Manchester City legends Mike Summerbee and Tony Book brought the Premier League trophy to Failsworth School on Wednesday to officially open a refurbished third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch (AGP). The project was made possible thanks to a £317,348 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which provides grants towards developing new or refurbished grassroots football facilities.
England forward Sue Smith, Manchester City Women’s defender Danielle Lea and Football Foundation President Lord Pendry were also in attendance to mark the opening of the refurbished pitch, which will enable Failsworth School to significantly increase opportunities for its pupils to participate in football through PE lessons and extra-curricular sports clubs and fixtures.
The facility, which will be known locally as the Failsworth Sports Campus, will sit at the heart of local football and sports development in the surrounding area. The pitch will be available for use by the local community at evenings and weekends and will host matches from the Manchester Youth and Mini Soccer League, which attracts 1,300 participants every week, and the Oldham Sunday League. A number of local clubs, including Failsworth Dynamos FC, Failsworth Athletic FC, Hyde FC, Chadderton FC, will also use the facilities regularly. Manchester City’s Foundation, City in the Community, have already started to deliver coaching sessions at the site.
The school has a rich history of producing young footballers who have signed professional contracts with clubs. This year alone the school have Louis Myers (Fleetwood Town), Jamie Stott (Oldham Athletic), Callum Scullion (Oldham Athletic) and Cameron Humphreys (Manchester City and current England Under-18 Captain) amongst their pupils. Their famous alumni include James Tarkowski (Brentford FC), Luke Daly (Burnley FC) and Nathan Ecclestone (formerly of Liverpool FC).
The club worked in partnership with the Manchester FA to secure a £317,348 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund. Funded by the Premier League, The FA, and the Government, via Sport England, the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund is delivered by the Football Foundation, the country’s largest sports charity.
In May 2006 the school received a grant of £935,080 from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund towards the construction of two new AGPs, a new changing room pavilion and the improvement of grass pitches which cost £1,254,295.
Since it was launched in 2000, the Foundation has awarded around 12,000 grants worth more than £490m towards improving grassroots sport, which it has used to attract additional partnership funding of over £651m – over £1bn of investment into the grassroots game. Since 2000 the Football Foundation Funding Partners’ investment has provided 110 grants worth £13.9m towards grassroots sports projects worth over £16.4m across the whole of Manchester.
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.
Former player and Manchester City Football Club Ambassador Mike Summerbee, said: “It was a real privilege for me to officially open this impressive new pitch, especially with it being in Manchester. Artificial grass pitches, just like this one, are so important to grassroots football, and I know that this one will be very well used by the school and local community. Our Club’s Foundation, City in the Community, are already delivering sessions at the school, so it’ll mean more local people having more opportunities to play the beautiful game.”
John Meagher, Head Teacher, and Jim Ryan, Director of Support Services, said: “We are delighted to have formally opened our fantastic new facilities here at Failsworth School. After many years of hard work, it is good to see this project come to fruition. It is a superb example of what can be achieved when a range of partners work together.
“The new facilities will not only benefit the school, and communities of Failsworth and Oldham, but also support and enhance the further development of football in the local area. We are grateful to the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund and Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council for their support through this process.”
Richard Scudamore, Premier League Chief Executive, said: “This outstanding facility will be used to its full potential by Failsworth School and the local community. The Manchester Youth and Mini Soccer League alone will host 1,300 participants every weekend. Manchester City’s community arm, City in the Community, is already using the pitch to deliver football sessions.
“Failsworth School has a rich history of producing players who have gone on to play professional football and this pitch will only strengthen the link between the grassroots and professional game to the benefit of both.
“It is one of the principal aims of the Premier League through the Premier League & FA Facilities Fund, to improve the experience for regular players and, crucially, attract new players to the game, and facilities like this one do exactly that. 52 3G artificial grass pitches have already been built over the past year, with another 100 plus already in the pipeline”
Lord Pendry, President of the Football Foundation, commented: “I am so delighted to see the positive effect this pitch is having on grassroots sport and the community in Manchester, and pleased to meet the people dedicated to ensuring its continued success. The Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which is delivered by the Football Foundation, continues and is committed to supporting projects like this across the country.”
Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, added: “The Football Foundation is responsible for managing and delivering the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which is funded by the Premier League, The FA and the Government, via Sport England. This outstanding refurbished 3G AGP is an example of the positive impact that this funding is having on our grassroots game. First-class facilities like this are crucial to creating more opportunities for local people to enjoy regular sport.
“Aided by the Manchester FA, Failsworth School deserves huge credit for taking a vision and turning it into a reality, using funding provided by the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund. Sport has the power to make a positive impact on the health of communities and this wonderful new facility will improve the sporting experience of local people and encourage them to be more active.”
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