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Tom Watson MP impressed by football facilities at George Salter Academy

Tom Watson MP impressed by football facilities at George Salter Academy

Date published: 25/06/2018
Tom Watson MP impressed by football facilities at George Salter Academy
Staff and pupils at George Salter Academy, including the school's Principal, Adrian Price, welcomed Tom Watson MP for a tour of their state-of-the-art pitches recently - with a number of students taking the opportunity to show off their skills.

Tom Watson, MP for West Bromwich East, was delighted to receive an official tour of George Salter Academy’s two third generation (3G) artificial grass pitches (AGPs) and other sports facilities recently (Friday 22 June). The new playing surfaces were made possible by a grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which is delivered by the Football Foundation.

The investment helped George Salter Academy to install the state-of-the-art pitches, which were officially opened by the Deputy Mayor of Sandwell, Cllr. Susan Eaves, in November 2017. The new playing surfaces have replaced the school’s existing sand-dressed artificial grass pitches, which had fallen into a state of disrepair due to their age.

The new all-weather facilities are in addition to the Academy’s two grass pitches, which also benefited from the Premier League & The FA Facilities grant. The project included surface and drainage improvement works for the full-size pitch and 9v9 pitch on-site, in addition to upgrading the 3G AGPs.

The project is already benefiting a number of users, not least of which is the Academy’s own pupils. Students and community members can take advantage of outreach sessions, such as Premier League Kicks, delivered on-site by the Albion Foundation – the charity arm of West Bromwich Albion FC.

Other users include the school’s two partner clubs, Tantany Lions FC and Greets Green Albion FC. Birmingham FA is also using the site for a range of sessions such as Safeguarding and Emergency Aid courses. The project has helped the school to provide the local area with state-of-the-art playing surfaces and users are making the most of the improved scheduling flexibility.

George Salter Academy were awarded a £462,000 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund towards the project. The school also contributed £100,000 to the project, and were supported in their funding bid by their sponsor, Ormiston Academies Trust.

Birmingham FA and the Football Foundation helped the Academy to develop a five-year Football Development Plan, setting out a vision for grassroots football and improving participation on-site. The school’s previous facilities were already in high demand before the project, and the improved reliability of the all-weather pitches will support 14 new teams being introduced in the next five years. This will result in a 150% increase in overall football participation on-site.

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 389 grants worth £21.3m towards grassroots sports projects worth over £49.5m across the whole of Birmingham.

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.

Tom Watson MP, who is also Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, said: “The George Salter Academy’s all-weather pitches are just excellent – I’m so pleased to have been invited for a tour of these superb facilities. It is great to see first-hand the effects that funding from the Premier League, The FA and the Government is having on community sports facilities.

“I know how important grassroots football is, not just here in Sandwell, but across the country. It offers so much more than just a kick-about. It’s about making friends, having fun, knowing the importance of discipline on and off the pitch, learning how to win… and how to lose. These are proper meaningful skills for life… and you get to get fit in the process! The Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which is being delivered by the Football Foundation supporting projects like this across England, plays a vital role in making all this possible. It’s changing lives.”

Adrian Price, Principal of George Salter Academy, said: “I am delighted to have Tom Watson MP tour our state-of-the-art football pitches. They will provide a fantastic opportunity for more students and the local community to be involved in sports, with a particular aim of developing girls’ football. I would like to thank the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund for the support they’ve provided for this project.”

ENDS

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"I’m so pleased to have been invited for a tour of these superb facilities. It is great to see first-hand the effects that funding from the Premier League, The FA and the Government is having on community sports facilities." - Tom Watson, MP for West Bromwich East

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