Tuesday 02 September 2014
Barclays Spaces for Sports is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year with more than £40 million having been invested over the period in community sport and facilities by the title sponsor of the Premier League.
The Spaces for Sports programme is a partnership between Barclays and the Football Foundation, and has allowed more than 53,000 people to use the 200 community sports sites created by the programme to inspire, build bridges across communities and deliver positive social change.
As part of the celebration of the decade of good work, Portsmouth legend Steve Claridge went to a Barclays Spaces for Sports facility at Bransbury Park Road, in the south-coast city, to attend a ceremony showcasing the positive impact the facility has had in the community.
"You only have to listen to Louis' amazing story to realise just how important sites like this are in providing opportunities for young people"
Before the £600,000 investment in the site, £300,000 each from Barclays and the Football Foundation, which is funded by the Premier League, the FA and the Government via Sport England, the outdoor areas of Bransbury Park were unusable.
The money has made the site a community hub of sporting activity with four full-size grass pitches, an artificial grass pitch and areas for basketball, netball, tennis, BMX and skateboarding.
Three additional grants totalling £81,348 were awarded by Barclays to ensure the sites remain sustainable over the long term.
As an example of the impact that the Barclays Spaces for Sports can have, Claridge and the other VIPs in attendance at Bransbury Park Road, heard from Louis Faith, who started using the facility seven years ago. After getting involved in anti-social behaviour, Faith, 20, feared for his general prospects but at Bransbury Park Road Portsmouth FC spotted his coaching abilities and he has now become a sports youth worker for Pompey in the Community, the football club's charitable arm.
Despite their descent from the Barclays Premier League to the fourth tier of the football pyramid, the Premier League has continued to help the club maintain its links to the local community through £400,000 of investment since 2010. This has helped Portsmouth in the Community to maintain the quality and capacities of its delivery – in 2013 it was named as Kicks Club of the Year – and ensure that the organisation has been a key component in the rebirth of a club still building their experience, knowledge and partnerships in the wake of going into administration.
"It was a very proud moment for me to help celebrate 10 years of Barclays Spaces for Sports in my hometown," Claridge said. "You only have to listen to Louis' amazing story to realise just how important sites like this are in providing opportunities for young people. Barclays and the Football Foundation deserve real credit for their investment over the last decade."
Former Aston Villa striker Darius Vassell was impressed by the work done in the community where he was raised as he also celebrated the anniversary at the state-of-the-art Barclays Spaces for Sports facility at Aston Sports Pitches.
Vassell was among the VIPs in attendance to hear 19 year-old Junior Stewart recall how he had used the Aston Sports Pitches to forge a career path in football and away from the wrong side of the tracks. Like Faith, Stewart had become involved in anti-social behaviour, but was given the opportunity to become a volunteer coach with the Aston Villa Kicks programme.
Prior to the £600,000 investment in the site which, as with the Bransbury Park Road site, was joint-funded by Barclays and the Football Foundation, the outdoor areas of Aston Sports Pitches were run down and in need of refurbishment. Now, though, Aston Sports Pitches is a community hub of sporting activity with three full-size grass pitches, an artificial grass pitch and a sports pavilion. One additional grant of £49,727 was awarded by Barclays to ensure the sites remain sustainable over the long term.
David Wheldon, Managing Director, Brand, Reputation, Citizenship and Marketing at Barclays, also attended and expressed his gratitude to the Football Foundation in delivering the investment the bank makes.
"Barclays Spaces for Sports is part of our broader goal to build 5 Million Young Futures and give the next generation the skills they need to achieve their ambitions and become financially independent," he said.