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Manchester United and England star Gary Neville opens new grassroots pavilion in Bolton

Manchester United and England star Gary Neville opens new grassroots pavilion in Bolton

Date published: 24/10/2014
Gary Neville opens new clubhouse at Horwich St Mary's

Today, England coach and former Manchester United defender Gary Neville officially opened a £978,807 state-of-the-art changing pavilion at Scholes Bank Playing Fields, Horwich.

The project was made possible thanks to a £738,807 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which provides grants towards developing new or refurbished grassroots football facilities. The Fund is delivered by the Football Foundation, the nation’s largest sports charity. Also present at the opening were Julie Hilling, MP for Bolton West, author Rick Banks and Football Foundation CEO, Paul Thorogood.

Gary Neville, who is an Ambassador for the Football Foundation, visited the site in 2011. Back then the Horwich St Mary’s FC players had to get changed in rusty shipping containers, and Gary saw at first-hand how the club’s poor facilities were hampering its expansion and providing a poor experience for its players. Now, thanks to the investment, the club boasts a modern changing pavilion with four dual-gender changing rooms, two officials’ rooms, a multi-function suite, a kitchen, spectator toilets and a storage area.

Historically, the playing fields at Scholes Bank have suffered from poor drainage which often meant that matches had to be cancelled. General overuse also meant the quality of the grass pitches suffered. However, the second phase of the project will see additional high quality natural grass pitches created on an adjacent area of agricultural grassland, with proper drainage that will ensure they are able to withstand the winter months.

Thanks to the stunning new site, Horwich St Mary’s is set to increase the number of its teams from 32 to 37 and the number of players from around 400 to more than 500 over the next five years, with emphasis placed on widening participation to include girls’ and women’s teams. Mini-Soccer teams will run at every age group from Under-6 upwards, and 11-a-side will then operate up to Under-18s with pathways provided to Horwich St Mary’s own senior men’s team.

An additional £190,000 came from the Horwich St Mary’s Trust, which raised the money through fundraising events over the last six years. Author Rick Banks, who grew up in nearby Egerton, donated the entire £22,400 profits from the sales of his book ‘Football Type’, whilst former Bolton Wanderers FC captain, Kevin Davies, gave £20,000 to the club, through his Kids of Bolton charity. The pavilion also received £50,000 from Sport England’s Protecting Playing Fields Fund, which invests National Lottery money into improving community sports fields.

Gary Neville said: “The new clubhouse at Scholes Bank is fantastic – a stunning improvement on the rusty shipping containers I saw here when I visited this site a few years ago.

“As The FA Chairman’s Commission recently stated, improving this country’s dire grassroots facilities is critical to success of the game. As an England coach I find it very encouraging to see the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund making a difference.

“This facility will lead to more local youngsters taking up the sport, and it will be a venue for new coaches to become qualified. A healthy grassroots game is essential for the health of the game at every level and the Football Foundation is expert at targeting this investment into areas where it will have the biggest impact. The money the Foundation invests on behalf of the Fund’s partners – the Premier League, The FA and government – is transforming sites like this right across the country.

“Everyone who has contributed to this project, and especially the volunteers at Horwich St Mary’s, have achieved something really special for the community and for the game as a whole.”

Lesley Allon, Club Secretary, Horwich St Mary’s, said: “We would like to thank Gary Neville for officially opening our new clubhouse and pitches. Without the years of hard work from those at the club and funding from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, our vision and hopes for Horwich St Mary’s could not have been realised, so we are all extremely thankful for all those who have contributed to this great effort.

Bolton West MP, Julie Hilling, said, “It was great to join Gary Neville today at the opening of such a wonderful new facility at Horwich St. Mary’s Football Club.  The fantastic partnerships including local residents, parents and national organisations should be very proud of this great achievement, which they have created together. Lesley Allon has done a brilliant job for the football club and I think she should be rewarded for all her hard work.  A big thank you to the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund for all the funding they have provided for local projects such as this here in Horwich. They have put in over £1.5 million here in Bolton West to support similar projects helping grassroots football in our small towns and communities.”

Sport England Property Director, Charles Johnston, said: “Playing fields are a vital part of grassroots sport as they are often the place where people have their first experience of sport. Our Protecting Playing Fields legacy fund is helping make a real difference to community sports clubs up and down the country by supporting one of the most important resources in sport. By protecting and improving playing fields like Horwich St Mary’s, we’re ensuring people and teams have a place to get active and enjoy sport all year round.”

ENDS

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Gary Neville playing football at opening of HSM JFC clubhouse
Julie Hilling MP and Gary Neville with HSM JFC players
Julie Hilling MP and Gary Neville with young players at Horwich St Mary's
After shot of new changing room at Horwich St Mary's
The impressive interior of the new dual-gender changing rooms
Gary Neville talks to HSM JFC club members
Gary Neville talks to club members at the official opening.

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“As The FA Chairman’s Commission recently stated, improving this country’s dire grassroots facilities is critical to success of the game. As an England coach I find it very encouraging to see the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund making a difference."


Gary Neville

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