England managers unveil new artificial pitch in Kent

Friday 03 Oct 2014
Roy Hodgson and Mark Sampson were in Biggin Hill in Kent on Friday morning
England managers Roy Hodgson and Mark Sampson were out in force on Friday to help unveil a new state-of-the-art artificial pitch in Kent.

Both the men’s and women’s bosses arrived at Charles Darwin School in Biggin Hill to see boys and girls already making use of the new £300,000 floodlit surface.

England managers Roy Hodgson and Mark Sampson visit Charles Darwin School in Biggin Hill

 


The new 3G pitch was funded as part of an upgrade to the sports facilities at the school by the Premier League and FA Facilities Fund and Football Foundation. It's the latest in a series of grassroots improvements taking place across the country.

And Hodgson was pleased to see the next generation of footballers in action on the pitch in the Autumn sunshine, as well as the capacity to stage games and training throughout the year, and at any time of day.

"It’s a very good surface and a beautiful setting, so it’s nice to see the money being invested in these type of facilities, because we’ve seen already how excited the people playing on it are," said Hodgson, just a day after naming his squad for next week’s European Qualifiers with San Marino and Estonia.

"It’s going to get an awful lot of usage too, because these type of pitches last well and you can use them from morning through to night. There will be a lot of football played here.

"After spending so much time in Scandinavia myself, facilities of this quality and nature were provided to every community and I’d love to see that happening here.

"So it’s up to people like ourselves, the Football Foundation and the Premier League to do what we can on a charitable basis through the shape of this Facilities Fund."

The visit of Hodgson and Sampson, who also answered questions from the pupils, coincided with the announcement of a further £7m worth of funding to 88 grassroots projects across the nation over the coming months. 

Roy Hodgson meets young players at the Charles Darwin School in Kent.

Hodgson met some of the pupils at Charles Darwin School

Those grants will support projects worth £31m and follow on from a £5.8m injection that benefited 67 projects in June.

And the investment at Charles Darwin takes the amount of grassroots funding that the Kent FA has overseen to over £1m in local projects this year alone. 

"I’m delighted to be here and it’s great to see a wonderful facility being developed for the players," added Sampson, whose side will be making history when they take on Germany at Wembley next month

"It will be a huge help to the community for people to just walk down the road and see a great surface.

"That can only encourage people to come down and take part in a game, that’s what we want - to see people playing and enjoying football.

"For me, to see so many young girls playing here is obviously exciting.

England Women

Sampson faces questions from the pupils after a football session on the new surface

"You want people to play the game and give them that mentality that when they’re sat at home they want to get out and play football, whatever the weather, because they’ve got facilities such as this to play on.

"The young players here today, you can see it in their eyes when they walk across the pitch, just how excited they are to be able to start playing and we hope that will be replicated throughout the course of the year."

Since 2000, the Football Foundation - the country’s largest sports charity - has awarded around 12,000 grants towards improving grassroots football. 

It is funded by the Premier League, The FA, and the Government, via Sport England and with additional partnership funding has been able to plough over £1 billion of investment into the grassroots game so far.

By Nicholas Veevers in Biggin Hill, Kent