Coming from Liverpool, football is in my blood. So when I was invited to open Chichester City Football Club’s new 3G pitch alongside my friend and colleague, Stuart Andrew, the Minister for Sport, I knew it was an opportunity not to be missed.
The new state-of-the-art pitch is one of over a thousand grassroots projects across the country to receive funding from the Football Foundation and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. This forms part of the Government’s wider ambition for us all to become more active, with over £300 million pledged as part of their multi-sport facilities programme.
This plan has been long in the making. I have been working with the District Council on funding approaches for the pitch since before the pandemic and I was so pleased to see all our efforts come to fruition.
The new pitch will not only be used by Chichester City Football Club, but teams from Chichester University, Chichester City Youth Football Club, and Albion in the Community. Charities will also be guaranteed access, with Stone Pillow, Solent Sport and Think 18 among the many wonderful third sector partners who will now be able to play on the pitch.
In total, this amounts to over 120 individuals who will play football at least once a month for the majority of the year. The pitch will also help in supporting the integration of refugees and asylum seekers within our community through United Nations FC – a team set up by Sanctuary for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.