State-of-the-art pitch can boost grassroots goals

ECFC Official Opening
ECFC Official Opening

Eastwood Community FC’s £500k state-of-the-art pitch will help them achieve ‘ambitious’ grassroots football development plans.

Club chairman Jamie Bennett is confident the new surface, opened on Monday thanks to a £400k grant from the Premier League and FA Facilities Fund, will boost their bid to increase sporting participation in the area.

Speaking after the official opening of the new 3G pitch at Chewton Street, Bennett explained the benefits for their Football Development Plan, a long term attempt to double the number of academy players and raise on site participation by 223 per cent.

He said: “The new 3G pitch will allow us to continue supporting grassroots football within the local community, providing outstanding facilities that can be played all year round.

“Over the last two seasons, we have had to cancel fixtures and turn players and teams away as we could not support the additional use on the old grass pitch.

“We have an ambitious Football Development Plan over the next five years to engage with our local and wider communities and to encourage and engage with grassroots football for people of all ages and abilities.

“It will be challenging, but we feel that we can now achieve our grassroots sport goals.”

The pitch was opened by Coun Richard Jackson, leader of Broxtowe Borough Council and Brian Hambridge, chair of Notts FA.

A brand new floodlit third generation artificial grass pitch will benefit the club’s nine affiliated teams, its Mini-Soccer School and the recently founded academy system, which will support those undertaking higher education opportunities alongside their playing commitments.

Paul Thorogood, chief executive of the Football Foundation, said: “I am delighted that a grant from the Premier League and The FA Facilities Fund has enabled Eastwood Community FC to build a new 3G artificial grass pitch.

“This development will provide a real boost to sport in the local area.

“Since 2000, the Football Foundation has supported grassroots projects worth more than £1.3bn, investing into areas where the need is greatest and where it will have the biggest impact in terms of getting more people playing football and a wide range of other sports.

“With this funding, provided by the Premier League, The FA and the Government, through Sport England, we are helping to improve community sports facilities across the country and thereby the playing experience of those who take part.”

Eastwood’s first team were in action on Monday, on the new pitch, when a Notts County side visited the Play Soccer USA 3G Arena.