Former Premier League referee Chris Foy officially opened Ormiston Chadwick Academy’s (OCA’s) new third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch (AGP) recently (Wednesday 8 February 2017), thanks to a grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which is delivered by the Football Foundation. Cllr Phil Harris, Halton Borough Council, also joined proceedings.
Replacing a previous sand-based playing surface, the new upgraded all-weather pitch will have a big impact on Widnes football, with overall participation projected to rise by 42% and five new girls’ teams to be created.
In addition to OCA’s 670 students, the new facility will house a number of local grassroots clubs, including Widnes FC, Hurricanes FC and Pex Hill FC, all of whom will be able to use the 3G pitch all-year-round, during all types of weather.
As part of the project, OCA worked in tandem with the Football Foundation and Liverpool FA to develop a five-year Football Development Plan (FDP) – a long-term vision of how sport will be played at the new facility. Through this FDP, Widnes FC will create a new disability side to compete in the local Ability Counts League, while also enrolling their affiliated coaches onto The FA’s Coaching Disabled Footballers course.
The project was made possible thanks to a £355,890 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which is delivered by the Football Foundation, the country’s largest sports charity.
The Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund provides grants towards developing new or refurbished grassroots football facilities. It is funded by the Premier League, The FA, and the Government, via Sport England. Since it was launched in 2000, the Football 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 257 grants worth £15m towards grassroots sports projects worth £55m across the whole of Liverpool.
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.
Now Head of Community and Public Engagement at the Professional Game Match Officials Limited, Chris Foy has helped open a number of Football Foundation facilities in the North West recently, including St John Bosco’s new all-weather pitch, and Cheshire East Council’s new changing room pavilion.
Opening OCA’s new state-of-the-art facility, Chris said: “This all-weather pitch is fantastic, and it’s great to see so many youngsters out there playing football, making the most of the new facility – even in the cold! Recently, I’ve visited some tremendous grassroots facilities delivered by the Football Foundation, and I’ve seen how much of a positive impact they make on local sport.
“It’s the same here – the all-weather pitch will be enjoyed not only by the school, but also a number of local community groups and clubs, who offer provision for coaches, referees and players. These facilities at the lower levels of sport are the bedrock of the professional game, and I’d like to thank the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund for their generous financial support, and also of course OCA for getting the pitch up and running!”
Cllr Phil Harris, Community Governor of Ormiston Chadwick Academy, said: “This replacement 3G pitch, funded by the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund and OCA, is an outstanding facility for a fantastic school, that will be a welcome addition to local sports infrastructure and sports development.
“Thanks to the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund’s desire to improve grassroots sport, we now have a high quality sports facility that will be used by students and some of the community’s best amateur sports teams.
“As the Council’s spokesperson for sport and as a local councillor, I welcome this new facility – and as a governor I am well aware of the benefits that high quality sports facilities bring for students, and the commitment OCA has to community access of the school.’’
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 Ormiston Chadwick Academy to build a fantastic new all-weather pitch. This development will provide a real boost to sport in the local area, and a special thanks must go to Chris Foy – a great ambassador for grassroots football – 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 Liverpool 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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