Walsall FC Captain Adam Chambers joined Wolves players, Jordan Graham and Nouha Dicko, to officially unveil the University of Wolverhampton’s new state-of-the-art third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch (AGP) on Wednesday 23 November 2016.
The project was made possible thanks to a grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which is delivered by the Football Foundation.
The new 3G pitch is set to raise football participation by 86% and will be used all-year-round by the University’s recreational and competitive clubs, alongside a number of local grassroots organisations, including: Silverdale FC; The Walsall Junior League and The Walsall Adult League.
Walsall FC’s Community Programme will also deliver weekly sessions on the new all-weather surface, focusing on leadership development courses, and raising participation in girls’ and walking football.
Through this project, the University of Wolverhampton established a five-year Football Development Plan (FDP) – a long-term vision of how sport will be played at the new facility – alongside the Football Foundation and Staffordshire FA. The University’s Sport Development Manager will help deliver the FDP outcomes, with a new ‘Female Football Activator’ to be introduced on-site to help raise women’s participation.
The project was made possible thanks to a £465,047 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which provides grants towards developing new or refurbished grassroots football facilities. It is funded by the Premier League, The FA, and the Government, via Sport England, and is delivered by the Football Foundation, the country’s largest sports charity.
Since it was launched in 2000, the Foundation has awarded around 15,000 grants worth nearly £580m towards improving grassroots sport, which it has used to attract additional partnership funding of just under £800m – over £1.4bn of investment into the grassroots game.
Since 2000, the Football Foundation Funding Partners’ investment has provided 200 grants worth nearly £17m towards grassroots sports projects worth over £33m across the whole of Staffordshire.
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.
Adam Chambers, Captain of Walsall FC, said: “This was a great chance to witness all the brilliant work being put in to local community sport. The pitch is absolutely first-class and it’s great to see both Walsall and Wolves players coming together to support local grassroots facilities.
“Having spoken to people involved in the project, it’s exciting to hear how many local grassroots clubs will benefit, and I’d like to thank the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund who have provided significant financial investment towards this new all-weather pitch.”
Nouha Dicko, Wolves striker, said: “I really enjoyed helping open the new 3G pitch here at the University of Wolverhampton. These facilities are so important in developing the next generation of young talent, with kids able to hone their skills on a top quality playing surface.
“A massive well done to all involved – the University, Staffordshire FA and importantly, the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund – for making this project such a success.”
Valerie Vaz, MP for Walsall South, said: “I am really pleased to see the University of Wolverhampton open their new all-weather pitch at its Walsall campus. This new state-of-the-art facility will prove a valuable sporting asset not only to the University, but to the many grassroots clubs throughout the local community.
“Local residents and students will now benefit from a fantastic new community sports hub. I would like to congratulate everyone involved for their hard work on making this project a success and for securing the substantial investment from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund.”
Bess Evans, Deputy Director of the Institute of Sport, University of Wolverhampton, said: “We were delighted to have been awarded this grant through the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund. This new 3G AGP facility will benefit the whole region, and will be massive for the development of grassroots sport in the area.”