NIGEL Clough and Ben Robinson returned to Pingle Academy for the inauguration of a new 3G sports facility 13 years after being on hand when the school’s first all-weather surface was officially opened.
They were joined by England Under 20s manager Paul Simpson and representatives of the partner organisations who have made the new facility a reality.
A £239,934 investment from the Premier League and The FA Facilities Fund, delivered by the Football Foundation has enabled Pingle Academy to replace their existing all-weather pitch, which was originally installed in 2005 and had reached the end of its operational life due to heavy usage.
The new pitch has been installed with an improved drainage system, refurbished floodlights and replacement boundary fencing to bring the facility up to current guidelines.
Sitting alongside the school’s grass football and rugby pitches, the upgraded 3G pitch will not only benefit students at the school, but also many partner organisations, such as Woodville Rangers FC, Gresley in The Community, Derby County Community Trust, Burton Albion Community Trust and the Burton Junior Football League. Thanks to the pitch becoming a central venue for the league, it is expected that 25 new teams will use the site.
Burton Albion manager Nigel Clough said: “It’s a great new facility that will be a tremendous asset to the school and the community. Pingle Academy was named the most improved school in all of Derbyshire this year and everyone should be very proud of what they have achieved in getting this project completed.”
Brewer Chairman Ben Robinson said: “We are delighted to come back 13 years later for the opening of the new facility. Burton Albion Football Club has always been about supporting the community and using the power of sport to make a difference and that’s what this new all-weather surface is going to do achieve as well.”
The Pingle Academy was awarded a grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund towards the project. Working alongside the Football Foundation, South Derbyshire District Council and Derbyshire FA, a five-year Football Development Plan was compiled, which is a vision of how sport will be played on the site with an emphasis on increasing participation.
The new surface is set to support the formation several affiliated football teams over the next five years, growing from 48 to 73 teams using the facility. This will contribute to nearly 350 additional people playing football at the site, which represents a 41 per cent growth.
Pictures by Richard Holmes