A newly refurbished third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch (AGP) which was opened at The Cowplain School in Hampshire recently (Wednesday 27 March), will support the continual growth of community football in Hampshire.
The refurbished full-size pitch was made possible thanks to investment from the Premier League, The FA and Government, through their charity, the Football Foundation and contribution from partner club Cowplain Youth FC.
After netting a £170,397 grant from the Football Foundation, the refurbishment of the pitch began in July 2018. The existing pitch was installed in 2004 and the site has become an exceptionally busy training facility for the local football community.
The replacement pitch will provide a first-class playing surface for Cowplain students throughout the day and cater for all forms of the game. In addition to this, partner club Cowplain Youth FC and organisations including Hordean Youth FC, Hayling United FC and the Portsmouth Sunday League will use the site as a match play venue.
Former students at Cowplain include Matthew Butcher who left the school in 2013 and now plays for Bournemouth FC, whilst Harry Kavanagh and Harvey-Joe Bertrand both left in 2018 and signed for Portsmouth FC and Bournemouth FC respectively. All three players grew up using the original all-weather facility at the school and are testament to the development of talent at the site.
The Cowplain School worked alongside Hampshire County FA to focus on areas where participation could be improved. Growth in girls’ football is one of the primary aims and the development of the school team with the support of Pompey in the Community would help to address this. The creation of seven new affiliated girls’ football teams would also lead to an additional 100 girls playing competitive football over the next five years.
Ian Gates, Headteacher at The Cowplain School, said: “On behalf of The Cowplain School, I would like to thank the Mayor and Mayoress for officially opening our new 3G all-weather pitch. I’d also like to thank the Premier League, the FA and government for their funding through the Football Foundation and partner club Cowplain Youth FC, for supporting the redevelopment of our facility.
“With this new development, the school will be a vibrant centre of sport in the community with a range of activities and sporting opportunities for individuals of all ages. Our successful organisation will help us achieve the best for our students and those of the local community.”
Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said: “The support of the Premier League, The FA and government enables the Football Foundation to help improve community sports facilities like this one across the country. Their funding has played a key role in delivering this refurbished all-weather pitch in Hampshire and I am delighted for everyone associated with The Cowplain School.
“This is one example we want to make people in Hampshire aware of, that they have the kind of quality pitches and changing rooms that are taken for granted in other counties. We will continue to support projects nationwide, but we cannot do this on our own, so we are encouraging organisations in the area to join our movement to deliver quality football facilities for people in Hampshire once and for all.
“Taking part in community sport at any level offers many benefits and rewards, not least the opportunity for people to enjoy themselves and socialise with different members of the community.”
Ian Gates, Headteacher at Cowplain School, Councillor Peter Wade, Mayor of Havant (centre), and his wife Janet Wade, unveil the school's newly refurbished all-weather pitch.