The project was made possible by a grant from the Premier League and The FA Facilities Fund.
Andrew Jones MP was joined by two school staff members, Max Mills MBE and Mike Knowles, both of whom were instrumental to the project.
The grant has enabled the school to replace an existing grass pitch, prone to waterlogging, with a state-of-the-art third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch (AGP). This will benefit St John’s students, as well as partner clubs Harrogate Town AFC and Pannal Sports JFC.
Both partner clubs previously had to travel for training due to a lack of adequate facilities in the area. They will now base all of their training at the St John’s pitch, which will aid a 971% increase in football participation across all ages at the site. Partner club Harrogate Town AFC, who play in the National League North, will also use the pitch to deliver community outreach programmes.
Andrew Jones MP said:
This is a welcome addition to the town and will be used by Saint John Fishers during the daytime and Harrogate Town AFC during the evening.
The pitch demonstrates huge ambition and has only happened due to many people all working together.
In the past the pitch would become a muddy mess, but not now. It will also open up the facility for more sport and use for those that may be disabled.
The facility will be a key venue for the development of girls’ football participation in the area. Eight brand new female teams are planned, including a women’s open-age side, which is expected to increase female football participation by 1,615% across all ages.
Saint John Fisher, Head Teacher, Rob Pritchard said:
Thank you to Andrew Jones, Mike Knowles and Max Mills for opening our facility. We are really grateful to the Premier league, the FA facilities fund and the support of Harrogate Town in helping our School achieve this long held ambition. Our first class school sports teams now have facilities to match their talent and dedication and we are thrilled that grass roots and community teams of all ages and abilities are already making good use of the pitch.
The project was made possible thanks to a £347,000 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which is delivered by the Football Foundation.
Since 2000, the Football Foundation Funding Partners’ investment has provided 520 grants worth Â£19.4m towards grassroots sports projects worth over Â£38.4m across the whole of West Riding.
Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said:
The Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund provides the investment necessary to improve grassroots football facilities. So, I am delighted to see St John Fisher Catholic High School join thousands of local clubs and organisations who have reaped its benefit, in this case through the opening of a new all-weather pitch.
Having delivered over £1.4bn of grassroots sports infrastructure projects, the Football Foundation has developed a network of accessible, first-class facilities in areas they will have the greatest impact – thanks to money from the Premier League, The FA and the Government via Sport England.
These facilities are more than places to play football at, these facilities are hubs of physical activity, the bedrock of local communities and ‘homes from home’ for so many who also use them as social outlets to learn new skills, gain work experience and other qualifications.
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 Â£580m towards improving grassroots sport, which it has used to attract additional partnership funding of over £800m – £1.4bn of investment into the grassroots games.