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Crystal Palace FC Chief Executive Phil Alexander and Defender Joel Ward Open £370,000 3g Pitch at Kent School

Thu 9th Oct 2014 | Football Stadiums & Facilities

Phil Alexander, Crystal Palace FC Chief Executive, and defender Joel Ward, officially opened a £370,000 refurbished third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch (AGP) at Darrick Wood School, Orpington, yesterday, and watched pupils test out the new surface under the guidance of Crystal Palace FC Foundation coaches. 

The facility was made possible thanks to a £190,824 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which provides grants towards developing new or refurbished grassroots football facilities. An additional £79,908 came from Sport England's Inspired Facilities Fund. To date the fund has helped more than 1,600 local sports projects across the country. The school also received a further £80,000 grant from the Mayor of London Sports Facilities Fund. 

The quality of the previous playing surface had declined rapidly in recent seasons meaning that participation had reduced, and the local community were in danger of losing access for good. Now though, thanks to the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, the school possess a state-of-the-art facility which will be used heavily by pupils, the local community, Crystal Palace FC Foundation and local grassroots club Orpington FC. 

Crystal Palace FC's Foundation is strongly linked with Darrick Wood. They provide two work experience placements at the club, as well as stadium tours, to the pupils they coach. Foundation staff hold seminars with students about career opportunities and pathways into football, and also offer two places on a FA Level 1 coaching course for students aged 16 and over. They also support the Premier League Enterprise Challenge and Football League Trust Girls' sessions held at the school. 

Football Mash Up sessions, a joint initiative between The FA and Vauxhall aimed at tackling the drop out from football of teenagers in the age group are run on the site, as are FA Mars Just Play! sessions which are designed to encourage people of all ages and abilities to play football socially. 

Partner club Orpington FC, who will use the pitch regularly, are set to increase their number of teams from 20 to 30 over the next five years as a direct result of the upgraded facilities. Emphasis will be placed on widening participation to include girls' youth teams, an adult disability team and additional senior teams. In total there is expected to be a 46% increase in the number of individuals using the site on a weekly basis for football. 

The club worked in partnership with the London FA to secure a £190,824 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund. Since 2000 the Football Foundation Funding Partners' investment has provided 143 grants worth £22.8m towards grassroots sports projects worth over £60.9m across the whole of London.

The Mayor's Sports Facilities Fund is part of the Mayor, Boris Johnson's, commitment to deliver a sporting legacy from the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The aim of the Fund, which is managed on the Mayor's behalf by the Football Foundation, is to increase participation levels in sport in London through the funding of affordable, good quality facilities within local communities in every London Borough. 

Funded by the Premier League, The FA, and the Government, via Sport England, the Premier League and The FA Facilities Fund is delivered by the Football Foundation, the country's largest sports charity. Since it was launched in 2000, the Foundation has awarded around 13,000 grants worth more than £500m towards improving grassroots sport, which it has used to attract additional partnership funding of over £700m – over £1.2bn of investment into the grassroots game. 

By providing more high-quality facilities, coupled with coaching at the appropriate age group, the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund aims to improve the experience for regular players as well as attracting new players to the game. The new pitch at Darrick Wood School is expected to see a 46% increase in the number of individuals using the site on a weekly basis for football. 

Many of the new state-of-the-art facilities will serve to strengthen the connection between professional football clubs and their local communities, particularly in the most deprived areas of the country, through the professional clubs' community trusts' outreach work. 

Phil Alexander, Crystal Palace FC Chief Executive, said: “The new 3G pitch at Darrick Wood School is a great project for Crystal Palace FC to be involved in. The upgrade to a 3G surface has a multitude of benefits for players and coaches alike, and is a facility the pupils will get many years of enjoyment out of. I am delighted, too, that the Crystal Palace FC Foundation will deliver school and community sessions on this pitch. The Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund should be praised for putting vital funds into a worthwhile project.”

Barbara Rhymaun, Head Teacher Darrick Wood School, said: “We would like to thank Phil Alexander and Joel Ward for officially opening our newly refurbished 3G pitch. Without funding from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund our dream could not have been realised, so we owe them and everyone who has worked hard to make this happen a huge debt of gratitude. This facility will be a wonderful asset for the School for many years to come, and with help from the Crystal Palace FC Foundation and Orpington FC we are now able to offer the local community the opportunity to take part in sport in a safe and friendly environment.” 

Richard Scudamore, Chief Executive of the Premier League, said: “This superb facility, which will benefit Darrick Wood School and the wider Orpington community, highlights the importance of investing in grassroots facilities. One of the Premier League's main aims, through the Premier League & FA Facilities Fund, is to build participation in football and raise the quality of the experience for youngsters in the game, which this facility will do. 

“The Crystal Palace FC Foundation deliver an impressive range of community outreach projects on the site. Premier League clubs play a vital role as hubs of their communities as they help to regenerate and bring people together, and Crystal Palace's partnership with Darrick Wood School is an outstanding example of this. 

“The commitment at the club is further underlined with Phil Alexander and Joel Ward giving up their time to open a facility which will no doubt inspire many young players of the future.” 

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “I am delighted that Darrick Wood School now has these incredible new facilities. We want to help clubs to improve their facilities, so even more Londoners get the chance to get active and participate in sport. This is exactly the sort of project that will help us achieve that goal.” 

Nick Bitel, Sport England Chair, said: “Inspired Facilities is one of our most popular funds, and together with the Premier League & the FA Facilities Fund, it is showing the importance of good, local sports facilities. Not only do they improve the sporting experience of existing users but they also help attract new ones. Through both funds, we look forward to supporting many more sports clubs who play such a vital role in grassroots sport.” 

Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, added: “The Football Foundation is responsible for managing and delivering the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which is funded by the Premier League, The FA and the Government, via Sport England. This refurbished 3G AGP is an example of the positive impact that this funding is having on our grassroots game. First-class facilities, like Darrick Wood's refurbished 3G AGP, are crucial to creating more opportunities for local people to enjoy regular sport. A special thanks must go to Joel Ward and Phil Alexander for taking the time out to open the facility. 

“Aided by the London FA, Darrick Wood School deserves huge credit for taking a vision and turning it into a reality, using funding provided by the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund. Sport has the power to make a positive impact on the health of communities and this wonderful new facility will improve the sporting experience of local people and encourage them to be more active.” 

Posted by: Kev Howland 


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