Students at Ferndale Primary School can now enjoy enhanced playing opportunities after West Bromwich Albion FC Ladies manager, Louis Sowe and defender, Anna Wilcox officially opened the school’s new small-sided all-weather pitch recently (Tuesday 25 June).
The new 20m x 13m floodlit third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch (AGP) was made possible thanks to investment from the Premier League, The FA and Government’s Football Foundation.
After netting a £145,480 grant from the Football Foundation, work begun on the site in January 2019. Following the opening of the new community pitch, students can now enjoy playing on a first-class surface throughout the day next to the school’s running track which supports training and alternative exercise.
Prior to the installation of the new pitch the school did not have access to its own high-quality sports facilities and was reliant on grass pitches which were often waterlogged or deemed unplayable during the harsh winter months.
Ferndale Primary School is committed to physical and mental health support and has developed partnerships with the Albion Foundation (West Bromwich Albion FC) to deliver Premier League Primary Stars, disability and girls’ football sessions on the new pitch. With below average participation levels in girls and women’s football at the school, Birmingham FA identified this as a key area of the game to address.
Ruth Gillett, Headteacher at Ferndale Primary School, said: “Thank you to Louis Sowe and Anna Wilcox for officially opening our mini-pitch. The values of Ferndale Primary School match well with those of the Premier League and The FA, so to be able to access the Football Foundation funding to fulfil these values for so many children in our community fills us with pride. Investing in the running track alongside the pitch really shows how committed we are to supporting the health and wellbeing of our youngest children and we are excited about how this will improve grassroots sport.”
Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said: “The support of the Premier League, The FA and government enables the Football Foundation to help improve community sports facilities like this one across the country. Their funding has played a key role in delivering this new all-weather pitch in Birmingham and I am delighted for everyone associated with Ferndale Primary School.
“This is one example we want to make people in Birmingham aware of, that they have the kind of quality pitches and changing rooms that are taken for granted in other counties. We will continue to support projects nationwide, but we cannot do this on our own, so we are encouraging organisations in the area to join our movement to deliver quality football facilities for people in Birmingham once and for all.
“Taking part in community sport at any level offers many benefits and rewards, not least the opportunity for people to enjoy themselves and socialise with different members of the community."