Monday 23 July 2012
A brand new sporting facility funded by the Football Foundation has been officially opened by the Minister for Sport and Olympics, Hugh Robertson MP.
The state-of-the-art third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch at The Abbey School in Faversham, Kent, is set to create a lasting sporting legacy for both pupils and the local community – just a week before the country hosts the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
With £12m of funding, the Football Foundation is the largest single charitable donation that the Premier League makes each year.
Over the last decade the Premier League has invested £169m in the Football Foundation, which is also funded by The Football Association and the Government (via Sport England).
"The Football Foundation is incredibly important"
- Hugh Robertson MP
The Football Foundation is the nation’s largest sports charity and since it was launched in 2000, it has awarded around 8,000 grants worth more than £420m towards improving grassroots sport, which it has used to attract additional partnership funding of over £520m.
The new project in Kent will enable the school to develop its football activities, ensuring that it has a comprehensive programme for all year groups.
"The pitch itself looks fantastic," said Hugh Robertson. "I didn’t really believe back in January or February when we were talking about this that we’d actually get it done in this sort of time period.
"You've got to make the link between communities up and down the country. That's where facilities such as this come in, that’s where the work of the Football Foundation, Sport England and others involved, is so important.
"Without the facilities next door which will enable young people growing up to play football in a way they simply weren’t able to before.
"With the country gearing up to host the Olympic Games later this month, projects like this are essential to create a sporting legacy for after the world leaves London.
"The Football Foundation is incredibly important. It creates a unique funding formula between the Government, the Premier League, The FA and Sport England.
"I have always been a great supporter of the Football Foundation and when the government was making cuts we ensured Football Foundation funding was preserved because of its efficiency, consistency in delivering facilities and judgement on where facilities are needed most.
"The judgement of the Foundation was so good, they put a facility here that we are opening this afternoon and it is already fully booked."
The facility will also allow three FA Charter Standard partner clubs to grow and sustain their participation levels, providing them with a quality facility to assist with their training and match programmes.
Forecasts suggest that the pitch will be used by over 2,200 people on a weekly basis.
The club worked in partnership with the Kent FA to secure a £390,000 grant from the Football Foundation.
"This year is an exciting time for sport in this country and a tremendous opportunity to create a grassroots legacy"
- Simon Finlan
Simon Finlan, Director of Sport at The Abbey School, added: "Without the support of the Kent FA and the Football Foundation this project would never have materialised. In these times of austerity we needed all of the help we could get to raise the funds required for a facility of this scale.
"Thanks to their support and guidance along with the backing of our MP, Hugh Robertson, the town of Faversham will now get a Floodlit 3G All-Weather Pitch, that will help develop football both within the school and in the community as a whole."
Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, added: "This year is an exciting time for sport in this country and a tremendous opportunity to create a grassroots legacy.
"The hosting of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games will inspire generations of people up and down the country to reap the rewards that sport has to offer.
"The Football Foundation is dedicated, with funding provided from the Premier League, The FA and government, to raising the standard of grassroots community sports facilities and to getting more people actively playing the national sport."