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Former Argyle ace opens new all-weather surface for the Plymouth community

Former Argyle ace opens new all-weather surface for the Plymouth community

Date published: 30/04/2018
New all-weather pitch opens in Plymouth to boost grassroots sport
Ian Stonebridge, former Plymouth Argyle FC player (third from right), was joined by a number of guests for the opening of Plympton Academy's new all-weather facility including Tom Sampson (centre right) and Chairman Bernard Leach (fourth from right) of the Devon FA.

Former Plymouth Argyle FC player Ian Stonebridge, who now coaches for the club, was on-hand to officially open a state-of-the-art third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch (AGP) for Plympton Academy recently (Saturday 28 April). Their new facility was made possible thanks to investment from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which is delivered by the Football Foundation.

The grant enabled Plympton Academy to install a new 3G AGP, replacing a natural grass pitch that offered limited playing capacity. In addition, the Academy’s existing sports facilities have been reconfigured so that the site now boasts one full-size and one junior grass football pitch, alongside the new all-weather playing surface.  

The new pitch has increased the capacity and flexibility of the Academy’s facilities thanks to it being usable under floodlights during the evening, as well as in harsh weather conditions that can render grass pitches unplayable. This will not only benefit the school’s pupils, but also players from partner clubs AFC Plympton and Chadlewood Miners FC.

Plymouth Argyle FC Community Trust also plan to use the site to deliver community outreach programmes, such as school holiday football camps for local children. Plympton Academy's new pitch unveiling follows the opening of another new football facility for the area, a changing pavilion for Holsworthy Town Council, officially opened by current Plymouth Argyle FC player Gary Sawyer earlier this month.

Plympton Academy were awarded a £397,013 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund towards the project. The Academy and its partner clubs worked alongside the Football Foundation and the Devon FA 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.

The new pitch is set to enable the two partner clubs to increase their collective number of teams from 31 to 43. This will support a predicted increase of nearly 200 players between the two clubs, and is expected to result in a 138% increase in football participation in the over-26 age bracket. This is thanks to the formation of new open-age and veterans leagues.

Moreover, the number of female players using the site is expected to double, with five new women and girls’ teams creating a 96% increase in participation within that demographic. Overall, football participation at the site is predicted to increase by 73%.   

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 over 17,000 grants worth more than £615m towards improving grassroots sport, which it has used to attract additional partnership funding of £817m – £1.4bn of investment into the grassroots game.

Since 2000, the Football Foundation Funding Partners’ investment has provided 222 grants worth £10.3m towards grassroots sports projects worth over £19.6m across the whole of Devon.

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.

Teresa Lakeman, Business Director for Plympton Academy, said: “We would like to thank Plymouth City and local ward Councillor Patrick Nicholson, Deputy Council Leader and local Councillor David James for joining us to officially open our fabulous new facility, and also our partner Clubs for joining us to celebrate the opening though showcasing the use they are making already of the pitch. 

“Our students and the local community will enjoy many years of use thanks to the generous support of the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund. This new facility represents a considerable improvement in grassroots sport for Plympton and the academy will continue to work with the local community to maximise access to our facilities.”

Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said: “Grassroots sport plays an important role in communities across the UK, creating opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds. That is why I am delighted that Plympton Academy has now opened their state-of-the-art all-weather pitch in Plymouth, thanks to investment from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund.

“Continuing to improve access to high-quality facilities like this one is a key aim for the Premier League, The FA and the Government. Delivered by the Football Foundation, their funding supports projects for clubs and organisations all over the country and is helping to boost the number of people benefiting from sport through better facilities.

“Grassroots football provides so many benefits for members of the community, not least of which is the opportunity to enjoy themselves. Love for our national game, something that can be found across the country, is an integral part of what drives the Foundation and its Funding Partners to keep increasing the standards and quality of our facilities.”


For more information, please contact:
- Sophie Huby on 0345 345 4555 Ext: 4292 or at sophie.huby@footballfoundation.org.uk
- Teresa Lakeman on 01752 333 828 or at lakemant@plympton.academy 


“Our students and the local community will enjoy many years of use thanks to the generous support of the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund."Teresa Lakeman, Business Director for Plympton Academy