Date published: 13/08/2014
On Saturday, Hartlepool Mayor, Stephen Akers-Belcher, officially opened a new £620,800 third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch (AGP) at Brierton Sports Complex. The pitch was made possible thanks to a £602,800 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which provides grants towards developing new or refurbished grassroots football facilities.
The grant – which received praise from Sky Sports presenter Jeff Stelling, who was born in Hartlepool – has enabled Hartlepool Borough Council to establish Brierton Sports Complex as a hub for local football. The full-size 3G AGP will be available to use all year round and reduced rental rates for local clubs will significantly increase participation.
The project also includes upgrades to the grass pitches at the site, enhancing provision for junior football and ensuring that fewer games are called off due to waterlogged pitches.
Hartlepool Borough Council will work closely with local partner club Greatham FC who will use the 3G AGP and grass pitches for training and matches. The club plan to increase their number of teams from 15 to 20 over the next five years, with plans to establish two new girls’ teams in the near future.
Additionally, the site will play host to the Durham FA’s Coach Education Programme and an 11v11 Summer League which will help address the decline of adult male football in the area.
The council worked in partnership with the Durham FA and Greatham FC to secure a £602,800 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. 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.
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.
Jeff Stelling, Sky Sports presenter, said: “As a Hartlepool man, naturally I am delighted to hear of Brierton Sports Complex’s new 3G AGP. As a supporter of the Football Foundation, I have visited similar sites previously and seen first-hand just how crucial they are to the grassroots game in this country. Facilities like these promote the next generation of footballing talent, and I am very thankful to the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund for investing so heavily into Hartlepool.”
Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher, Leader of Hartlepool Borough Council, commented: “I’d like to thank the Mayor, Councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher for giving up his time to officially open this stunning new facility. Also, I’d like to thank the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund for making this project possible. It will improve grassroots sport in Hartlepool immeasurably and benefit all of the local community for many years.”
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 3G pitch 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 Durham FA, Hartlepool Borough Council 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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