South Kesteven District Council opened the new third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch (AGP) at Grantham Meres Leisure Centre to the public yesterday.
The facility has been made possible thanks to a £249,000 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which provides grants towards the development of new or refurbished grassroots football facilities.
The grant enabled the council to install a new 106m x 70m floodlit 3G AGP, which replaced an old sand-dressed pitch that had become worn and unfit for use. The new surface is a much-needed facility, with the closest other 3G over 15 miles away.
The council worked in partnership with the Lincolnshire County FA and the Football Foundation to create a five-year Football Development Plan, which is a vision for how football will be played on site.
Thanks to that plan, several local grassroots club are now using the pitch, including Grantham Town FC, Barrowby FC, Gonerby FC and Grantham College. The plan predicts an increase in the total number of teams by 23, and also focuses on female participation – at present there is only one female team between all partner clubs. The plan would see this increase by six.
Nottingham Forest FC will also use Grantham Meres as one of their Footballer Development Centres (FDC). To date, the Forest Academy has over 150 players registered at Grantham Meres and runs sessions from Under-6 through to Under-14, as well as goalkeeping sessions.
The Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund is funded by the Premier League, The FA, and the Government, via Sport England. It is delivered by the Football Foundation, the country’s largest sports charity.
Paul Stokes, venues and facilities manager at South Kesteven District Council, said: “The facility was opened by our chief executive Beverly Agass, and we’re very pleased with the end product. Our thanks go to the Premier League and The FA Facilities Fund, it means thousands of people can now benefit from a high class outdoor surface that will boost grassroots sport in South Kesteven.”
Paul Thorogood, chief executive of the Football Foundation, said: “I am delighted that a grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund has enabled South Kesteven District Council to install the new 3G AGP at Grantham Meres Leisure Centre. 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. This latest project in Grantham is the latest addition to the inventory of modern community sports sites we are developing that cater for the needs of local people who want to play sport purely for the love of it and to stay healthy.”