Football: Springfield pitch officially opened

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Constable Steve Pallett, the States politician with special responsibility for sport, gave a brief speech on Springfield’s history and development before introducing Barry Bright, the leader of The FA Council and National Game Board Member, who officially declared the artificial grass pitch open – but not before praising the work of the JFA in working alongside FA officials to bring about the creation of the facility.

It was, he said, something for the Island to be proud of, and something that will be the envy of many places, not just in the UK, but also throughout Europe.

JFA Capita Centre of Excellence youngsters put the pitch to good use for the first time on Monday eveningIsland football stalwarts Frank Lucas and Brian Ahier were in attendance - and impressed

He also warmly thanked the efforts of an army of volunteers who help support football in the Island.

It was a deliberate decision to hold off the official opening of the new synthetic pitch at Springfield for a training session of the Jersey Football Association’s Capita Centre of Excellence as the key to its use is, if the term is not a little outdated now, grass-roots football.

The pitch will provide local clubs with year-round access to football training, support the development of football and coaching on the Island and provide a first-class sports facility for the local community.

The new facility was made possible thanks to a £400,000 grant from the Premier League and The FA Facilities Fund, which provides grants towards developing new or refurbished grassroots football facilities, and £616,298 from the States of Jersey.

Island youngsters join in with JFA director of football Brian Little, JFA president Phil Austin, FA Council leader Barry Bright, and Constable Steve Pallett in scoring at Springfield on Monday night

The Premier League and The FA Facilities Fund is funded by the Premier League, The FA, and the Government, via Sport England. It is delivered by the Football Foundation, the country’s largest sports charity.

Barry Bright, Leader of The FA Council, commented: ‘It was an honour to be in Jersey to officially open the excellent new 3G pitch at Springfield Stadium.

‘The second report from The FA Chairman’s England Commission stressed the importance of investing in grassroots facilities, supporting coach development and avoiding participation decline among 16-21-year-olds.

‘St Helier’s new 3G facility, which The FA has funded through the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, expertly delivered by the Football Foundation, is the perfect example of how football’s governing bodies are working together to tackle the issues highlighted by the Commission.

‘The Jersey FA has produced a five-year Football Development Plan (FDP) which will ensure that the Springfield Stadium becomes a central hub for football on the densely-populated Island.

Barry Bright, leader of The FA Council, speaks at the opening of Springfield Stadium's new 3G playing surface

‘The high-quality playing surface will enable football participation at the site to increase significantly and provide a venue for FA coach education courses, ensuring a sustainable future for football in Jersey.

‘I’d like to thank everyone who helped make this project possible and I look forward to watching the development of football on the Island.’

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