FA launch pitch improvement plan
15:30 11 March 2016
Effort underway to improve grass pitches across England
The Football Association have launched a four-year £8 million Pitch Improvement Programme (PIP) to enhance grass football surfaces across the country, delivering upgrades to more than 2,000 pitches.
With pitch improvement being a central pillar of the organisation’s 2015-19 Strategy for Participation and Development, PIP will provide a range of support services to grassroots clubs, club volunteers and groundsmen, including on-site evaluations with practical advice and recommendations.
It will also include a range of measures to help develop the skills and knowledge of the volunteers and groundsmen, including seminars and workshops. In partnership with Sport England and other governing bodies, The FA has also developed a dedicated website - www.groundsmanship.co.uk - where details for accessing help can be found.
The FA have appointed two industry partners, Redexim Charterhouse and Rigby Taylor, who will assist in the rollout by supplying FA-affiliated grassroots clubs with discounted products and materials and by supporting training workshops.
One of the great challenges that many clubs in grassroots football face is that currently in England, 83% of pitches are publicly owned and, as austerity measures kick in, local authority budgets are increasingly being squeezed. Funds for pitch maintenance are often at risk as councils are forced to prioritise essential services.
In addition to the commitment to improve grass pitches, The FA has also pledged to spend £36 million on facility improvements and new developments directly through the Premier League and FA Facilities Fund, managed by the Football Foundation.
Kelly Simmons, FA Director for Participation and Development, said: “Last winter we asked people from across grassroots football what they felt would make playing football better.
“Nearly 30,000 people gave us their view. Amongst the vast majority the answer was remarkably similar - supporting clubs to improve their pitches. We have committed to investing a total of £260 million in addressing the problem of poor quality facilities and improving grassroots coaching by 2019.”
The official roll out of the PIP follows extensive piloting which has already seen £1 million invested and over 800 visits to grassroots football pitches by trained experts. Mark Pover, The FA’s National Facilities Manager, added: “PIP has already proven to be a tremendous resource for many grassroots clubs.
“Through the introduction of new technologies, The FA is able to develop local investment strategies and continue talking directly with clubs about the state of the facilities they use, providing dedicated programmes to help with improvements.
“This also gives us an early warning of pitch conditions and pitches under threat of development, strengthening our hand when it comes to challenging closures and maintenance programmes.”
If you’re looking to improve your football facilities, which could involve refurbishing and improving changing rooms, natural grass or 3G artificial turf pitches, the first step in the process is to use the ‘Grant Finder’ facility.
Visit www.essexfa.com/more/facilities-and-funding for details. Information is also shared on Twitter @EssexCountyFA and by searching for ‘EssexFootball’ on Facebook.