The project was made possible thanks to a grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which is delivered by the Football Foundation.
The floodlit all-weather pitch, which can be used all-year-round and replaces a previously under-used natural grass space, is projected to have a big impact on local sport in High Wycombe.
In addition to the extensive use by BTEC, higher education and apprenticeship students, the new grassroots facility, which is anticipated to attract over 5,000 students annually, the 3G will enable partner clubs Flackwell Health Minors FC and Wycombe Saints FC to utilise use the pitch throughout the football season for match play and training.
In order to maximise the facility’s year-round usage and increase participation in the local community, Amersham & Wycombe College worked alongside the Football Foundation and Berks & Bucks FA to compile a five-year Football Development Plan (FDP) – a long-term delivery strategy that maps out how sport will be played on-site.
As part of this plan, the college’s community partner Wycombe Wanderers FC SET will deliver two weekly sessions for their boys’ and girls’ development programmes, while educational partners Reading FC will support students to improve and develop a wide range of skills through football.
The project was made possible thanks to a £451,000 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which is delivered by the Football Foundation.
Founded in 2000, the Football Foundation is the largest sports charity in the UK funded by the Premier League, The FA and Government, via Sport England. It develops new and refurbished grassroots sports facilities in order to improve the quality and experience of playing sport at the grassroots level. Since it was launched in 2000, the Foundation has awarded around 15,000 grants worth more than £580m towards improving grassroots sport, which it has used to attract additional partnership funding of over £800m – £1.4bn of investment into the grassroots game.
Since 2000, the Football Foundation Funding Partners’ investment has provided 305 grants worth £10m towards grassroots sports projects worth over £70m across the whole of Berkshire and Buckinghamshire. This investment has covered seven new 3G AGPs, 27 changing room pavilions and 40 natural grass pitches.
By providing more high-quality facilities, coupled with coaching at the appropriate age group, the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund aims to improve the experience for regular players as well as attracting new players to the game. Many of the new state-of-the-art facilities will serve to strengthen the connection between professional football clubs and their local communities, particularly in the most deprived areas of the country, through the professional clubs’ community trusts’ outreach work.
Lawrie Sanchez, Wycombe Wanderers FC’s longest ever serving manager, who famously guided the Chairboys to an historic FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool in 2001, said: “What a first-class facility this all-weather pitch is, it’s so important that these types of quality grassroots facilities are developed for local communities. I am so impressed by the hugenumber of students, grassroots sides, regional associations, and even professional clubs’ community trusts, who will call this facility home.
“It is encouraging to see the Football Foundation channelling investment from the Premier League, The FA and the Government via Sport England, to build this fantastic community hub in High Wycombe.
“These pitches attract more and more players to get involved in the game, and more than this, enjoy all the benefits that come through playing regular sport. We may even see the next crop of Wycombe or Reading’s young sports stars emerge from this very playing surface!”
Jackie Watt, Amersham & Wycombe College Principal, said: “We are very grateful to Lawrie Sanchez for taking the time out to open our new facility and I would also like to thank the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund for their invaluable support and funding. We believe the new facility will help to improve grassroots sport throughout the region.”