Thursday 24 October 2013
This week saw the launch of the brand new Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which is funded by the Premier League, The FA and the Government via Sport England and will invest £102m over three years into building and refurbishing local football facilities.
An example of how such facilities can benefit local communities was highlighted at the official launch of the Fund, which was held at the London Nautical School in Southwark.
The school has directly benefitted from the construction of two 3G artificial grass pitches, which were refurbished this year with the help of a £77,920 grant from the Football Foundation, and now more than 250 school children use the pitches every week while the facility is also available to community groups for free.
Here, Jim Goldsmith, Head of PE at the London Nautical School, tells premierleague.com how the pitches have made an impact on his pupils.
"This facility offers the chance for the boys to have a good experience of PE. The guidelines that we get are that our PE curriculum has to be broad with multiple activities that the boys take part in, and without that facility outside we would be in a bad way.
"I don't know how we would get on if we didn't have these facilities"
"We only have a sports hall and a gymnasium. We have to book the courts just so that we can get classes out and offer the broadness of the curriculum that we do. Without that we could be left in situations where we have two classes in one sports hall doing two different things and you can’t teach in that. It’s not practical.
"We don't just offer curriculum lessons out there, we offer extra-curriculum clubs too, so after school there are boys out there playing till 5pm and then community groups come in to use the facility after that.
"For example, on one of the nights this week we had around 60 Year 7s come to training after school and that’s not taking into account the lessons from period one to period six every day. Every boy here has been out on the courts at one point.
"We just wouldn’t be able to function effectively as a PE department without this facility and that would have an impact on our GCSE results. At the moment our results are the highest in the school and it’s because we're a strong department and we can offer that variety of sports. I don’t know how we would get on if we didn't have these facilities. We are very fortunate to have them and for us, it has made a huge impact.
"At an inner London boys’ secondary school such as this, sport is high on the agenda of the youngsters. And as much as you get boys who want to play football, they have a magnificent opportunity here to take part in and enjoy as many sports as possible as well as continuing that afterwards.
"For me as a head of department, if one of my boys can leave this school and go to any country in the world and take up a sport there, I've done my job. If they go on to a beach in Brazil and play volleyball that’s brilliant, if they go over to eastern Europe and go and play handball that’s superb because they learned that here.
"When I went on a school trip to Barcelona, volleyball was a surprise. To see people out on Barcelona beach playing it I said: "What is this sport?" I had never played it before. I wouldn’t want that for the boys coming through this school. I want them to have as much variety as possible and these facilities really help."