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New all-weather facility at Roundwood Park School will help to more than double the number of girls playing football

New all-weather facility at Roundwood Park School will help to more than double the number of girls playing football

Date published: 14/09/2018
New all-weather facility at Roundwood Park School will help to more than double the number of girls playing football
The new all-weather pitch at Roundwood Park School is officially opened by from left to right, Headteacher, Alan Henshall, Alan Smith, David Clarke and Natasha Dowie.

Former Arsenal striker Alan Smith was among a trio of famous names from the football world on-hand to officially open a third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch (AGP) at Roundwood Park School recently (Thursday 13 September).

Alan was joined by England international Natasha Dowie and three-time Team GB Paralympic five-a-side footballer David Clarke, as well as Bim Afolami, MP for Harpenden.

The new facility at the school was made possible thanks to investment from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which is delivered by the Football Foundation.

With no other full-size 3G AGP pitches within a five mile radius, the grant enabled Roundwood Park School to install a new state-of-the-art artificial surface, replacing a grass pitch that was unsuitable for football due to inadequate drainage and the inability to withstand the harsh weather conditions.

The new pitch has been installed with floodlights, enabling increased capacity and availability of the school’s facilities thanks to it being usable during the evening. Not only will pupils at the school benefit from the facility, but also players from partner club, Harpenden Colts FC, who operate 60 teams and use eight different venues for training.

Watford FC Community Sports & Education Trust also plan to use the site to deliver weekly sessions targeting female and disabled football in addition to regular summer holiday coaching and coach education workshops.

Roundwood Park School were awarded a £500,000 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund towards the project. The school worked alongside the Football Foundation and Hertfordshire 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.

It is expected that the new pitch will contribute towards over 1,250 people participating in sporting activity at the site, which represents a growth of 172%. It is also predicted that the biggest increase in new users will come from the Under-14 age category, where over 730 new users are anticipated across the five years.

Significant growth in the number of females using the site to play football is also expected. Nearly 160 new players will more than double the number of girls playing football. This has been identified as a key objective to deliver and is expected to create a 240% increase in participation within that demographic.

Since 2000, the Football Foundation Funding Partners’ investment has provided 208 grants worth £10.8m towards grassroots sports projects worth over £19.5m across the whole of Hertfordshire.

Tony Smith, Roundwood Park School Business Manager, said: “To see the transformation of an old and tired muddy field into a world class facility which we now have the privilege to use is a great achievement not only for the school, but for all of those who have been involved in the process.

“I’d like to thank, Alan Smith, Natasha Dowe, David Clarke, local MP, Bim Afolami and Harpenden Town Mayor, David Heritage, for officially opening the pitch. My thanks also go to the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, Harpenden Colts FC and all of the parents of Roundwood Park School for making this day possible.”

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 Roundwood Park School has now opened their state-of-the-art all weather pitch in Harpenden, 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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“To see the transformation of an old and tired muddy field into a world class facility which we now have the privilege to use is a great achievement not only for the school, but for all of those who have been involved in the process.” - 
Tony Smith, Roundwood Park School Business Manager

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