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Oxford United FC players delighted to help unveil new all-weather pitch

Oxford United FC players delighted to help unveil new all-weather pitch

Date published: 04/10/2017
Oxford United FC players delighted to help unveil new all-weather pitch
Oxford United FC players John Obika (left, first image) and Rob Hall (right, first image) were joined by Oxford United Women FC's Demi Lambourne (left, third image) and Riva Casley (right, third image) to unveil Oxford Academy's brand new all-weather pitch.

Lucky students at the Oxford Academy were pleased to see their brand new floodlit all-weather pitch officially opened by players from Oxford United FC yesterday (Tuesday 3 October). Riva Casley, Demi Lambourne, Rob Hall and John Obika were all in attendance from the club to unveil the new pitch, made possible by a grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which is delivered by the Football Foundation. 

The grant has enabled the Oxford Academy to replace an existing grass pitch with a state-of-the-art third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch (AGP). The school’s new playing surface is a welcome addition to the existing facilities, which also include three grass pitches, and is expected to boost football participation by 266% across all ages. 

The 3G AGP will not only benefit the school’s pupils, who will get to take advantage of the pitch during PE lessons, but also its other users which include: partner clubs Greater Leys FC and Florence Park FC; Oxford Blackbirds FC; Horsporth YFC; Union Street FC; Littlemore RFC and local primary schools. 

The pitch will also serve as a key venue for the Oxfordshire Girls Centre of Excellence, run by Oxford United FC. As a result, female football participation at the site will rise by 462%. Additionally, the Oxford United Youth Community Sports Trust will use the new facility to run community outreach programmes, including Walking Football sessions. 

Thanks to the involvement of local disability charity Yellow Submarines, in partnership with the Mabel Pritchard SEN School, the pitch will also be used to provide disability football sessions, with the aim of establishing a team within one of the Academy’s partner clubs. 

The Oxford Academy worked alongside the Oxfordshire FA and the Football Foundation to compile a five-year Football Development Plan, which is a vision of how sport will be played on site with an emphasis on increasing participation. 

With the new playing surface being a key FA Skills delivery venue, as well as Florence Park FC’s sessions for four-11-year-olds, football participation at the site in those aged 14 and under is expected to increase by 221%. 

Overall, it is planned that 48 boys’ and 10 girls’ teams are introduced across the facility’s users. This will include eight youth and four adult female sides, as well as four male adult sides. This supports the expected boost of 515% in football participation for those over the age of 26. 

The Oxford Academy worked in partnership with the Oxfordshire FA to secure a £579,201 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund. 

Founded in 2000, the Football Foundation is the largest sports charity in the UK funded by the Premier League, The FA and Government, via Sport England. It develops new and refurbished grassroots sports facilities in order to improve the quality and experience of playing sport at the grassroots level. Since it was launched in 2000, the Foundation has awarded around 15,000 grants worth more than £580m towards improving grassroots sport, which it has used to attract additional partnership funding of over £800m – £1.4bn of investment into the grassroots game. 

Since 2000, the Football Foundation Funding Partners’ investment has provided 151 grants worth £5.1m towards grassroots sports projects worth over £13m across the whole of Oxfordshire

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. 

Matthew Brandish, Community Operations Manager for the Oxford Academy, said: “The Oxford Academy would like to thank the Football Foundation and the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund for the support and funding provided for this project. As a facility we have struggled to accommodate local sports clubs for their training and fixtures in recent years. 

“This new facility will enable us to provide a state-of-the-art facility, along with our current facilities, to local community clubs. As a school, one of our objectives is to serve the community in the evenings and weekends. This project has allowed us to take a step closer to achieving this.” 

Andy Earnshaw, Oxfordshire FA Business & Facility Development Manager, said: “This is a fantastic boost to the game in South-East Oxford and will provide much needed training facilities for local clubs. With a strong football development plan now in place we are looking forward to seeing the positive impact this will bring.”

Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said: “The Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund provides the investment necessary to improve grassroots football facilities. So, I am delighted to see the Oxford Academy join thousands of local clubs and organisations who have reaped its benefit, in this case through the opening of a new 3G AGP. My thanks go to the Oxford United FC players who took the time to unveil the facility. 

“Having delivered over £1.4bn of grassroots sports infrastructure projects, the Football Foundation has developed a network of accessible, first-class facilities in areas they will have the greatest impact – thanks to money from the Premier League, The FA and the Government via Sport England. 

“These facilities are more than places to play football at, these facilities are hubs of physical activity, the bedrock of local communities and ‘homes from home’ for so many who also use them as social outlets to learn new skills, gain work experience and other qualifications.”

ENDS

For more information, please contact:
- Matthew Brandish on 01865 774 311 Ext: 2111 or at matthew.brandish@theoxfordacademy.org.uk
- Sophie Huby on 0345 345 4555 Ext: 4292 or at sophie.huby@footballfoundation.org.uk



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"This new facility will enable us to provide a state-of-the-art facility, along with our current facilities, to local community clubs. As a school, one of our objectives is to serve the community in the evenings and weekends. This project has allowed us to take a step closer to achieving this."- Matthew Brandish, Community Operations Manager for the Oxford Academy

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