Former England manager Graham Taylor OBE officially opened Belper Leisure Centre’s new floodlit third generagion artificial grass pitch.
Taylor was on hand to cut the ceremonial ribbon on a project that was made possible thanks to a £207,221 grant from the Premier League and FA Facilities Fund – delivered by the Football Foundation.
The cash has enabled an old Redgra pitch to be converted into a state-of-the-art 3G facility.
The pitch will be extensively used all-year round by grassroots clubs, community groups, Derby County Football in the Community (FITC) and pupils from Belper School.
And a five-year Football Development Plan (FDP) will create an additional six teams at Belper Sports FC over the next five years, mainly by increasing Mini-Soccer provision to ensure a sustainable future for the junior section.
Taylor was joined at the opening ceremony by Pauline Latham OBE, MP for Mid-Derbyshire, Dawn Heron, chief executive of the Derbyshire FA and David Heron, chairman of the Derbyshire FA.
The former Aston Villa manager said: “I’ve seen it today full with kids enjoying playing football and it highlights just how great an impact this facility will have on grassroots sport in the local area.
““During my managerial career I managed some of the best young players in the country and they all started out at the grassroots. If we are going to produce better players for the professional game we need better grassroots facilities; we are making huge strides in this area thanks to the Football Foundation.
“It’s important to remember where the money that the Football Foundation expertly invests into essential sports facilities has come from; the very top of the game. The Premier League, The FA and the Government through Sport England are the ones who have written the cheque and their funding is making a huge impact by enabling the Foundation to deliver the very latest community facilities across the country, especially in some of the most deprived areas of the country.”
Belper Leisure Centre also received £50,000 from Sport England’s Inspired Facilities fund towards the cost of the new pitch.
To date the fund has helped nearly 1,900 local sports projects across the country.
The MP for Mid-Derbyshire added: “It was a privilege to attend the official opening of the new 3G pitch at Belper Leisure Centre. This stunning, all-weather facility will be of tremendous benefit to the local community for many years and I’d like to thank the Premier League and The FA Facilities Fund for its significant investment into Mid-Derbyshire.”
And Neil Malenoir, manager of Belper Leisure Centre, believes the impact on local will be significant: “The facility has been met with great enthusiasm by the local community, schools, clubs and leagues and there is little doubt that it will have a tremendous impact on the grassroots of the game within Derbyshire.”