Emma Coates, Doncaster Rovers Belles LFC manager, unveiled Sherburn High School’s brand new all-weather pitch recently (Wednesday 19 July). The state-of-the-art surface was unveiled in North Yorkshire thanks to a grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which is delivered by the Football Foundation.
The grant has enabled the school and partner club Sherburn White Rose FC (SWRFC) to replace their original grass pitches with a floodlit third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch (AGP) that can be used all-year-round, complete with spectator viewing area.
The site will be used by Sherburn High School to deliver activities for pupils and sessions for school teams, including training and fixtures. The school hopes that the new pitch will help them to increase their number of amateur teams from five to nine.
Sherburn White Rose, who will also use the 3G AGP for training and matches, expect to increase their number of teams from 11 to 24, including the introduction of four new female sides. SWRFC, which plays in the West Yorkshire Association Football League Premier Division, will use the pitch to strengthen pathways for younger players into the senior section of the club.
Both the school and the club worked alongside the West Riding County 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 site is expected to become a hub for girls’ football, supported by the WRCFA and the Leeds United Foundation (LUF). It is expected that the pitch will become a venue for the LUF Girls Regional Talent Centre, which will help to progress local players through the FA Girls England pathway.
The new facility is expected to boost overall sports participation at the site by 127% and football participation by 248% across all ages. This is helped by SWRFC’s plans to use the pitch to establish a second open-age side in their senior section, helping boost local football participation in those over the age of 26 by 933%.
Other users of the site will include; the West Riding FA Under-21 Development League; the Selby Junior League; the Garforth Junior League and South Milford FC. It is also hoped that the pitch will be a venue for the Ability Counts league and bespoke disability coaching delivered by the LUF.
The club worked in partnership with the West Riding FA to secure a £245,831 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund.
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 566 grants worth £21.1m towards grassroots sports projects worth over £43.2m across the whole of West Riding.
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.
Maria Williams, Headteacher of Sherburn High School, said: “This is a very exciting opportunity, not only for the school but also the wider community. Sports training and fixtures will no longer need to be cancelled due to poor weather and wet pitches.
“Ensuring that all students have healthy lifestyles and participate in sport is a key driver for the school and the proposed pitch will certainly help to realise this ambition.”
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 Sherburn High School to upgrade their playing fields to a new all-weather pitch. 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 £1.4bn, 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 Sherburn-in-Elmet 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.”
Official press release authorised by Sport England and the FA.