Tuesday 12 February 2013
After opening a state-of-the-art sports complex in the very place where he first learned to play football, Newcastle United striker Shola Ameobi hailed the millions being reinvested in grassroots football by the Premier League as "a great achievement".
"I can’t impress enough how much of a difference it makes"
Ameobi, along with his younger brother and fellow Newcastle striker Sammy, returned to their roots on Tuesday when they unveiled the revamped Walker Activity Dome sports centre, which has undergone a second phase of redevelopment thanks to a £338,819 grant from the Premier League’s Community Facility Fund (PLCFF).
"The Walker Activity Dome is where I used to train and play with my first football club, Walker Central," Ameobi told Premierleague.com.
"It brings back a lot of memories. Back then there were grass pitches and a running track, but the actual centre had been open for quite a while so it wasn't the best. Now, though, it's great to see it in its revamped state - it's in pristine condition and with all the mod-cons it's great for the local community."
The complex has been fitted with new lighting, a new playing surface and accessible changing facilities, and the PLCFF grant will also help to fund a football development programme in partnership with Newcastle United Foundation - helping to increase sports participation in the Walker area.
"I can't impress enough how much of a difference it makes," added Ameobi. "Having somewhere like this made a difference in my and my brother's life also. Having facilities to come and practise and improve. It’s important for every community to have a place for kids to come and enjoy themselves and also for them to be active, for health reasons."
The Premier League Community Facility Fund (PLCFF), funded by the Premier League and delivered by the Football Foundation, is investing £18m over three years to develop new or refurbished sports facilities for local people across the country.
"It's important that a lasting legacy is being created by the Premier League by re-investing in the community"
The Fund is open to all football club community-led organisations from the Premier League, Football League, and Football Conference, including the Conference North and South Divisions.
"It's so important," continued Ameobi. "The Premier League is the biggest and best League in the world, so it's important that they have an input into the development of the game. It's a great achievement to have put those sums of money back into grassroots and it’s important that a lasting legacy is being created by the Premier League by re-investing in the community like this.
"The facilities have to be there for kids to be able to improve, and sports complexes like this one here in Walker can only be of benefit to the area and to producing talent in the area. It’s crucial first and foremost to ensure that the facilities are there and, secondly, to make sure that the kids are using them.
"Then, you never know. At the end of the day we want to see as many local kids coming through the doors at Newcastle United as possible, and hopefully, with the help of the Walker Activity Dome, that’ll be the case."
To find out about the Football Foundation, and their new magazine 'Onside' click here.