Former Premier League striker Chris Sutton unveiled a brand new £500,000 changing pavilion at Holbeach United Community Sports Academy.
The venture took place thanks to a £340,000 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which is delivered by the Football Foundation and provides grants towards developing new or refurbished grassroots football facilities.
Sutton, who played for Norwich City FC, Blackburn Rovers FC and Celtic FC among other clubs during his long career, opened the new facility, which comprises six new real grass pitches, four changing rooms complete with shower facilities, two officials’ rooms, plant storage and kitchen and community hall. The club worked in partnership with the Lincolnshire FA to secure a £340,000 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund.
Danny Andrew, who currently plays for Fleetwood Town FC and came through Holbeach United FC’s youth academy, was also present at the opening.
The grant has enabled Holbeach United Community Sports Academy to create a purpose built home to continue its work in catering for grassroots football within the local community. This new facility will become home to Holbeach United Youth FC, but will also be available to local community groups. Holbeach United FC currently has 14 affiliated teams but this new facility will expand its provision to 22 squads, including the introduction of female sides.
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 13,000 grants worth more than £530m towards improving grassroots sport, which it has used to attract additional partnership funding of over £740m – over £1.3bn of investment into the grassroots game.
Since 2000 the Football Foundation Funding Partners’ investment has provided 211 grants worth £12m towards grassroots sports projects worth over £39m across the whole of Lincolnshire.
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.
Sutton said: “I was delighted to open this fantastic facility in Holbeach, which was made possible thanks to funding from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund and delivered by the Football Foundation. It is clear what a difference facilities like this will make to the team and the local community – this will be a hub for football.
“I appreciate the importance of good, grassroots facilities. The difference these types of projects make to the health and well-being of the local community is tremendous, and, moreover, quality facilities can only help to create fantastic young players.”
Andrew said, “I have fond memories of Holbeach. Their facilities acted as a springboard for my professional career. With the addition of this changing pavilion to the club, hopefully more youth players will be able to come through the ranks.”
Philip Barnes, Holbeach United Community Sports Academy chairman/trustee, said: “Special thanks must go to former Premier League and Scottish Premier League star Chris Sutton for officially opening the facility. Our gratitude is also extended to the late John King and his son Ashley from Ashley King Developments, Gary Johnson from LK2 Consultants, Stuart Clark, Des Ford, Neal Collishaw, Chris Stebbings, Trustees, Holbeach United Youth FC committee and to the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund for granting the funds for this exciting project.
“This new grassroots facility will not only now mean that Holbeach United Youth FC teams will have a permanent football home but the local community will also be able to benefit and use this new purpose built facility.”
Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said: “I am delighted that a grant from the Premier League & FA Facilities Fund has enabled Holbeach United Community Sports Academy to create this fantastic new changing pavilion. This development will provide a real boost to sport in the local area. A special thanks must also go to Chris Sutton for taking the time to open the facility.
“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. 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 Holbeach 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 if it and to stay healthy.”