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Jesse Norman MP impressed by new hub for community football at The Hereford Academy

Jesse Norman MP impressed by new hub for community football at The Hereford Academy

Date published: 02/07/2018
Jesse Norman MP impressed by new hub for community football at The Hereford Academy
Jesse Norman MP (centre left) was joined by Bruce Freeman (centre right), Chair of Governors of The Hereford Academy, Dan Chance (right) and Steve Wilmott (centre) from Herefordshire FA and Hereford FC Director, Paul Quarrel (second from left), to officially open the new facility.

Jesse Norman, MP for Hereford and South Herefordshire, officially unveiled a new third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch (AGP) at The Hereford Academy recently (Friday 29 June 2018). He was joined on the day by Jonathan Walker, Chief Executive of the Herefordshire FA, who was similarly pleased to see the facility officially opened.

The upgraded 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 the Academy, working in partnership with The Bishop Anthony Educational Trust, to resurface their existing 3G AGP to offer users a state-of-the-art playing surface.

This means the school’s students and the local community can continue to safely enjoy a range of sports on-site, even during the winter months, at the only all-weather facility of its kind in the county. The refurbished playing surface will join the Academy’s existing full-size grass pitches and training area, as well as a two team changing pavilion at their Marlbrook Road site. This will provide a first class sports hub, which can be used throughout the year.

As well as The Hereford Academy students, local grassroots clubs Pegasus FC, Hinton FC and Belmont FC will use the facility on a weekly basis. Each club will now be able to cater for higher demand from the local community, thanks to the surface being still being available in bad weather conditions, which would render many grass pitches unplayable.

Hereford FC will be delivering sessions through their Academy and Community arms. In addition, the Herefordshire FA will continue to use the site as its principal venue, regularly delivering a number of coaching courses at the facility. 

The Hereford Academy were awarded a £150,548 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund towards the project. The school worked alongside the Football Foundation and the Herefordshire 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.

It is expected that the site will see an increase of over 600 regular users at the Academy’s facility over the five years, supported by plans for the school’s partner clubs to introduce a total of 18 new sides. This will result in the cumulative number of teams increasing from 39 to 67, with a 72% boost in participation for Under-14 footballers predicted as a result.  

Local female football participation is expected to grow by 55% thanks to the creation of 12 new grassroots teams at the site. This will also be aided by the formation of a new female football league, for which the site will be a primary venue. Herefordshire FA will also support participation in the adult age brackets, through the introduction of walking football sessions.

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 55 grants worth £1.8m towards grassroots sports projects worth almost £14m across the whole of Herefordshire.

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.

Jesse Norman, MP for Hereford and South Herefordshire, said: “I am delighted to open officially the new all-weather pitch at The Hereford Academy. Facilities like this are vital in any community, and I am proud to see such investment from the Premier League, the FA and the Government, via Sport England, here in Hereford.

“I’m also extremely pleased to hear of the projected increases in sports participation now expected here. The physical and mental benefits of regular sports participation are beyond doubt. Projects like this also support local industry, creating jobs during their construction and delivery. 

"I would encourage as many people as possible to make the most of the new opportunities provided by this state-of-the-art facility.”   

Jonathan Walker, Chief Executive of the Herefordshire FA, said: “The HFA were delighted to be able to support this project, which provides local clubs as well as the wider footballing population of Herefordshire access to a first class playing surface.”

Bruce Freeman, Chair of Governors at The Hereford Academy, said: “We are most grateful to our local MP, Jesse Norman, for officially opening our new 3G AGP. We would also like to thank the Premier League, The FA and the Government for their financial support for the new pitch. The pitch is a much valued community and school facility here in South Wye and will be used 7 days a week, both during the day and in the evenings. This will, unquestionably, provide more opportunities for the development of grass roots football in Herefordshire throughout the year.”

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 The Hereford Academy has now opened their state-of-the-art 3G pitch in South Wye, Hereford, 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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The physical and mental benefits of regular sports participation are beyond doubt. Projects like this also support local industry, creating jobs during their construction and delivery. - Jesse Norman, MP for Hereford and South Herefordshire

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