03 One of the most satisfying parts of my job is seeing at first hand a community sports facility that we have helped to transform using funding provided by our Funding Partners. Often the site would have been one of many that can be found up and down the country that has fallen into disrepair through decades of under investment and neglect. The changing rooms left leaking, cold and uninviting – that is if there was any changing provision at all. The poorly-drained pitch would become a quagmire by late autumn and then freeze in the depths of winter, threatening twisted ankles and jarred bones; and by the spring and summer absent of any grass. A place then almost specifically designed to put people off playing sport at it, rather than one that draws people to it. In this annual review you will see the remarkable effect that is achieved when we invest in these facilities, replacing the grim vision I outline above with a new generation of modern sports facilities that attract – almost compel – people to take up a sport, regularly and for the long-term. The feeling of walking onto a new third generation (3G) surface never changes for me. The fresh, slightly giving, completely flat surface makes me want to kick a football – even at my advancing years! While we have a responsibility to provide the very best facilities at the grassroots level of the game, so that our young (and old) footballers have the very best experience of playing the game – and yes develop their talent so that they can be as good as they can be – it is doubly important that those who have perhaps decided to take up the sport for the first time, to get fit or to expand their social horizons, enjoy their initial experience so that they will come back again. Encouraging people who do not ‘do’ sport to take part on a regular basis is the only true way of increasing participation levels; and quality facilities combined with good organisation and expert coaching at the right levels is central to this. None of this would be possible without the significant contribution made by out Funding Partners, the Premier League, The FA and the Government (via Sport England). I would like to offer my wholehearted thanks to them and also to our many other partners who contribute to this very important work, including the County FAs, professional football clubs and their community foundations. With your sustained support, we will be able to continue our mission to improve this country’s community grassroots facilities and, thereby, help to improve the health and wellbeing of the nation generally and deprived communities in particular. It also means that I will be able to find an excuse to escape the office occasionally to kick a ball around on one of those perfect 3G surfaces! Thank you. Paul Thorogood Chief Executive CHIEF EXECUTIVE CHIEF EXECUTIVE’S FOREWORD