A JUNIOR football club has kicked off the start to the new season on a brand new grass sports pitch at a popular Blackburn sports ground, thanks to support from Newground Together.
The Blackburn-based charity has helped provide the funding for the multi-sport pitch at Feniscowles and Pleasington War Memorial Recreation Ground – helping trustees achieve their goal of increasing sporting opportunities for local young people.
Newground Together added £15,000 to the £22,715 already raised by Feniscowles and Pleasington Junior Football Club. The money has been used to create the pitch and train young people as referees, sports leaders and instructors.
More than 300 young people and 240 adults take part in the 26 football, four tennis, four bowls and eight cricket teams that regularly train and compete at the recreation ground – located on the QE2 Heritage site, off Livesey Branch Road.
Trustee and football coach Mike Caton said: “The new multi-sports pitch is fantastic, a great addition to the sports pitches we have already. It will allow us to increase the capacity of the sports we are able to offer.
“Football is very popular, as well as our boys’ teams we have six girls’ teams and we run Football for All sessions for three to 12-year-olds on a Saturday morning. Before we had to turn people away, but now we have more capacity. We’ll also be able to expand our football and cricket teams.
“The funding has been a welcome boost because before we were totally self-funded.”
The recreation ground and sports on offer have had a huge impact on the local area, levels of anti-social behaviour have dropped significantly and childhood obesity has reduced since the club began engaging young people in sport 10 years ago.
Teenagers are also being given the opportunity to learn lifelong skills through sport about tolerance, teamwork and fitness.
Ryan McClean, 15, is one of eight young footballers who have been sponsored to go on a refereeing course, thanks to the funding provided.
“I’ve been playing football here since I was five-years-old, but have got involved with coaching and refereeing more recently,” said Ryan.
“It takes a lot of hard work and dedication, but it keeps me out of trouble. Before I was just hanging around and playing on my X-Box. Now I want to work and train really hard so I can be good at the game and one day become a coach or referee.”
Newground Together supports projects interested in improving and enhancing the environment, tackling urban and rural regeneration, providing leisure and recreation facilities in the interests of social welfare, supporting education and training and improving the life chances of young people.
Peter Jordan, Executive Director of Newground Together, said: “We were delighted to support the trustees with their funding for the new sports pitch. This is a superb example of a successful grassroots, community-based project that meets a number of the charity’s goals.
“The facility is contributing to the creation of better neighbourhoods, is increasing leisure and recreation facilities which promote wellbeing and creates exciting new opportunities for young people.”
The sports facilities are used by families from Feniscowles, Green Lane and Livesey – areas where Twin Valley Homes, also a member of the Together Housing Group, has homes.