Lawrie re-sur­faces to pitch in!

All-weather fa­cil­ity gets foot­ball le­gend’s seal of ap­proval

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - COMMUNITY NEWS -

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

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