MP Opens New Football Pitch


Jamie Reed, MP for Copeland, officially opened Whitehaven AFC’s new £516,000 third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch (AGP) in Cumbria recently (Saturday 3 September 2016), an event at which the Emirates FA Cup was also on show.

The project was made possible thanks to a £448,954 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which provides grants towards developing new or refurbished grassroots football facilities.

The grant has enabled the club to upgrade their existing 3G playing surface, providing a top quality football hub for both training and competition ahead of the 2016/17 season. The facility will be used by a range of grassroots clubs, including: Bransty FC, Whitehaven Milners FC, Hillcrest FC, St Bees FC and Cleator Moor Celtic FC.

Through this project, the club worked in close partnership with the Football Foundation and Cumberland FA to develop a five-year Football Development Plan (FDP) – a long term vision for how sport will be played at the new facility – projected to establish three new female teams for Whitehaven AFC and increase on-site participation by 70%.

The Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund is funded by the Premier League, The FA, and the Government, via Sport England. It 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 £1.3bn of investment into the grassroots game.

Since 2000, the Football Foundation Funding Partners’ investment has provided 46 grants worth nearly £4m towards grassroots sports projects worth over £6m across the whole of Cumberland.

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.

Jamie Reed, MP for Copeland, said: “I was delighted to help open Whitehaven AFC’s new fantastic 3G football pitch. The site acts as a great sporting hub for the local community, helping increase participation among children and adults. After the great success of our athletes at the Olympic Games, it is vital that people are provided with the facilities to take part in sport and enjoy it as a regular feature of their everyday lives. It’s critically important for a healthy life, thriving community and an even better NHS that we do this.

“This great new facility will provide exactly that and I would like to thank everyone at the club for their dedication and exceptionally hard work to deliver these improvements. Huge credit should also go to the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund for their financial support in ensuring that this project has become a reality.”

Martin Curwen, Junior Chairman of Whitehaven AFC, said: “I would like thank our MP Jamie Reed and Dave Polkey from Atkins for officially opening the facility today. This would not have been possible without the amazing work carried out by the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund.

“We would also like to thank the Copeland Community Fund for their assistance and funding to help deliver this project. West Cumbria football had taken a terrible hit in recent times with the likes of storm Desmond ruining pitches throughout the County. There is no doubt that this facility will improve 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 Whitehaven AFC to upgrade their 3G AGP. This development will provide a real boost to sport in the local area.

“Since 2000, the Football Foundation has supported grassroots projects worth more than £1.3bn, 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. Thanks must go to Jamie Reed MP for helping open the new facility.

“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 Whitehaven 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.”

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