Celebrating the transformation of The County Ground
New artificial grass pitch and Community Football Centre was officially opened by FA Chairman Greg Clarke today
Our new all weather artificial grass pitch and Community Football Centre was officially opened by FA Chairman, Greg Clarke today
The new facility was made possible thanks to investment from the Premier League, The FA and Government’s Football Foundation. The grant enabled us to transform our County Ground headquarters into a modern facility that can be much more widely used, becoming a real community hub for football in the area.
The new facility comprises a state of the art artificial grass pitch, along with extensive renovations to the existing clubhouse, adding two new changing rooms and a large function room suitable for hosting events and training courses.
This has replaced a grass pitch that was prone to waterlogging and rarely used outside of hosting County Cup finals at the end of each season. Last year many of these finals had to be postponed due to bad weather, while other uses had to be restricted so as to protect the grass for use at these showpiece events.
The new artificial pitch now allows the facility to be used week in week out, including regular training for youth players, education courses, competitive matches and community sessions, without any concern of the surface being damaged.
As part of the project the existing clubhouse on the site has been transformed, replacing the dark and dated space with an open modern venue with café and large function room that is much more welcoming to users. The addition of two extra changing rooms are also designed to support usage of the public grass pitches situated opposite the site.
The new Community Football Centre and pitch will be used by Hertfordshire FA for coach, referee, first aid and safeguarding courses, as well as by a number of local clubs for training and matches. A partnership with local youth club Letchworth Garden City Eagles for example, will see the facility host weekly training for over 30 teams.
The Stevenage FC Foundation, the community charity of the nearby League 2 club will also deliver a range of sessions at the site, from school holiday soccer camps for young players to adult ‘get back into’ sessions and walking football aimed at over 50s. Stevenage Ladies FC will also be using the venue for training and matches.
Hertfordshire FA were awarded a £794,516 grant from the Football Foundation towards the project, working alongside the Football Foundation 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.
Delivering benefits to the community
Karl Lingham, CEO and County Development Manager at Hertfordshire FA said “One of our goals at Hertfordshire FA is to increase the quality and quantity of football facilities, providing more opportunities for all to play the game. We work hard with our partners to see these developed across the county and are extremely proud to open our new facility here at The County Ground that will transform how this site is used”.
This is the fourth new all weather pitch to open in Hertfordshire since the start of this season. These facilities will help to significantly increase the number of people who are able to play the game on a regular basis, delivering valuable benefits to the local community in terms of health and wellbeing for many years to come.”
Brian Curtis, Chairman of Hertfordshire FA, added “We would like to thank the Chairman of The FA, Greg Clarke, for officially opening this fantastic new facility. In the past our pitch was could not be used as often as we would have liked, but we can now look forward to an exciting new future for The County Ground where activities take place here every day of the week. This is now a real hub for football and we are grateful to the Football Foundation for their significant investment and support”.
Greg Clarke, Chairman of The FA, said “I am delighted to be here open Hertfordshire FA’s new all weather pitch and Community Football Centre. It’s a real pleasure to see everyone out on the pitch enjoying the opportunity to take part in the game. A diverse group of players, from age seven up to seventy all with big smiles on thier faces, showing just why football hubs like this are so important. We would like to see every County FA have facility like this, that puts them right at the heart of the game in their community”.
Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said “The support of the Premier League, The FA and government enables the Football Foundation to help improve community sports facilities like this across the country. Their funding has played a key role in delivering this new all weather pitch and Community Football Centre and I am delighted for everyone associated with Hertfordshire FA.
“Taking part in community sport at any level offers many benefits and rewards, not least the opportunity for people to enjoy themselves and socialise with different members of the community”.
Want to develop your own facilities?
If you are intending to improve your football facilities and would like help and advice about the process of applying for funding, follow the link below.