A new facility was opened last week that will boost sports participation in Reading thanks to funding from the Premier League.
Sir John Madejski OBE, the co-chairman of Reading FC, joined the Championship club's former striker Noel Hunt, Reading FC Women's manager, Kelly Chambers, and left-back, Harriet Scott, at the opening of AcademySport Leisure Centre's new 3G pitch, which was built with the help of a £384,218 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund.
"This area is an area of deprivation within Reading District Council so it's really important that the young people within this area have a facility like this to play on," said Dave Evans, head of Reading FC Community Trust. "It allows young people to play."
The pitch will be used by the Trust to deliver initiatives such as Premier League Kicks and programmes focused on special educational needs and disability.
Players from Reading’s Womens' Regional Talent Camp will also be able to train on the site all year round.
Twenty-two community teams are expected to be established because of the venue, raising Under-14 participation by 127%.
"These facilities at the lower levels of the football pyramid are vital in supporting the professional game," said Madejski. "They not only give youngsters the chance to play football, they can also help bring through the next crop of local football stars.
"I’d like to thank all those involved that have made this project such a success, and importantly, the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund for their vital financial support.”