Date published: 04/11/2016
Middlesbrough FC star Ben Gibson cut the ribbon alongside the club's Academy Manager, Dave Parnaby, to officially open proceedings at the new 3G pitch.
Middlesbrough FC defender Ben Gibson, officially unveiled Laurence Jackson School’s third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch (AGP) in Guisborough recently (Thursday 3 November 2016) where he was joined by Boro’s Academy manager, Dave Parnaby.
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. These outcomes are projected as part of the five-year Football Development Plan (FDP) – a long-term vision for how sport will be played at the new facility – developed by the school alongside the Football Foundation and North Riding FA.
Laurence Jackson School have formed a strong partnership with Boro over the years with several of their students having progressed into the Teeside club’s Academy setup. The school’s alumni include Lewis Maloney and Mark Kitching who currently play for Boro’s Under-23 side, while former student James Coppinger, who previously played for Newcastle United FC, now enjoys first-team football for Championship side, Doncaster Rovers FC.
The project was made possible thanks to a £335,283 grant from The Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which provides grants towards new or refurbished grassroots sports facilities. It is funded by the Premier League, The FA, and the Government, via Sport England, and is delivered by the Football Foundation, the country’s largest sports charity. Since it was launched in 2000, the Foundation has awarded around 15,000 grants worth nearly £580m towards improving grassroots sport, which it has used to attract additional partnership funding of just under £800m – over £1.4bn of investment into the grassroots game.
Since 2000, the Football Foundation Funding Partners’ investment has provided 209grants worth over £9m towards grassroots sports projects worth over £19m across the whole of North Riding.
By providing more high-quality facilities, coupled with coaching at the appropriate age group, the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund aims to improve the experience for regular players as well as attracting new players to the game. Many of the new state-of-the-art facilities will serve to strengthen the connection between professional football clubs and their local communities, particularly in the most deprived areas of the country, through the professional clubs’ community trusts’ outreach work.
Ben Gibson, who has already amassed over 100 appearances for Boro, said: “Today was a special day. Special because it was absolutely fantastic seeing local kids enjoying themselves on the new 3G pitch. I know from speaking to people involved in making the project happen, just how much of a positive impact it will have on the wider Guisborough community.
“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. I’d like to thank all those at the school for inviting me today and importantly, the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, whose financial support enables projects like this one to take place all across the country.”
Tony Gavin, Headteacher of Laurence Jackson School, said: “I would like to thank Middlesbrough FC for their impressive partnership work with us, which during my headship has always been first class. We are very fortunate in the North East that our professional football clubs have a genuine community focus. We are thrilled that both Ben and Dave have given up their time to support this event, it means a great deal to the school and locality.
“It has always been our dream to add a top quality artificial pitch to our excellent portfolio of sports facilities. We are already witnessing the excitement generated and the benefits to the PE curriculum and wider active participation. None of this could have happened without the full support of the school, Guisborough Town FC, North Riding FA and importantly, the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund to whom we will be eternally grateful.”
Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said: “I am delighted that a grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund has enabled Laurence Jackson School to build a new 3G AGP. This development will provide a real boost to sport in the local area and a special thanks must go to Ben and Dave for opening the new facility.
“Since 2000, the Football Foundation has supported grassroots projects worth more than £1.4bn, investing into areas where the need is greatest and where it will have the biggest impact in terms of getting more people playing football and a wide range of other sports.
“With this funding, provided by the Premier League, The FA and the Government, through Sport England, we are helping to improve community sports facilities across the country and thereby the playing experience of those who take part. This latest project in Guisborough is the latest addition to the inventory of modern community sports sites we are developing that cater for the needs of local people who want to play sport purely for the love of it and to stay healthy.”
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