A NEW £600,000 all-weather football pitch at Astley Sports Village, Dukinfield, was officially opened by Lord Pendry, president of the Football Foundation.
The third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch was made possible thanks to a £487,227 grant from the Premier League and The FA Facilities Fund which is delivered by the Football Foundation.
The grant enabled Aspireplus Educational Trust to install the new state-of-the-art pitch that will provide much-needed football specific facilities for wider community use.
In addition, the installation of new floodlights will create increased playing capacity and availability for neighbouring schools and partner football clubs.
The new facility is set to create a further 108 football teams. This is expected to result in an increase of nearly 2,000 people playing football at the site, which represents a 277% per-cent growth. In addition to this, 39 new female teams will be created across all age groups.
To secure the funding, Astley Sports Village had to have a link with a pro club and they have a partnership with Manchester City who brought the Premier League winners’ trophy and Carabao Cup to Dukinfield.
City in the Community provide free coaching in the summer holidays – there were 110 children attending on the day of the opening.
City also put on a free Friday evening session that is usually attended by 50 boys and girls.
“It is a great opportunity for children to play sport and keep active,” explained Mark Storie, Astley Sports Village’s facilities manager.
Jonathan Reynolds, MP for Stalybridge and Hyde, is a director of the AspirePlus Educational Trust.
He said: “We need as many pitches as possible in Tameside and in my constituency as they are tremendously well used.
“We want proper community facilities that provide maximum use for the area. There are a lot of public facilities where access is not sufficient.”
Lord Pendry remarked Stalybridge and Hyde is lucky to have a football-loving MP – he follows Sunderland.
He said: “It is great kids can enjoy themselves here and away from video games.
“I only live one mile away so I have taken great interest in this development.
“It is also great that girls and women’s football will be catered for as I have seen it develop from its infancy.”
Lord Pendry, former MP for Stalybridge and Hyde, pointed out since 2000 the Football Foundation has ploughed £638 million into grassroots sport, mainly football.
This has helped attract additional partnership funding of £841m, making a total of almost £1.5bn of investment into the grassroots game.
He added in Tameside £5.28m has been received from 52 grants covering 70 sites including Stalybridge Celtic, Copley Academy, Curzon Ashton and Hyde United.
“The importance is that the money goes into schemes that combat obesity and there is no better way for kids to exercise than this way,” declared Lord Pendry.