PARLIAMENTARY Under-Secretary for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, Tracey Crouch MP, was joined by numerous other dignitaries to officially unveil Redditch United’s £900,000 grassroots football hub today (Thursday).
The Reds played their first match at their redeveloped home in September, but the 3G pitch was officially opened this week with town MP Karen Lumley, Mayor Cllr Joe Baker and club chairman Chris Swan among those in attendance.
The state-of-the-art, floodlit all-weather pitch and revamped changing rooms are projected to create 17 new local teams and will also enable Redditch United to bring all of their 38 teams ‘home’ to one venue.
The project was made partly possible thanks to a £561,650 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund (PL/FA:FF), which is delivered by the Football Foundation.
The Premier League, through the Football Stadia Improvement Fund (FSIF) – the Football Foundation’s sister organisation – also invested £88,166 into the project.
In addition to the Redditch teams, which include the Southern League Premier Division club’s academy run in conjunction with Bournville College, the all-weather pitch is also home to Birmingham City Ladies FC, who run their Regional Talent Club from the site.
Additionally, the Albion Foundation, the charitable arm of Premier League side West Bromwich Albion, use the pitch to deliver programmes for their Player Development Centre, which works with youngsters aged six to 11.
The Albion Foundation will also hold coaching camps during school holidays at the facility, aimed at participants of all abilities ranging from four to 14 in age.
During the project’s planning, Redditch United worked alongside the Birmingham FA and Football Foundation to compile a five-year Football Development Plan (FDP). This is a long-term vision for how sport will be played on-site, with forecasts predicting eight new girls’ teams and a small-sided adults’ football league will be formed thanks to the new facilities.
The FSIF has awarded the Reds grants totalling £265,936 over the past 15 years to help fund a number of infrastructure developments at the Trico Stadium. These include improvements to their pitch drainage, perimeter fencing and terraced stands.
Tracey Crouch MP, Minister for Sport, said: “Good facilities, like this one in Redditch, help encourage people to play sport and gain from the physical, social and mental benefits participation brings.
“This facility shows what can be achieved when the Government, Premier League and The FA work together in partnership.
“Our joint investment into pitches and changing facilities will not just help increase the numbers of people playing the game but also the amount of youngsters gaining coaching and refereeing qualifications.”
Redditch MP Karen Lumley said: “This all-weather pitch is proving to be a tremendous asset to the local community and it’s great to see youngsters already making the most of the new facilities.
“It’s vital people right across the country are given the opportunity to play sport and stay healthy in safe and accessible environments and this new football hub will provide exactly that.
“I’d like to thank the club for all their hard work in getting this facility here today, and so too the support and investment of the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which has enabled this fantastic project to take place.”
Reds chairman Chris Swan added: “We are exceedingly grateful to the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund for their substantial contribution to our project and the help they have given us along the way.
“This investment in grassroots football helps us to reach out to the Redditch community – not only through our many junior and disabled sides that see nearly 1,000 youngsters turning out for the club each week, but also through our popular soccer coaching camps during the holidays.
“I would also like to say a massive thank you to the Sports Minister Tracey Crouch for making the day such a success and also to our own MP Karen Lumley who is a long-time supporter of the football club and what we are looking to achieve.”