Just over a week after winning a Buildbase bursary, Shoreham FC are already hard at working improving their facilities.
The Southern Combination Division One side, along with Basford United, won £25,000 in building materials in the final round of funding from the 2020 Buildbase £100k Transfer Deal programme.
And Sussex-based Shoreham have already started renovating their main changing rooms at the 2000-capacity Middle Road and will also use the bursary to develop a new one catering for girls.
“The Buildbase £100k Transfer Deal is vital for our survival,” says co-chairman Stuart Slaney.
“In order to improve and serve the community we usually rely on donations, so this kind of lump sum in building materials is life changing. We can also now spend our own funds, originally set aside for maintenance, on bills or other projects.
“We'll use the grant to repair our main changing rooms – which have been slowly damaged by the winter weather and now need a new roof – and invest in women’s football. We have a 30-foot cabin that we are currently turning into a changing room for girls.
"We will also renovate our West Stand by adding block seating. The previous seats had badly corroded so we recently had to close the stand. Now we can reopen it and in doing so improve the matchday experience. It will also allow parents, during youth matches, to sit behind the goal and watch their kids."
The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t stopped Shoreham getting straight to work and, as a result, they hope to complete most of the improvements by early July.
With his college shut, Slaney’s 17-year-old son Luca – who plays for Shoreham's U18s – has been helping his dad make immediate use of the bursary.
“We've really come together as a family during this difficult time,” says Slaney. "Luca and I have been getting up every morning, seven days per week, and spending three or four hours working at the club. He's pretty much painted everything in sight, including the turnstiles, floodlight box, clubhouse and main changing rooms. I think he's found a vocation as a handyman!
"Luca also has a keen interest in media. Last season we built a TV gantry and he helped film, edit and commentate on games. Right now, he shoots daily time lapses of the renovations so we can showcase our progress and update the community on social media. I think we're the first Buildbase grant winner to do this."
Shoreham hope their soon-to-be improved facilities will benefit the club at all levels. In particular, their commitment to women’s sport caught the judges' eyes when they pitched at Wembley Stadium in May.
The Buildbase bursary will triple the number of Shoreham's women's teams and allow a brand new FA SSE Wildcats centre to open at Middle Road once grassroots football resumes.
"We became affiliated to the Wildcats programme just before lockdown," added Slaney.
"We wanted to focus on coaching girls aged between 5-11 and expect to attract up to 40 girls per session. But to do this we need the new girls changing room first.
"We currently have two women's teams but once the changing room opens we can expand to six teams, with three playing home and three playing away every Sunday.
"We have a strong U15s women's team right now, who actually played up an age group last season, and I don't think it will be too long before we have an adult women's team."
Slaney also believes the new facilities will help men’s first team manager Mark Pulling attract new players as the 'Musselmen' strive for promotion back to the Southern Combination Premier Division next campaign.
“The look and feel of a football stadium is a reflection of the club at large,” says Slaney. “We want prospective players, or their parents, to come here and be impressed by our facilities and thus want to sign.
"Our aim is to get back into the Southern Combination Premier Division and our new changing room or renovated stand could be a deciding factor in signing a key player who can help us achieve this goal because it gives us an edge over our rivals."
All funds from the 2020 Buildbase 100k Transfer Deal have now been allocated. Barton Rovers and Stowmarket Town received the first two bursaries, with Shoreham and Basford United the final two beneficiaries. Stay tuned for details of next season’s programme over the coming months.