Football Foundation Ambassador and talkSPORT presenter Georgie Bingham was on hand to officially open a new artificial grass pitch at Samuel Ryder Academy last week
The 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 Samuel Ryder Academy to install a full-size floodlit all-weather pitch, replacing part of the existing grass playing field. As an all-through school, the pitch will benefit children aged from 4 to 18 for curricular and extra-curricular activities.
In addition, St Albans City Youth FC will use the site as a training facility. The club currently operates 86 teams, and the pitch will support its development to retain players and grow to 94 teams overall, with 40 of those based at Samuel Ryder Academy.
The new all-weather pitch includes markings for 5v5, 7v7, 9v9 and 11v11 football, making it a very versatile addition to the sporting facilities at the Academy.
Watford FC Community Sports & Education Trust will use the site to deliver various community schemes as part of a Pro Club link with Samuel Ryder Academy. The club plan to deliver a weekly player development centre as well as week long holiday courses during school breaks.
Strong links between Hertfordshire County FA and Samuel Ryder Academy will see a range of accredited coaching awards delivered on the all-weather pitch, helping to prepare the next generation of coaches and officials.
Samuel Ryder Academy were awarded a £457,886 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund towards the project. The school worked alongside the Football Foundation and Hertfordshire County 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.
Hertfordshire FA Joint Acting CEO and County Development Manager Karl Lingham said:
"Hertfordshire FA is proud to see the opening of another first class football facility in our county. This development will help to further increase in the number of local children who are able to play on a regular basis, come rain or shine."
"We work with schools, clubs and other partners to help secure the necessary funding for a project like this. Having been involved from the initial stages it is hugely satisfying to see the end result. We can now look forward to this site delivering significant benefits to the local community for many years to come."
More than 850 people are expected to start playing football on the pitch over the next five years, which represents a growth of 224%. Of this, significant growth in the number of female players using the facility is also predicted. The formation of 16 girls’ teams will help to contribute to more than 250 new female footballers using the site.
Since 2000, the Football Foundation Funding Partners’ investment has provided 214 grants worth £10.8m towards grassroots sports projects worth over £19.5m across the whole of Hertfordshire.
Georgie Bingham, talkSPORT presenter and Football Foundation Ambassador, said:
"It is great to see girls and boys playing football together and enjoying themselves. Sport is a really important part of their growth and with enhanced facilities, there is so much that can be achieved. I would love to think that someone who learns and develops their skills on a Football Foundation funded pitch would one day go on to play for England."
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