Seetec proud supporters of new sports facility in Essex
The Rt Hon. Mark Francois, MP for Rayleigh and Wickford, officially unveiled a state-of-the-art changing pavilion at the Apex Sports Ground in Hockley recently. He was joined by Ted Smith, Southend United FC goalkeeper.
Greensward Academy and Hawkwell Athletic FC worked in partnership with the Essex FA to secure a £422,840 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund. The project also received investment from employment and skills specialist Seetec, one of Hawkwell Athletic’s sponsors.
The grant has enabled the school and partner club Hawkwell Athletic to build a new changing pavilion comprising: four changing rooms; two officials’ changing rooms; a clubroom; a kitchen and spectator toilets. The funding has also helped to install new fencing and improve the site’s carpark.
Previously, the site had no changing facilities and used shipping containers as equipment storage. The new pavilion, which also has provision for teaching, will provide players with a more comfortable and complete experience.
The site will primarily be used by Hawkwell Athletic FC, which counts former Southend United FC and Manchester City FC defender Spencer Prior amongst its alumni, whilst Academy students will be able to take advantage of the new facilities during PE lessons. The project is expected to boost sports participation at the site by 209% across all ages.
Hawkwell Athletic FC and Greensward Academy worked alongside the Essex FA and the Football Foundation to compile a five-year Football Development Plan, which is a vision of how sport will be played on site with an emphasis on increasing participation.
Hawkwell Athletic FC has teams ranging from Mini-Soccer level to veterans, which play in multiple leagues including the South East Essex Primary Mini-Soccer League, Southend Junior District League and Southend Sunday League.
As a result of the project, the club plan to introduce 21 new teams, taking their total from 31 to 52. This supports the predicted increase of 178% in football participation across all ages at the site.
Additionally, prior to the new pavilion being built, none of Hawkwell’s senior teams used the site. Now, they will play a number of their matches at the facility – helping to boost sport participation in those aged over 26 by 446%.
Founded in 2000, the Football Foundation is the largest sports charity in the UK funded by the Premier League, The FA and Government, via Sport England. It develops new and refurbished grassroots sports facilities in order to improve the quality and experience of playing sport at the grassroots level. Since it was launched in 2000, the Foundation has awarded around 15,000 grants worth more than £580m towards improving grassroots sport, which it has used to attract additional partnership funding of over £800m – £1.4bn of investment into the grassroots game.
Since 2000, the Football Foundation Funding Partners’ investment has provided 367 grants worth £15.9m towards grassroots sports projects worth over £29.4m across the whole of Essex.
By providing more high-quality facilities, coupled with coaching at the appropriate age group, the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund aims to improve the experience for regular players as well as attracting new players to the game. Many of the new state-of-the-art facilities will serve to strengthen the connection between professional football clubs and their local communities, particularly in the most deprived areas of the country, through the professional clubs’ community trusts’ outreach work.
The Rt Hon. Mark Francois, MP for Rayleigh and Wickford, said: “My thanks go to Greensward Academy and Hawkwell Athletic FC for inviting me to officially unveil their excellent new pavilion. It is clear to see that this will have a hugely positive impact on grassroots sport in the area, by giving community members a state-of-the-art facility to help keep them fit, healthy and happy.
“I’d like to congratulate the club and the school on their efforts in securing the funding for the project, and for bringing it to fruition. Through money from the Premier League, The FA and the Government, through Sport England, the Football Foundation is working hard to deliver excellent facilities like this one across the country.”
Craig Leverington, Chairman of Hawkwell Athletic FC, said: “I would like to thank Mark Francois MP and Ted Smith for attending our opening ceremony and doing us the honour of cutting our ribbon to mark the beginning of a fantastic new chapter in the future of Hawkwell Athletic and Greensward Academy.
“I would also like to thank the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund for their fantastic work in funding grassroots football development. This facility will benefit many future generations of players, parents, students, teachers and volunteers in our local area and we can’t wait to let everyone in to take a look.”
Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said: “The Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund provides the investment necessary to improve grassroots football facilities. So, I am delighted to see Hawkwell Athletic FC and Greensward Academy join thousands of local clubs and organisations who have reaped its benefit, in this case through the opening of a new changing pavilion. I would like to thank the Rt Hon. Mark Francois MP and Ted Smith for taking the time to unveil the facility.
“Having delivered over £1.4bn of grassroots sports infrastructure projects, the Football Foundation has developed a network of accessible, first-class facilities in areas they will have the greatest impact – thanks to money from the Premier League, The FA and the Government via Sport England.
“These facilities are more than places to play football at, these facilities are hubs of physical activity, the bedrock of local communities and ‘homes from home’ for so many who also use them as social outlets to learn new skills, gain work experience and other qualifications.”