The new pitch will provide a community training hub, much-needed in the area. This will benefit not only Selwoood Academy, but other users including Frome Town AFC, Frome Town YFC and From Collegians FC. Bristol City FC also plan to take advantage of the new pitch, delivering a number of community outreach sessions. It is expected that the new facility will result in a 306% boost in overall sport participation on-site.
Selwood Academy worked with the Football Foundation and the Somerset FA, as well as local football clubs in Frome, to secure a £498,621 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund towards the project.
This marks a significant milestone in a long journey involving many stakeholders. Planning was awarded by Mendip District Council in November 2017 and the school now hopes to have the facility open and available for community use by the end of 2018.
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.
The Premier League & 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. Since it was launched in 2000, the Foundation has awarded around 15,000 grants worth nearly £580m towards improving grassroots sport, which it has used to attract additional partnership funding of just under £800m – over £1.4bn of investment into the grassroots game.
Brendan Dix, Somerset FA County Development Manager, said: “The pursuit of a 3G AGP in Frome to support and develop numerous aspects of grassroots football within the area has now spanned numerous years and has remained as a high priority area for Somerset FA. The demand for a facility of this kind has escalated in the last 24 months and a lot of hard work, consultation and partnership working has been undertaken behind the scenes to secure this high amount of investment to offer a modern football facility for the local community. There is still a lot of work to do until the project is complete and fully operational, but the funding now secured is a huge step in the right direction.”
Jean Hopegood, Headteacher of Selwood Academy, said: “Selwood Academy recognised the need within the local and wider community and we have worked tirelessly with so many representatives to achieve this fantastic outcome. The 3G AGP will not only address the community need but also provide hugely improved facilities for our pupils. I would like to thank the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, as well as all those who have helped develop and shape the Business Plan and Football Development Plan over the past 5 years including staff both past and present. In particular, Mrs Katie Mines who, after picking up the mantle from Mrs Gill Driffield in 2016, drove the project forward with such determination and tenacity.”
Graham Clarke, Frome Collegians FC Club President, said: “This is fantastic news for footballers in Frome, who will benefit enormously from such an excellent all-weather pitch and we can’t wait to play on it. We greatly appreciate the efforts of staff at Selwood Academy who have made this project a reality.”
Jeremy Alderman, Chairman, Frome Town AFC, said: “It’s great that Frome is finally getting the football training facility it needs and this will prevent our teams having to travel to Bath and Writhlington in the winter months. It’s good to see some of the money in football trickling down to those that really need it.”
Gary Collinson, Frome Town Councillor, said: “As a Town Council we have been pushing for improved sports facilities in the town and we hope this will be the first step towards a comprehensive improvement for all sports clubs. It will enable us to start to reduce the trend of declining participation, much of which is as a result of sub-standard or no facilities.”
Jamie Malley, Frome Town Robbins FC Chairman, said: “This is brilliant for sports provision in Frome, we’d like to thank everyone who has worked so tirelessly on this project.”
Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said: “It is fantastic news for Selwood Academy to have been awarded a grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund to develop a new all-weather pitch.
“Since 2000, the Foundation has awarded 222 grants worth over £9.6m across Somerset towards grassroots sports projects worth £21m. This latest project, in Frome, will have a great impact on the local community by opening up access to our national game and improving the quality of sporting experience they enjoy at the enhanced facilities.
“It has been made possible by investment from the Premier League, The FA and Government, via Sport England.”