GEORGE SALTER ACADEMY UNVEILS TWO NEW PITCHES

The Deputy Mayor of Sandwell, Cllr. Susan Eaves, officially opened two state-of-the-art all-weather pitches at George Salter Academy yesterday (Wednesday 29 November), thanks to a grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which is delivered by the Football Foundation.

The grant has enabled George Salter Academy to replace their two existing sand-dressed artificial grass pitches – originally installed 12 years ago and in very poor condition – with brand new floodlit all-weather playing surfaces. They join the Academy’s two grass football pitches, converted from playing fields earlier in the year with the support of Sport England.

The new pitches, which will not only benefit the academy’s 1,330 pupils, but will also be used by partner clubs Tantany Lions FC and Greets Green Albion FC. Other community clubs will also have access to the new facility.

West Bromwich Albion FC, through its charity arm The Albion Foundation, has links with the school and plan to deliver development sessions on the large pitch including Premier League Kicks. Additionally, the Birmingham FA plan to deliver coaching and leadership education, as well as Safeguarding and Emergency Aid courses, at the facility.

George Salter Academy worked alongside the Birmingham FA and the Football Foundation 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 Academy’s two original AGPs were already well-used, and the more reliable surface provided by the new all-weather pitches will provide users with better scheduling flexibility. As a result, the partner clubs expect to introduce a total of 14 new teams, supporting the predicted 150% boost in football participation onsite across all ages.

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

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 around 15,000 grants worth more than £580m towards improving grassroots sport, which it has used to attract additional partnership funding of over £800m – £1.4bn of investment into the grassroots game.

Since 2000, the Football Foundation Funding Partners’ investment has provided 390 grants worth £21.4m towards grassroots sports projects worth over £49.9m 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.

Pank Patel, Principal of George Salter Academy, said: “Everyone at George Salter Academy is absolutely thrilled with the addition of these two state-of-the-art football pitches to our school. They will provide a fantastic opportunity to get more students involved and excited about sport. I’d like to thank the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund and The Albion Foundation for the support they’ve provided us with this project.”  

Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said: “The Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund provides the investment necessary to improve grassroots football facilities. So, I am delighted to see George Salter Academy join thousands of local clubs and organisations who have reaped its benefit, in this case through the opening of two artificial grass pitches.  

“Having delivered over £1.4bn of grassroots sports infrastructure projects, the Football Foundation has developed a network of accessible, first-class facilities in areas they will have the greatest impact – thanks to money from the Premier League, The FA and the Government via Sport England.  

“These facilities are more than places to play football at, these facilities are hubs of physical activity, the bedrock of local communities and ‘homes from home’ for so many who also use them as social outlets to learn new skills, gain work experience and other qualifications.”

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