Date published: 01/07/2015
Middlesbrough FC star George Friend cut the ribbon as the Middlesbrough FC Foundation unveiled their newly-refurbished 3G pitch at the Herlingshaw Centre, South Bank.
The full-size floodlit pitch will be used by various members of the community, including local female teams, disability groups and schools partners.
George was joined by the Deputy Mayor for Redcar and Cleveland, Neil Bendelow, and MFC Foundation Chair of Trustees Stewart Smith as the pitch was officially opened.
The state-of-the-art artificial grass surface was installed thanks to a grant of just under £450,000 from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which is delivered by the, as well as a £50,000 investment by the Tees Valley Community Foundation.
And on a beautiful summer’s day, George was among the first to it out for himself, along with children from Chandlers Ridge Academy.
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. The Football Foundation is currently celebrating its 15-year Anniversary. Since it was launched in 2000, the Foundation has supported more than 13,000 grassroots projects worth over £1.3 billion.
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.
“I love the new pitch,” said George. “It’s great that the Foundation now has such a superb facility.
“It’s a professional standard, and hopefully the local community can come and play like professionals on it!
“It is an amazing bit of equipment and I look forward to coming down during the season and seeing people using it and enjoying themselves.”
Simon Morgan, Head of Community Development at the Premier League, said: “Middlesbrough are a very community-focussed club and the refurbishment of the pitch at their Herlingshaw site will ensure a significant opportunity to increase football participation by local people. The Premier League’s ongoing investment into facilities alongside The FA and the Government, via Sport England, is part of our ongoing strategy to develop clubs as hubs of their local community."
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 the MFC Foundation to develop this new 3G AGP. This development will provide a real boost to sport in the local area.
“Since 2000, the Football Foundation has supported grassroots projects worth more than £1.3bn, 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 Middlesbrough 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.”
Helena Pinder, Head of Middlesbrough Football Club Foundation, said: “We are delighted at the completion of the new facility. It looks fantastic and we are looking forward to opening it up to the public and local community to use. We would like to thank the Premier League and FA Facilities Fund for their investment and our local partner, Tees Valley Community Foundation for their contribution of £50,000 towards the project.”