England captain Wayne Rooney says The FA's announcement that it will invest heavily in grassroots facilities is "great news" and can only help potential Three Lions players of the future.
FA Chairman Greg Dyke launched the second part of his England Commission report on Friday with one of the proposals being a £230m cash injection over five years.
Wayne Rooney: Investment is "great news"
Part of the plan is to increase the number of artificial grass pitches (APGs) across the country by 130 per cent to over 500.
Sheffield is the current focus of a pilot programme, which will be extended to Liverpool - Rooney's home city - in the near future.
“The FA is investing in new football facilities in Liverpool and across England, so this is great news to hear because it can only benefit our country, benefit the kids and benefit each city that get these new pitches. It is really great news,” said the Manchester United striker.
“When I grew up in Liverpool the pitches weren’t great and there wasn’t really the facilities for us to change where we were playing, so it was quite difficult at times.
“The local Sunday league team where I was playing, we used to get changed on the pitch so it wasn’t ideal, especially if it was raining or cold," Rooney recalled.
"It wasn’t the ideal preparation you want before you go and play a game so it would be great if we can try and get better facilities and better pitches."
The report has proposed that by 2020 there will be:
- Football hubs in 30 cities, increasing the number of top-quality artificial grass pitches (AGPs) in urban areas by 130 per cent to more than 500
- Leading the way will be a pilot scheme in Sheffield, followed by Birmingham and Liverpool.
- A 50 per cent increase in the total number of full-size, publicly accessible 3G AGPs across England, to over 1,000.
- More than 150 new football-owned and managed football hubs to support the delivery of FA, County FA and professional club youth development and coach education programmes.
- More than 50 per cent of all mini-soccer and youth football matches - about 3,750 per week – being played on the best quality AGPs
Rooney grew up in Liverpool and started his professional career with Everton before moving to Manchester United.
But it was on a small pitch near his house that he began playing the game as a young boy.
"I remember where I lived, there was a five-a-side pitch behind my house which belonged to the local youth club," said the 28-year-old.
"That pitch has gone now and there a lot more pitches that have gone, to either get houses up or have different things built on them.
"It is definitely getting worse and the facilities aren’t there for young people now to enjoy football."
He added: “We’re losing pitches and facilities every day and cities like Liverpool they certainly need 3G pitches to help the kids progress in playing football, for them to enjoy it more and it is suitable to play in all weathers.
"It would be perfect if we could get more pitches there.
“The young kids today need better facilities to go and learn their skills, practice when they can and that will only benefit them and benefit England for the future."