FA Chair Debbie Hewitt MBE, EFL CEO Trevor Birch, and Cheshire East Mayor David Marren, joined local dignitaries to officially open Crewe Alexandra in the Community’s (CAITC) new state-of-the-art synthetic pitch on Saturday 17 September.
The ceremony celebrated the completion of an ambitious £400,000 project to create a top-quality playing surface in South Cheshire, at the centre in Crewe Road, Shavington.
Now the FIFA-quality pitch, which can accommodate a full-sized game or six small-sided matches, is accessible to members of the public and it will bring huge benefits to the many services already provided at the facility, which attracts around 5,000 visitors each week.
Debbie Hewitt, addressing the attendees, who included members of Cheshire East Council, Crewe Town Council, and Crewe Alexandra directors, said: “What has been delivered here is an absolute credit to everybody involved.
“I live locally and I’ve been part of this community since 2003, and I’ve seen first-hand the hugely positive benefits that this investment has brought.
“On behalf of all of my FA colleagues, thank you for your leadership. But also, as a neighbour and part of this community, thank you for what you have done for us.”
Trevor Birch, who is also a board member of the EFL’s charitable trust, added: “It’s great to witness the wonderful upgrade to this community asset.
“Football clubs and their community operations are part of the social fabric within a community, binding us all together. Fantastic work is done, and this ceremony demonstrates that in spades. Well done to you all.”
Crewe Alexandra’s not-for-profit Community Operation has come a long way since being set up in a Portakabin at Gresty Road, in 1988.
Having moved to the Shavington site in 1990, the purpose-built complex which stands today was opened in 1999.
CAITC’s goal is to guide people along a football journey and offer a wide range of fulfilling opportunities via an extensive outreach programme.
Dedicated staff deliver services seven days a week, including working with local primary schools and providing breakfast and after-school clubs for youngsters. Productive partnerships have been established with the likes of Cheshire Police and Reaseheath College.
Coaching sessions are provided for all ages and abilities, with strong emphasis placed on promoting the women’s game and supporting disability football. Mini-soccer leagues attract in excess of 800 children every Sunday, and more than 50 adult teams play in competitive leagues through the week.
Charles Grant, Chairman of CAITC’s Board of Trustees, added: “What we do here is more than just football.
“For many years we’ve been providing facilities for people to play football, be educated and generally have access to a healthy, fun, and safe environment in which to learn.
“Ray Walker and his team have worked very hard to make this facility what it is. It’s long been a pride of the local area, and now we have a super pitch for everybody to use.”
Ray Walker, Community Manager, said: “The surface is absolutely first-class, the best you can get, and we have installed a new viewing area for spectators which will also make a big difference.
“This is a truly brilliant facility, and it’s here to be used. It’ll prove very popular with the thousands of people who already come to the centre each week.”
For more information on the work of Crewe Alexandra in the Community, visit crewealexandrainthecommunity.com