Page 28 - ONSIDE Issue 31

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At Rober t Mays School, we used to have just a
grass area for games and PE.We would regularly
have to cancel the school football teams’ fixtures,
as well as a lot of the curriculum timetable, due to
the weather. It really hampered us.
But since installing the third generation pitch, it
has been a completely different story.You can just
play on it at all times – so, whatever the weather,
you have always got the chance to play football. It
is excellent.
As well as the all-weather nature of the pitch, we
have been able to offer after-school activity on the
pitch thanks to the floodlights. It has made such a
difference. Previously all sport would have to come
to a stop as soon as it became dark – often as
early as at 4pm during winter.
The third generation surface has also enabled us
to greatly improve the consistency of PE teaching.
It is far easier to help the kids develop skills and
technique on the third generation pitch than it is
on the rougher, less flat grass surface.
This is especially true for the less advanced kids.The
quality surface gives a ‘truer’ roll of the ball, which
means that it is far easier to properly control. One
less naturally-gifted pupil has gone up two sub-levels
within one term, which is a major achievement.
But even the more talented players have massively
improved their skills and possession play since they
have been playing on the new pitch.
It enables us to cater for other sports too. In the
summer we use the pitch for rounders, hockey, and
we can even run rugby drills on it. In fact we can
use it for a wide variety of games and situations. So
it has significantly helped the PE department here.
The third generation pitch has definitely enthused
the pupils, including the ones who were not
necessarily as interested in sport previously.They
really love going on it and want to use it all the
time. As a result, far more pupils are involved in
football.We have also been able to introduce B
and C teams, as well as girls’ teams.
The number of our pupils involved in extra-
curricular sport has dramatically increased. Normally
you would only have around 15 in any year group
playing for the school team but, as we have able to
add B and C teams, we have increased the number
of pupils representing the school. On Thursday
afternoons, for example, we have nearly 60 kids
playing fromYears 7 and 8 alone.
We have started entering the Schools Cup, which
we had previously never done.We were a bit
worried about that initially, as we thought we
would get knocked out straight away but the boys
did extremely well. Some of the school’s teams
also made it through the quarter finals of the
Hampshire Cup.
Girls’ numbers have also significantly increased.
They have been entering the National Schools
Cup – in fact, they were runners-up to the current
Hampshire County champions in the Aldershot
Town FC six-a-side tournament.
We also now use the third generation surface
for our GCSE moderation, as everything is neater,
more precise and far more under control.
The pitch has enabled us to really engage the local
community too. A number of local junior schools
regularly use the pitch. Aldershot Town FC also
run tournaments for 14 local junior and secondary
school teams on the pitch. Meanwhile, in the
evenings we have six local youth football clubs and
seven adult teams that use the pitch, between half
past five and half past nine.
Nor thWarnboroughYouth FC, the most local club
to us, has set up a youth team and has added an
extra men’s team as a result of the pitch, and the
links that they have established with us.
Head of Coaching at NorthWarnboroughYouth
FC, Jon Hor ton, told us:
“We’re delighted to
have such excellent facilities at our disposal.
The state-of-the-art third generation pitch
has benefitted the standard of training we can
provide throughout the year, and the ability to
play League and Cup matches, regardless of
weather conditions.
“Visiting clubs have commented positively on the
standard and how much they have thoroughly
enjoyed playing on it.”
“As we look to develop our facilities and those
in conjunction with Robert May’s School, I trust
and hope such support from the Foundation will
continue to assist both parties in the future.”
The FA’s Football Mash-up sessions are also run
from the pitch on Tuesdays, for Years 9s, 10s and
11s.This is helping The FA to address to fall-off of
footballers in that age group.
A coach from Hampshire Soccer Schools, which
is affiliated to Arsenal FC, runs two afternoon
sessions a week and another on a Saturday.
Farnborough Town FC also do community
coaching on the pitch so it has become a great
local hub. In fact, in spite of the huge increase
in capacity that the third generation pitch has
provided, there is still far more local demand for
the pitch than we can cater for at the moment.
Personally, I think that third generation pitches
like ours are going to be essential to delivering
The FA’s youth football plans. I can see how the
children get to touch the ball more often due to
the surface.They do not have to worry too much
about getting the ball under control as it is already
at their feet.
The Foundation grant that helped us to develop
the pitch was really essential. If it was not for
that funding the pitch would not exist. In fact we
probably would not have even looked at getting
a third generation pitch for the school if it had
not been for the Foundation. I want to thank the
Foundation and its funders for suppor ting us.This
ar tificial pitch has helped our school, and our wider
community so much. It has been brilliant!
Richard Warman was speaking to
ONSIDE Editor, Rory Carroll.
Hampshire school’s pitch is
lesson in sporting success
RichardWarman, PETeacher at Robert Mays School
in Hampshire, explains how pupils and local clubs are
benefiting from their stunning third generation artificial
grass pitch built with funding from the Premier League,
The FA and Government (via Sport England).
In fact, in spite of the huge
increase in capacity that
the third generation pitch
has provided, there is still
far more local demand
for the pitch than we can
cater for at the moment.”
| The Football Foundation Magazine | Issue 31