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New FA Chairman Opens New School Sports Site

Tue 15th Mar 2011 | Football Stadiums & Facilities

The FA's new Chairman, David Bernstein, today officially opened a new Football Foundation funded third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch at the ARK Academy, Wembley..

To help mark the occasion, boys and girls from the ARK Academy took part in a training session lead by QPR's community coaches. Demonstrating his own football skills, David Bernstein also impressed the coaches with a neat dribble around some training cones.

The pitch, which was made possible thanks to a Football Foundation grant of £229,136, will assist with the delivery of ARK Academy's commitment to provide an extensive range of curriculum sports, help cater for after school programmes and facilitate a comprehensive community use timetable. Funded by the Premier League, The FA, and the Government (via Sport England), the Football Foundation is the nation's largest sports charity. Launched in July 2000, the Foundation has so far supported around 8,000 community sports projects worth £945m.

Within curriculum time the facility will eventually be used by 1,600 school users, principally for football but also other PE activities. Eventually it will host inter and intra school tournaments and become a host venue for feeder primary schools to deliver small sided football training and matches.

The new pitch means that the school will be able to introduce eight new school teams by 2012 and deliver a number of school coaching courses. In addition, the new pitch will provide AFC Wembley with a suitable training facility and will help the club increase the number of teams it currently provides for. Moreover, the site will become home to a number of other local football teams with the majority having been consulted throughout the application process and already factored into the programme of use.

Just metres from Wembley Stadium, the state-of-the-art ARK Academy opened in September 2010 admitting 180 Year 7 pupils with half of the places given to children from the Stonebridge and Harlesden areas and half from Wembley. The academy, which has specialist status in mathematics and citizenship, is mixed, non-denominational and when fully open will take pupils from age 3 to 18.

David Bernstein, Chairman of The FA, said: "The ARK Academy is a truly wonderful complex. I know that these facilities will provide a first class environment for local children and young adults to fulfil their potential. By delivering facilities like these the Football Foundation is helping to support The FA's National Game Strategy which aims to grow and retain participation, raise standards and address abusive behaviour, develop better players and to run the game effectively.

"The ARK Academy, on the doorstep of Wembley Stadium is a beacon of what our National Game Strategy, with the Football Foundation's help, is working hard to achieve."

Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said: "On behalf of everyone at the Football Foundation, I would like to commend the ARK Academy, Brent Council and the Middlesex County FA for all the hard work that was invested into securing the grant to build this facility."

"The ARK Academy is a prime example of how the Football Foundation is working alongside The FA to deliver state-of-the-art facilities for local people. Furthermore I would like to extend my most sincere thanks to David Bernstein for taking time out to open this fantastic new project."

"Since 2000, we have made a huge impact on community sports facility provision right across the country. This would not have been possible without the significant investment made by our funding partners, the Premier League, The FA and the Government. In London alone we have supported 517 projects worth £90.3m."

Delia Smith, Principal of ARK Academy, said: "Today is a fabulous day to recognise this wonderful facility at the heart of Ark Academy with the inspirational arc of Wembley in the background.

"We would like to place on record our thanks to the Football Foundation and their funders The FA, Premier League and Government, for supporting this project. The students are thrilled with the pitch and along with the local community will benefit enormously from its presence."

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