3G pitch opens at Plympton Academy

A state-of-the-art third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch (AGP) was officially opened by Plympton Academy recently. Their new facility was made possible thanks to investment from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which is delivered by the Football Foundation.

The grant enabled Plympton Academy to install a new 3G AGP, replacing a natural grass pitch that offered limited playing capacity. In addition, the Academy’s existing sports facilities have been reconfigured so that the site now boasts one full-size and one junior grass football pitch, alongside the new all-weather playing surface.

The new pitch has increased the capacity and flexibility of the Academy’s facilities thanks to it being usable under floodlights during the evening, as well as in harsh weather conditions that can render grass pitches unplayable. This will not only benefit the school’s pupils, but also players from partner clubs AFC Plympton and Chaddlewood Miners FC.

Teresa Lakeman, Business Director, Plympton Academy, said: “We would like to thank Plymouth City and local ward Councillor Patrick Nicholson, Deputy Council Leader and local Councillor David James for joining us today to officially open our fabulous new facility but also our partner Clubs for joining us today to celebrate the opening though showcasing the use they are making already of the pitch. Our students and the local community will enjoy many years of use thanks to the generous support of the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund. This new facility represents a considerable improvement in grassroots sport for Plympton and the academy will continue to work with the local community to maximise access to our facilities.”

Plymouth Argyle FC Community Trust will also use the site to deliver community outreach programmes in the form of weekly training sessions for their youth sides and school holiday football camps for local children. The club had previously struggled to deliver such sessions due to the lack of appropriate local facilities but now uses two Foundation funded sites in the area.

Plympton Academy was awarded a £397,013 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund towards the project. The Academy and its partner clubs worked alongside the Football Foundation and the Devon FA to compile a five-year Football Development Plan, which is a vision of how sport will be played on site with an emphasis on increasing participation.

The new pitch is set to enable the two partner clubs to increase their collective number of teams from 31 to 43. This will support a predicted increase of nearly 200 players between the two clubs, and is expected to result in a 138% increase in football participation in the over-26 age bracket. This is thanks to the formation of new open-age and veterans leagues.

Moreover, the number of female players using the site is expected to double, with five new women and girls’ teams creating a 96% increase in participation within that demographic. Overall, football participation at the site is predicted to increase by 73%.

Founded in 2000, the Football Foundation is the largest sports charity in the UK funded by the Premier League, The FA and Government, via Sport England. It develops new and refurbished grassroots sports facilities in order to improve the quality and experience of playing sport at the grassroots level. Since it was launched in 2000, the Foundation has awarded over 17,000 grants worth more than £615m towards improving grassroots sport, which it has used to attract additional partnership funding of £817m – £1.4bn of investment into the grassroots game.

Since 2000, the Football Foundation Funding Partners’ investment has provided 222 grants worth £10.3m towards grassroots sports projects worth over £19.6m across the whole of Devon.

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. 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.

Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said: “Grassroots sport plays an important role in communities across the UK, creating opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds. That is why I am delighted that Plympton Academy has now opened their state-of-the-art all-weather pitch in Plymouth, thanks to investment from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund.