Date published: 17/06/2015
Today, John Scales, former Wimbledon FC and Liverpool FC defender and Georgie Bingham, talkSPORT and Premier League World presenter, were at Twickenham Academy’s third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch (AGP) as part of the Football Foundation’s 15-year Anniversary celebrations.
John and Georgie were joined by newly elected MP for Twickenham, Dr Tania Mathias, who watched Year Seven and Year Eight pupils take part in a series of matches. Dr Mathias then blew a whistle to kick off a penalty shoot-out which John and Georgie took part in as team captains.
Pupils also took part in a Q&A session, where they asked John about his career in football and Georgie what it was like working in the media. Paul Jones, Surrey FA’s County Development Manager, was also in attendance.
In 2008 Twickenham Academy (formerly known as Whitton School) received a £617,941 grant from the Football Foundation’s Funding Partners – the Premier League, The FA and the Government via Sport England – to develop a 102m x 63m, floodlit 3G AGP, new changing room pavilion and a refurbished real grass pitch. The facilities were officially opened in November 2010 by former Wimbledon FC and Brentford FC striker Carl Cort.
The Twickenham Academy uses the pitch extensively to deliver both multi-sport Physical Education lessons and extra-curricular activities. The facility is used by 1,150 (172 female and 978 male) grassroots footballers every single week, including those from eight local FA-affiliated grassroots clubs, community groups, small-sided leagues and rugby clubs.
The school also work closely with the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust (CST) who use the 3G AGP on a weekly basis to host training sessions and matches as part of their Advanced Training Programme. Brentford FC CST also run a weekly Saturday morning Soccer School at the site for young children.
John Scales commented: “I am very proud to be an Ambassador for the Football Foundation, a charity who have been commited to improving our nation’s grassroots football facilities for the last 15 years. The first-class sports facilities I’ve seen at Twickenham Academy today demonstrates the excellent work of the Foundation.
“During my career I played with some of the best players of their day and they all started out at the grassroots level. Therefore it is vital for the future of our national game that grassroots players have access to high-quality 3G playing surfaces and thanks to the Football Foundation’s excellent record of delivering facilities in places where the need is greatest, we are making huge strides.”
Georgie Bingham said: “It was fantastic to visit Twickenham Academy today and see first-hand the positive impact that the 3G pitch, just one example that the Football Foundation has delivered over the last 15 years, is having on community sport in the local area.
“The Foundation does an excellent job of ensuring that all of the facilities that they fund are accessible to everyone, regardless of age, gender or ability. It is crucial that people are able to enjoy playing football in a comfortable and safe environment if participation in the sport is to continue to grow across the country.”
Founded in 2000 the Football Foundation is the largest sports charity in the UK funded by the Premier League, The FA and Government, via Sport England. It funds the development of new and refurbished grassroots sports facilities in order to improve the quality and experience of playing sport at the grassroots level.
Since it was launched in 2000, the Foundation has awarded around 13,000 grants worth more than £524m towards improving grassroots sport, which it has used to attract additional partnership funding of over £740m – over £1.3bn of investment into the grassroots game.
Dr Tania Mathias MP remarked: “I was delighted to be involved with the Football Foundation’s 15-year Anniversary celebrations today. The Foundation has supported 47 projects worth £3.3m in Twickenham since 2000. It is great to see Twickenham Academy’s 3G pitch used to showcase their achievements, including the development of 520 similar all-weather playing surfaces right across the country.
“Today it was clear to see the enjoyment that this facility brings to pupils at the Twickenham Academy. I was especially pleased to learn that this pitch is used not only for the school’s PE lessons but by the wider community, including as a base for Brentford FC’s Community Sports Trust.”