A BRAND new £620,000 state-of-the-art football pitch has been officially opened in Hartlepool.
Hartlepool Mayor, Coun Stephen Akers-Belcher, officially opened the new third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch at Brierton Sports Complex, off Catcote Road.
The pitch was made possible thanks to a £602,800 grant from the Premier League and The FA Facilities Fund, which provides grants towards developing new or refurbished grassroots football facilities.
The grant has enabled Hartlepool Borough Council to establish Brierton Sports Complex as a “hub” for local football.
Officials say the full-size pitch will be available to use all year round and reduced rental rates for local clubs will “significantly increase participation”.
The project also includes upgrades to the grass pitches at the site, enhancing provision for junior football and ensuring that fewer games are called off due to waterlogged pitches.
Hartlepool Borough Council will work closely with local partner club Greatham FC who will use the 3G and grass pitches for training and matches. The club plans to increase the number of teams from 15 to 20 over the next five years, with plans to establish two new girls’ teams in the near future.
The site will also play host to the Durham FA’s Coach Education Programme and an 11 versus 11 summer league which they hope will help address the decline of adult male football in the area.
The new facility, opened at the weekend, has been praised by town officials.
Labour councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher, leader of Hartlepool Borough Council, said: “I’d like to thank the Premier League and the FA Facilities Fund for making this project possible.
“It will improve grassroots sport in Hartlepool immeasurably and benefit all of the local community for many years.”
Hartlepool-born Sky Sports presenter Jeff Stelling has also praised the new facility.
He said: “As a Hartlepool man, naturally I am delighted to hear of Brierton Sports Complex’s new 3G pitch.
“As a supporter of the Football Foundation, I have visited similar sites previously and seen first-hand just how crucial they are to the grassroots game in this country. Facilities like these promote the next generation of footballing talent, and I am very thankful to the Premier League and The FA Facilities Fund for investing so heavily into Hartlepool.”
Paul Thorogood, chief executive of the Football Foundation, added: “The Football Foundation is responsible for managing and delivering the Premier League and The FA Facilities Fund, which is funded by the Premier League, The FA and the Government, via Sport England.
“This 3G pitch is an example of the positive impact that this funding is having on our grassroots game.
“First-class facilities like this are crucial to creating more opportunities for local people to enjoy regular sport.
“Aided by the Durham FA, Hartlepool Borough Council deserves huge credit for taking a vision and turning it into a reality, using funding provided by the Premier League and The FA Facilities Fund.”
The council worked in partnership with the Durham FA and Greatham FC to secure a £602,800 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund.
Funded by the Premier League, The FA, and the Government, via Sport England, the Premier League and The FA Facilities Fund is delivered by the Football Foundation, the country’s largest sports charity.