Footballers in Wellingborough will no longer have to travel miles out of town to access all-weather sporting facilities thanks to the opening of the first full-sized floodlit third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch (AGP) in the borough at Redwell Leisure Centre recently (Friday 13 September).
The new pitch was made possible thanks to investment from the Premier League, The FA and Government's Football Foundation, as well as contributions from Sport England and the Borough Council of Wellingborough.
After netting a £438,575 grant from the Football Foundation, work begun on the site in July 2019. The new 3G pitch has been built on fields located behind Redwell Leisure Centre which is already a well-established community facility consisting of a sports hall, health and fitness suite, gym, studio, squash courts and natural grass pitches.
With no other full or half sized all-weather pitches within Wellingborough, where there are over 130 affiliated football teams, Northamptonshire County FA identified the site as a priority area to provide accessible football facilities. By placing the pitch within a sports centre environment there will also be full time staff on site to manage and develop the project further through the Local Authority’s Development Service.
The addition of the all-weather pitch is vital in maintaining participation during the traditional wet winter months in the local area. Many children and adults find themselves without competitive football for several weeks during the period from November to February. The new pitch will ensure games take place regularly and help prevent the drop out of players that is triggered during these periods.
It is anticipated that the new pitch will support nearly 1,300 people playing affiliated football over the next five years. With a focus on increasing women and girls’ participation, the aim is to also attract nearly 200 females playing at the site, which represents 13.8% of total users on the pitch.
Cllr Martin Griffiths, Leader of the Borough Council of Wellingborough, said: “I am delighted that the borough’s first all-weather outdoor pitch is now open for local sports clubs and residents of all ages and abilities to enjoy. It was fantastic to see a number of different sports clubs, and our fellow partners join us for the official opening event.”
Quintin Allen, Sports Project Manager at Northamptonshire Sport, said: “This facility is crucial to enhancing the sporting offer for residents of the Borough and I would like to thank all the organisations involved in enabling the concept to be realised, specifically the funding from the Premier League, The FA and Government funding through the Football Foundation, and of course the Borough Council of Wellingborough.”
Simon Churchman, Contracts Manager at Places Leisure, said: "At Places for People Leisure we’re extremely passionate about helping local communities stay physically active and emotionally engaged in fitness, sport and well-being. I believe the new and exciting addition of the 3G pitch at Redwell Leisure Centre will be an extremely positive asset to achieving this for the people of Wellingborough."
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 one across the country. Their funding has played a key role in delivering this new all-weather pitch in Northamptonshire and I am delighted for everyone associated with the Borough Council of Wellingborough.
“This is one example we want to make people in Northamptonshire aware of, that they have the kind of quality pitches and changing rooms that are taken for granted in other cities. We will continue to support projects nationwide, but we cannot do this on our own, so we are encouraging organisations in the area to join our movement to deliver quality football facilities for people in Northamptonshire once and for all.
“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.”