentially making a career out of it.”
The new 3G pitch will be used all-year-round by Laurence Jackson School’s 1,200 pupils and is set to raise sports participation by 84%, with partner club Guisborough Town FC expected to grow their number of teams from 11 to 19.
Middlesbrough Academy manager, Dave Parnaby, was also in attendance to help Ben open the facility, which was made possible thanks to a £335,283 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund.
Everyone at the Foundation would like to thank Graham, Troy, Heurelho, Jerome and Ben for attending and opening our facilities, it’s fantastic to see so many stars giving their support to the grassroots game.
The Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund is funded by the Premier League, The FA, and the Government, via Sport England. Since it was launched in 2000, the Foundation has awarded around 14,000 grants worth more than £560m towards improving grassroots sport, which it has used to attract additional partnership funding of over £780m – over £1.4bn of investment into grassroots.
See the full gallery of images from both events on our Flickr page!