Page 15 - ONSIDE Issue 29

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Q. How will this new artificial grass pitch
affect the school and local community?
This is not just a facility for the school, though
it will be very impor tant in that regard, but the
town of Faversham has quite a big hinterland,
and there is some distance between Faversham
and Canterbury on one side and Faversham and
Sittingbourne on the other. So it’s a big area,
with up until now, absolutely no all-weather
facility.This ar tificial grass pitch will transform
the spor ts offered to FavershamTown and the
surrounding area.
Q.What difference is the Government
making to grassroots sports?
Government makes a difference in three ways,
the first is through the direct grant it makes to
the Foundation to enable it to build facilities
such as this. Secondly, we increase the amount
of money that spor t gets through the National
Lottery to preserve the amount of money
Spor t England has to invest in spor t through the
Whole Spor t Plan, £30m of that goes to The FA.
Finally, Spor t England’s money that’s not used for
that, is invested through two schemes called; the
Iconic and the Inspired Facilities through Places
People Play. So absolutely everything we do is
about increasing facilities at the grassroots.
Q.What is your impression of the
difference Foundation facilities make to
grassroots sports?
One word: transformational.
Q.The Foundation’s Monitoring and
Evaluation Report records an average
increase in participation of 10.1% at
facilities it has funded. How important
are better facilities as a driver
of participation?
Paul Thorogood, the Foundation’s Chief
Executive, absolutely hit the nail on the head
when he said, if you have a grass pitch (which
is the majority of the facilities in the country),
you can use it, on average, four hours a week
which stops at half past three in the afternoon
in the middle of winter. If you have a modern
all-weather pitch, you can use it at an average of
85 hours a week, under floodlights.When I said
the work of the Foundation is transformational
at the grassroots, it enables people who could
otherwise play for four hours a week to play
for, say, 85 hours, and you can see the difference
that makes straight away.
Q. How important is measuring the
impact of grassroots funding?
It’s very impor tant to make the case for more
funding, I can say to the Chancellor, every time
the Foundation builds a new all-weather facility
it’s booked out straight away. But actually having
the figures to prove that, and then having the
backing of the medical profession and others
[endorsing] the difference spor t makes to the
nation’s health and its happiness is incredibly
impor tant, so you’ve got to have really reliable,
independent data to make this argument stick.
Q.This project will also provide
employment for lots of suppliers
and subcontractors. Do you see this
investment in grassroots infrastructure
also as a means of economic stimulus?
Yes, I do. In a sense, it’s a smaller version of
what we are doing with the Olympic project.
By investing £9.3 billion into London’s Olympics
we’ve enabled a huge number of businesses
to showcase what they can do and get work
at a time of economic recession. Exactly the
same argument applies to the money that the
Foundation invests in grassroots facilities.
Q.With nearly £1billion worth of
projects in 12 years, what do you think of
the Department for Culture Media and
Sport’s partnership with football through
the Foundation?
It’s been a fantastic success.
There is one organisation that is responsible
for driving facility provision at the grassroots;
without their foresight and imagination, projects
like The Abbey School’s wouldn’t be happening.
Hugh Rober tson, MP for Faversham and Mid Kent
and Minister for Spor t and the Olympics, was
the bearer of good news for a Kent school. He
presented The Abbey School with a Foundation
cheque for £390,081 towards their new third
generation ar tificial grass pitch.
Hugh Rober tson MP said:
“This is great news
for Faversham in general and The Abbey School
in particular. In an Olympic year, it is wonderful
for the town to have such an exciting new
state-of-the-art facility and I am very grateful
to the Foundation for making it happen.”
The project, developed with the help of the Kent
FA, will enable the school to develop its football
activities, ensuring that it has a comprehensive
programme for all year groups.The facility will
also allow three FA Char ter Standard par tner
clubs to grow and sustain their par ticipation levels,
providing them with a quality facility to assist with
their training and match programmes.
Simon Finlan, Director of Spor t at The Abbey
School, said:
“Over 60% of the facilities’ usage
will be community based, giving benefit to
local primary schools, the general public and
particularly our two main youth football teams –
Faversham Strike Force FC and FavershamTown
Youth and Juniors FC.
“We would like to acknowledge the excellent
support given by the Kent FA, Hugh Robertson
MP and, most importantly, the significant financial
contribution made by the Foundation.”
| The Football Foundation Magazine | Issue 29