Ellesmere Port has gained two new state of the art football pitches thanks to a half million pound plus grant.
The town’s MP Justin Madders (Lab) officially unveiled the third generation (3G) artificial grass pitches for Vauxhall Motors Sports & Social Club.
He was joined by Tranmere Rovers FC chairman Mark Palios who said he was impressed with the club’s future aspirations thanks to the new facilities.
The overhaul of the club’s Rivacre Road site was made possible thanks to investment from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund which is run by the Football Foundation.
The grant enabled the club to install a new floodlit 3G pitch, refurbish an existing artificial pitch, which was originally funded by the Football Foundation in 2001 and to carry out improvement works to the changing rooms.
The investment means local side Vauxhall Motors FC, who currently play in the North West Counties Football League and were founded in 1963, can continue safely playing football on site, even during the winter months with the new all-weather pitches providing ‘a first class sports hub’ that can be used throughout the year.
The two new pitches will also benefit a number of clubs and schools in the community including Neston Nomads, Hope Farm JFC, Saughall Colts, Chester & Wirral Flexi league, Cammell Laird 1907 FC, Young Lions FC, Over 35 FC and Wirral Vets FC.
The clubs can now cater for higher demand from the community, thanks to the surfaces still being available in bad weather conditions which would make many grass pitches unplayable.
In addition to this Everton Free School and Sixth Form College is also going to use the site from September 2018 running BTEC qualifications.
Vauxhall Motors Sports and Social Club was awarded a £541,413 grant from the fund towards the project. The club worked alongside the Football Foundation and the Cheshire FA to compile a five-year football development plan setting out how sport will be played at the club with an emphasis on increasing participation.
It is expected that the number of people using Rivacre Road to play football will nearly triple with two available pitches, which will see a near 300% growth, supported by the club’s plans to introduce a total of 41 new teams. This will result in the cumulative number of teams increasing from 29 to 70, with a 167% boost for under-14 footballers predicted as a result.
One of the key objectives is said to be to increase female football participation with the club also targeting a near 300% increase which will be aided by the formation of four new female teams.
David Edmunds, general secretary at the club, said: “I would like to thank our local MP, Justin Madders and the chairman of Tranmere Rovers FC Mark Palios for taking the time out of their busy schedules to come along and perform the official opening of these magnificent new facilities.
“It could not have happened of course without the most generous grant aid provided by the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund which will provide a much needed state of the art football facility in the Ellesmere Port area which will enhance and greatly improve the availability of decent playing conditions to help the development of grassroots sport.”
Mr Madders, who plays in Parliamentary football squads, commented: “I am delighted to officially open the new all-weather pitches at Vauxhall Motors Sports & Social Club.
“Facilities like this are vital in any community and I am proud to see such investment from the Premier League, the FA and the Government, via Sport England, here in Cheshire.
“This club has been running for over 50 years and I’m extremely pleased to hear of the projected expansion and growth in number of teams playing here thanks to the new pitches. I would encourage as many people as possible to make the most of the new opportunities provided by this state-of-the-art facility.”
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 Vauxhall Motors FC has now opened their state-of-the-art all-weather pitches thanks to investment from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund.
“Continuing to improve access to high-quality facilities like this one is a key aim for the Premier League, The FA and the Government.
“Delivered by the Football Foundation their funding supports projects for clubs and organisations all over the country and is helping to boost the number of people benefiting from sport through better facilities.”
He concluded: “Grassroots football provides so many benefits for members of the community not least of which is the opportunity to enjoy themselves.
“Love for our national game, something that can be found across the country, is an integral part of what drives the foundation and its funding partners to keep increasing the standards and quality of our facilities.”
Since 2000 investment by the Football Foundation’s funding partners has provided 346 grants worth £12.3m towards grassroots sports projects in Cheshire worth over £23m.
The 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, aiming to improve the experience for regular players as well as attracting new players to the game.