onsıde| ISSUE 39 COVER STORY: GARETH SOUTHGATE 14 Captains Middlesbrough to a League Cup Final win against Bolton – the first major trophy in the club’s history. 29 FEBRUARY 2004 Gareth Southgate and the Football Foundation’s journey to transform the grassroots game. TIMELINE OF TRANSFORMATION: Becomes a Football Foundation Ambassador. 25 MARCH 2004 Through the latter stages of his playing career, and then as a manager, his willingness to make time to open new all-weather pitches for example, or lend his name to promote the Grow the Game initiative, has singled him out as someone who cares deeply about the base of this country’s football pyramid. Fitting then that even after his ascent to Manager of the England Men’s Senior team, his appetite to see more people involved in the grassroots game is no less whet. Burton Albion’s Pirelli Stadium was the latest setting for the former League Cup-winning Middlesbrough FC Captain to outline his philosophy. “Throughout my career I’ve always been a big supporter of the grassroots game, and state-of-the-art facilities are its lifeblood,” he said on a bitterly cold Staffordshire morning. “Floodlit all-weather pitches allow football to be played all-year-round, irrespective of the weather. This means more people, more often, taking part in the sport.” Most people who step foot on a football pitch will not play the game professionally. Though the acceptance that one’s ability might not match dreams of being paid-to-play might be sad for some, sadder still is an individual never playing in the first place, or subsequently stopping, because the facilities are inadequate. Not so at the Perelli. Atop the previously undeveloped area behind the Brewers’ stadium now sits a pristine third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch (AGP) and a two storey changing room pavilion, complete with clubroom and office space. So impressive is the £1m complex, motorists that whizz past it from the nearby A-road could be forgiven for thinking it was the club’s new training facility. All First Team drills and other match preparations will however happen elsewhere, for this is a community hub. Southgate encapsulated the facility’s importance, perfectly: “As a professional, I have been lucky enough to train, play and coach on some of the best facilities in the country. I believe that those who train, play or coach at the grassroots level should be afforded the same experience – and people will certainly get that here.” Gareth was joined by a host of VIPs, including Burton manager Nigel Clough, local MP Andrew Griffiths, our own President Lord Pendry and Gareth’s fellow Foundation Ambassador, talkSPORT presenter Georgie Bingham. The Burton Albion Community Trust (BACT), the charitable arm of Championship side, were instrumental in the application for funding. Their proposal saw the Football Foundation award £843,510 through the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund. That money was forthcoming after consultation with the Staffordshire FA who, alongside the Foundation, helped the BACT to draw-up a Football Development Plan, which sets out a long-term vision for the growth football at the new site. For example, a number of local grassroots clubs will call the new pitch ‘home’, with Stretton Eagles