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“I wish I could have played on this as a kid” Rio Ferdinand opens refurbished 3G pitch in Blackpool

“I wish I could have played on this as a kid” Rio Ferdinand opens refurbished 3G pitch in Blackpool

Date published: 12 December 2018

Press release

“I wish I had this when I was a kid to play on” Rio Ferdinand opens refurbished 3G pitch in Blackpool

Manchester United and England legend, Rio Ferdinand opened a fully refurbished third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch (AGP) at Stanley Park in Blackpool recently (Tuesday 11 December). The 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 Blackpool Council to overhaul the existing floodlit sand-based AGP to create a 98m x 62m AGP. The existing floodlighting system at the site has been retained to ensure that the facility is available during the evenings thereby increasing capacity and availability.

The new all-weather pitch, which is part of a town wide approach to developing football in Blackpool, will provide continued and extended use for numerous local partner community clubs, including: Clifton Rangers FC, FC Rangers and Blackpool FC Girls and Ladies. As well as the partner clubs, the Poulton & District Primary League and Blackpool and Fylde Sunday Alliance will benefit from the improved facilities.

As part of a pro-club link with the council, Blackpool FC will use the refurbished facilities as a training base for their girls’ and ladies’ teams. In addition, Blackpool Council’s sports development team will deliver a range of programmes including ManVFat and walking football.

Blackpool Council were awarded a £308,133 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund towards the project. The council worked alongside the Football Foundation and the Lancashire County 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 number of teams using the new pitch is set to grow from 60 to 86 teams in junior and adult formats, with 15 new female teams created. This will support a predicted increase of over 150 female players and is expected to result in an 85% growth in football participation within this demographic.

Significant growth in the number of Under-14 footballers using the site is also expected. This has been identified as a key objective to deliver and is expected to result in nearly 200 new players, which will be supported by the formation of 21 teams within this age group.

Since 2000, the Football Foundation Funding Partners’ investment has provided 503 grants worth £13.9m towards grassroots sports projects worth over £32.3m across the whole of Lancashire.

Former Manchester United and England defender, Rio Ferdinand, said: “I wish I could have played on this as a kid and that’s what it’s all about, giving kids a better place to come and play football. A facility like this refurbished 3G pitch can only be beneficial to the community. You need more sites like this one at Stanley Park to engage with people and encourage them to get more active.”

Councillor Maria Kirkland, Cabinet Member for Leisure Services said: “It is fantastic to see this level of investment into modernising Blackpool’s football provision.  There is clearly the demand for such facilities that will continue to support and develop grass roots football in the local area.  I’d like to thank Rio Ferdinand for officially opening the facility and for the hard work of all partners involved in securing funding through the Premier League & FA Facilities Fund to deliver this project.”

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 Blackpool Council has now opened their state-of-the-art 3G pitch in Stanley Park, 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.”

ENDS

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Quote

“I wish I could have played on this as a kid and that’s what it’s all about, giving kids a better place to come and play football.- Former Manchester United and England, Rio Ferdinand 

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