Date published: 17/11/2014
Former Luton and England forward, Brian Stein, was on hand to officially open the new state-of-the-art Flitwick Football Centre in Bedfordshire recently. The project received a £214,000 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which provides grants towards developing new or refurbished grassroots football facilities. A further £50,000 grant was provided by the Football Stadia Improvement Fund (FSIF), the largest funders of non-league football in the country.
The opening ceremony was attended by Brian Stein, famed for his League Cup final heroics against Arsenal in 1988, current Luton Town players, Paul Connolly and Alex Wall, and Bob Knowles, who was representing both the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund and the FSIF. Representatives from Central Bedfordshire Council and Bedfordshire FA were also in attendance. The project has seen an agricultural site transformed from farm land into one of the best grassroots football facilities in the county.
The Flitwick Football Centre now compromises: seven real grass pitches, which cater for Mini-Soccer and senior football, and a large modern changing pavilion which includes four dual-gender changing rooms, two officials’ changing rooms, a function suite, a kitchen and plant storage. Additionally, a 37-space car park was developed and road access to the site was improved as part of the project.
The new facility will be primarily used by Flitwick Eagles FC and Flitwick Town FC for both training and matches. The two clubs are committed to encouraging participation from both within their existing membership and from the recruitment of new members. The excellent facility will enable the number of teams the clubs run to increase from 23 to 42 over the next five years. Particular emphasis will be placed on developing female football at the site and there is expected to be a 200% increase in the number of young girls playing football regularly at the site.
This is not the first time that the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund has invested money into Flitwick. In 2012, a new full size 3G pitch was opened at Redborne Upper School thanks to a £352,000 grant.
Since 2000 the Football Foundation Funding Partners’ investment has provided 76 grants worth £5m towards grassroots sports projects worth over £11m across the whole of Bedfordshire.
The Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund is funded by the Premier League, The FA, and the Government, via Sport England. It is delivered by the Football Foundation, the country’s largest sports charity. Since it was launched in 2000, the Foundation has awarded around 13,000 grants worth more than £500m towards improving grassroots sport, which it has used to attract additional partnership funding of over £700m – over £1.2bn 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.
Councillor Ian Dalgarno, Deputy Executive Member for Community Services, Central Bedfordshire Council, said: “One of the council’s key priorities is to improve the health and well-being of residents of all ages, and these new football pitches will help contribute majorly towards that.
“Football is thriving at all levels across Central Bedfordshire, and hopefully these new pitches will inspire even more players to lace up their boots and enjoy a kickabout. I’d like to thank the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund and the FSIF for their considerable contribution towards this magnificent new facility.”
Bob Knowles, from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund and FSIF, said: “It was a privilege to attend the opening of Flitwick Football Centre. As someone who knows the area very well, I’m fully aware of just how beneficial this new facility will be to local grassroots football. I’ve seen how dedicated the members of Flitwick Eagles and Flitwick Town are to attracting new players and providing a safe environment for youngsters to get involved, so I look forward to following the progress of the two clubs.”
Peter McCormick OBE, Chairman of the Football Stadia Improvement Fund, commented: “This is a highly impressive project and I’m pleased that the FSIF has been able to offer support. This new football centre will have a hugely beneficial impact on grassroots football in Bedfordshire and will inspire hundreds of youngsters to get involved with football from a young age.”
For more information contact:
• Adrian Lear on 0300 300 4246 or Adrian.Lear@centralbedfordshire.gov.uk
• Bradley Cleveland on 0845 345 4555 Ext: 4282 or firstname.lastname@example.org