Lawrie re-surfaces to pitch in!
All-weather facility gets football legend’s seal of approval
HIS headed goal at Wembley in 1988 sparked one of the greatest upsets in English football history as unfancied Wimbledon toppled mighty Liverpool 1-0 in the FA Cup final.
And former Wycombe Wanderers FC manager Lawrie Sanchez was back in the limelight again as he officially opened Amersham and Wycombe College’s new third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch (AGP).
The floodlit all-weather pitch, which replaces the under-used natural grass space, could have a big impact on 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 be used by more than 5,000 students a year, will form a hub site for Berks and Bucks FA to deliver its Girls Development Centre and a number of coach education and refereeing courses.
Partner clubs Flackwell Health Minors FC and Wycombe Saints FC will also use the pitch during the football season, with female participation expected to rise by 96%.
In order to maximise year-round usage and increase local participation, Amersham and Wycombe College worked alongside the Football Foundation and Berks and Bucks FA to compile a five-year Football Development Plan.
The college’s community partner Wycombe Wanderers FC will deliver two weekly sessions for boys and girls, while educational partners Reading FC will support students to improve and develop a wide range of skills.
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 the Government, via Sport England.
It develops new and refurbished grassroots sports facilities.
It has awarded around 15,000 grants worth more than £580million towards improving grassroots sport, which it has used to attract additional partnership funding of more than £800m – £1.4bn of investment into the grassroots game.
The Partners’ investment has provided 305 grants worth £10m towards grassroots sports projects worth over £70m across Berkshire and Buckinghamshire.
This investment has covered seven new 3G AGPs, 27 changing room pavilions and 40 natural grass pitches.
New state-of-the-art facilities will strengthen the connection between professional football clubs and their local communities.
Mr Sanchez, Wanderers’ longest serving manager, 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 huge number 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 so many 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.”
Amersham and Wycombe College principal Jackie Watt said: “We are very grateful to Lawrie for taking the time to open our new facility and we also thank the Premier League and The FA Facilities Fund for their invaluable support and funding.”
PICTURE: DAVID CANNON GETTY IMAGES Star signing: Lawrie Sanchez autographs a player’s shirt
More than 5,000 people a year are expected to use the new pitch
Magic moment: Lawrie Sanchez heads the winning goal in the 1988 FA Cup final