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The Football Foundation column: Sports Minister turns on the flair at pitch launch

Minister for Sport & the Olympics, Hugh Robertson MP, opened a new third generation (3G) pitch at The Abbey School in Faversham, Kent, on the day the Olympic torch passed through the town.

Hugh Robertson spoke to Football Foundation ambassador, Georgie Bingham, who will host coverage of the Paralympics on Channel 4 later this summer.

“The pitch itself looks fantastic! Projects like this are essential to create a sporting legacy for after the world leaves London,” said Robertson.

During the opening, some of the young teams who will be using the new pitch to train on week-in, week-out had a kick around with the Minister, who threw himself into the impromptu training session – and showed a decent touch!

There was no hiding the excitement at the event and in the town with only a week remaining until the Olympics kicked off.

Local people were able to see for themselves a brilliant example of the legacy the Olympic and Paralympic Games that the Football Foundation is helping to create, not just in London but across the country.

Mr Robertson added: “There is no better connection to the Olympic legacy than this 3G pitch opening on the day the torch passes through Faversham.”

In the wet and windy winter months, grass pitches struggle to provide four hours of usage per week. 3G pitches provide up to 90 hours of usage weekly, whatever the weather.

An enhanced quality pitch enables all its users to develop their skills, with 3G lending themselves especially to short passing and ‘pass and move’ drills.

The new 3G is already opening up opportunities for more local people to have access to regular football. The facility at The Abbey School is already fully booked for several months, every night of the week.

Premier League stars open new project in Bromsgrove

Premier League stars Craig and Gary Gardner recently attended the opening of a new community sporting project at Meadow Park Football Club in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire.

The pair, who play for Sunderland AFC and Aston Villa FC respectively, supported the project funded by the Football Foundation.

Craig Gardner said: “The facilities here at Meadow Park are a different class. You can come here, have a game and get dirty. It’s great for the community.”

Meadow Park FC worked in partnership with the Worcestershire FA to secure a £153,000 grant from the Football Foundation.

The new sports pavilion at Meadow Park FC will enable them to continue to provide a safe and healthy environment for the youngsters and adults of Bromsgrove to play regular football.

The brothers from the Midlands recognised the importance of the young aspiring footballers of the community having a safe place to go to play football.

Gary Gardner (pictured) said: “It’s massively important to have facilities like these. Youngsters need this sort of football.”

Craig joined the Aston Villa academy at the age of 14 despite having the opportunity to join them at a younger age. He said that he was enjoying his grassroots football too much to come away.

He recalls his time before joining the Villains fondly: “I really enjoyed my football at the grassroots. I was playing with my mates week-in, week-out and having a laugh.

“Football is all about enjoyment and I think the more you enjoy your football the further you will go.”

Hammers star goes back to his old club to kick off development

West Ham United midfielder Jack Collison went back to his childhood club to kick start work on their new ground.

The Welsh international began his footballing career at Shefford Saints Football Club which secured funding from the Football Foundation and the Football Stadia Improvement Fund.

Collison said: “Everyone starts off at a club like Shefford Saints. There are a lot of people behind the scenes that work very hard. They make it possible for players to have a great grounding which could lead to a career in the game.”

The Hammers star donned a high visibility jacket and hardhat before being the first person to use the digger on the £1.3m development. Collison believes that the project will not only benefit the youngsters of the area, but the community as a whole.

“It is brilliant that the Premier League, the FA and Government continue to invest in projects like this through the Football Foundation.”

By Harriet Drudge

The Football Foundation is the country’s largest sports charity, funded by the Premier League, The FA and Government (via Sport England).

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