The pitch, at the University’s Walsall Campus, was opened during half-time of the British Universities and College Sports (BUCS) National Trophy match between the University’s Women’s first football team and the Stirling University on 23rd November.
Representatives from the University’s Institute of Sport and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Geoff Layer were joined by guests from the Football Foundation, Walsall captain Adam Chambers and Wolves players Nouha Dicko and Jordan Graham.
The new 3G pitch is expected 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-site, with a particular focus placed on leadership 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’ also 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 and 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.
We are 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 – Bess Evans, Deputy Director of the Institute of Sport at the University of Wolverhampton
Bess Evans, Deputy Director of the Institute of Sport at the University of Wolverhampton, said: “We are 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.”
Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said: “I am delighted that a grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund has enabled the University of Wolverhampton to build a fantastic new 3G pitch that will be used by such a large number of students and local citizens. This development will provide a real boost to sport in the local area and a special thanks must go to Walsall FC’s Adam Chambers and Erhun Oztumer for opening the new facility.
“Since 2000, the Football Foundation has supported grassroots projects worth more than £1.4bn, investing into areas where the need is greatest and where it will have the biggest impact in terms of getting more people playing football and a wide range of other sports.
“With this funding, provided by the Premier League, The FA and the Government, through Sport England, we are helping to improve community sports facilities across the country and thereby the playing experience of those who take part. This latest project in Walsall is the latest addition to the inventory of modern community sports sites we are developing that cater for the needs of local people who want to play sport purely for the love of it and to stay healthy.”