Tuesday 09 October 2012
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Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson joined Premier League Chief Executive and Football Foundation Trustee Richard Scudamore to launch a major new programme that will invest in the development of new or enhanced local sports facilities across England and Wales.
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.
The Fund is open to all football club community-led organisations from the Premier League, Football League, Football Conference, and the Conference’s North and South divisions.
"The Premier League Community Facility Fund is all about providing sports facilities that reinvigorate local communities"
The new PLCFF-enhanced sites will also help to strengthen links between professional football clubs and their communities, and will become venues for the clubs’ outreach work.
Sir Alex and Mr Scudamore officially unveiled Stretford High School's new, full-size floodlit third-generation artificial grass pitch built with the help of a £350,000 grant from the PLCFF.
The school has had historically poor sports facilities but the new pitch is a key part of the new Stretford Sports Village, a state-of-the-art multi-sport complex that has been developed less than a mile from Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium and Lancashire County Cricket Club.
The Manchester United Foundation is a key partner of the project. As part of the application to the PLCFF it worked with the Trafford Leisure Trust to produce a Football Development Plan that details how the facilities will be used. The plan meets each of the Premier League's four 'corporate social reponsibility strands', namely, community cohesion, education, health and sports participation.
MU Foundation will have 10 hours' free use of the facility each week and will see Kickz community project sessions being delivered at the site each week by the end of the first year.
These initiatives will be delivered by a MU Foundation Hub Officer, who is based permanently in the school for the next three years. His job is to work with feeder primary schools, teachers, parents, local community groups and partnership organisations to develop a provision that is appropriate for North Trafford.
The site will also be a venue for the Manchester FA Coach Education programme, 9 v 9 football, initiatives aimed at reducing anti-social behaviour, community usage by a number of junior, women’s and disabled football clubs, as well as a Manchester United fan-zone experience for the local community to enjoy on match days.
Although based at Stretford High School, over half the usage (55%) will be for the local community. It is estimated that 1,100 boys and girls from the school will use the pitch each week, with a further 1,900 weekly users from the local community also benefiting.
Scudamore said: "The Premier League has been banging the drum for sports participation for many years now and it is heartening to see that this issue is moving higher up the political agenda. The Premier League Community Facility Fund is all about providing sports facilities that reinvigorate local communities. So this £18m of funding, which is available to 160 clubs across seven divisions of English football, is investment that will have a lasting impact.
"The community of North Trafford is the first to benefit from the PLCFF. They have never had far to look for inspiration and this new facility will add to that legacy by significantly increasing sports participation to the 3,000 young people who will use.
"I would wish to thank the Premier League for its support to grassroots football over the last 12 years"
Football Foundation's Paul Thorogood
"Stretford High School will also be Manchester United Foundation’s eighth base for their magnificent Hub of the Community work, so once again one of our clubs is placing itself at the heart of their local community and using football to make a positive social difference."
Sir Alex, who opened Stretford High School in 1992, added: "On the back of the Olympics, everyone is talking about how sport can improve fitness and keep people active.
"The great thing about the Premier League is that they’ve been doing this kind of work for a long time now. They don't get the publicity they deserve and without their funding initiatives like this it wouldn't happen.
"The Stretford Sports Village is a fantastic facility for young people. Whether the young people who use it ever become a champion or not, play for Manchester United or not, that is not the issue - the thing is they’ll be enjoying playing sport and they should take great inspiration from it."
Football Foundation Chief Executive Paul Thorogood said: "The opening of Stretford Sports Village’s stunning new 3G pitch is great news not only for this part of Manchester but also for towns and cities across the country as it signals the official launch of the Premier League Community Facility Fund.
"The Football Foundation is very proud to be delivering the PLCFF programme in partnership with the Premier League, which will see £18m invested into developing new grassroots sports facilities and strengthening link between professional football clubs and their local communities.
"I would wish to take this opportunity thank the Premier League for its support to grassroots football over the last 12 years, during which time it has directly invested nearly £200m into the Football Foundation to support projects like this all over the country."
UK readers can see a video of the event here
Read the full Premier League Creating Chances report