101 year-old Supporter of the Year unveils new sports complex in Cambridgeshire
On Saturday 28th April, Cambridgeshire FA kicked off the official opening of the 3G pitch at Bottisham with a Next Generation Festival on the new 3G pitch at Bottisham Village College. Next Generation Festivals are for under 7 teams with the ethos of fun, inclusion and respect. 14 teams took part in the festival with 140 children enjoying a fantastic environment for youth football. Each team had two FA qualified coaches and FA Coach Mentors Ben Farmer and Guy Habbin were on hand to support. Each pitch had a newly qualified referee with a referee mentor to support them throughout the games. Facilities & Participation Manager Jo Bull said “It was great to see so many children enjoying such a good environment for football on a fantastic new facility. This facility provides an opportunity for participation, coach/referee and player development and we hope to see many more facilities like this funded in the future.”
The state-of-the-art third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch (AGP) was then officially unveiled by FA Respect ‘Supporter of the Year’ John Shannon and Bottisham Village College’s Principal, Jenny Rankine, in Cambridge recently (Saturday 28 April). The new facility was made possible thanks to investment from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which is delivered by the Football Foundation.
The FA Respect ‘Supporter of the Year’ for 2017/18, John Shannon, was delighted to attend the official opening. Mr Shannon, who is 101 years old and has been involved in sports from a young age, also made a brief speech highlighting how impressed he was with the College’s new football facility and what it means for the local community.
The grant enabled the College to install the all-weather pitch, which will be used by its students as well as partner club Bottisham FC and other local grassroots clubs, including Exning United FC, Soham Town FC and Cambridge City FC. The Cambridgeshire FA will also use the new playing surface to support their existing 11v11 and small-sided flexi-leagues.
Additionally, local professional clubs Norwich City FC and Cambridge United FC both plan to use the facility to deliver community outreach sessions, such as holiday camps. ‘Red to Green’, a local adult disability group, are already based on-site and the College will work with them to create disability football provision.
Bottisham Village College were awarded a £265,527 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund towards the project. The College worked alongside the Football Foundation and the Cambridgeshire FA 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.
Partner club Bottisham FC currently has eight teams, but are expecting to increase to 17 thanks to access to the new all-weather pitch – four of which will be female sides. In addition to plans for a new disability team, this will boost on-site football participation by 327%. With Cambridgeshire FA’s flexi-leagues using the site, which will see 12 male and veteran teams and five female teams using the facility, a 591% boost in football participation for those over the age of 26 is also expected.
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 over 17,000 grants worth more than £615m towards improving grassroots sport, which it has used to attract additional partnership funding of £817m – £1.4bn of investment into the grassroots game.
Since 2000, the Football Foundation Funding Partners’ investment has provided 196 grants worth £5.4m towards grassroots sports projects worth over £16.3m across the whole of Cambridgeshire.
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.
Jenny Rankine, Principal of Bottisham Village College, said: “This exciting new facility will greatly enhance the PE and school sport experience for all the students of Bottisham Village College and its wider community. The state-of-the-art floodlit 3G AGP will allow us to expand our curriculum provision and will be used by students in and out of lessons during the day. Furthermore, it will allow us to further participation in the local community and develop opportunities to inspire all ages and ability levels to be physically active.
“We have a strong tradition of football success and we look forward to strengthening and developing further partnerships with local clubs and continuing to raise standards of grassroots community sport. We would like to thank the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund for their contribution towards this scheme and providing such a wonderful facility, accessible to all.”
Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said: “Grassroots sport plays an important role in communities across the UK, creating opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds. That is why I am delighted that Bottisham Village College has now opened their new all-weather pitch in Cambridgeshire, thanks to investment from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund.
“Continuing to improve access to high-quality facilities like this one is a key aim for the Premier League, The FA and the Government. Delivered by the Football Foundation, their funding supports projects for clubs and organisations all over the country and is helping to boost the number of people benefiting from sport through better facilities.
“Grassroots football provides so many benefits for members of the community, not least of which is the opportunity to enjoy themselves. Love for our national game, something that can be found across the country, is an integral part of what drives the Foundation and its Funding Partners to keep increasing the standards and quality of our facilities.”