Former Norwich City, Blackburn Rovers and Celtic FC star Chris Sutton and Ipswich Town, Rangers FC & England demi-god Terry Butcher met up with grass roots talent guru Greg Dyke last week as The FA Chairman continues to show his commitment to the future development of English talent with a tour of Lowestoft in Suffolk. Here and throughout the local FA family a series of football facility improvements have given a major boost to grassroots football in the area. It’s great to see that Chris Sutton appears to be showing his coaching ability after a managerial experience at Lincoln almost saw him lost to the game.
Co-funded by the The FA, Premier League and the Government, through umbrella organisation Sport England, The Premier League and The FA Facilities Fund is actually delivered by the Football Foundation, the country’s largest sports charity. If you are up with that let us move onto some very impressive numbers. Since the 2000 launch 13,000 grants worth more than half a billion pounds have gone to improving grass roots sport. This has led to additional partnership funding of more £700m equating to £1.2bn plus of inward investment into grass roots.
After the ribbon cutting exercise at the state-of-the-art new pavilion Mr Dyke also toured two other locations that have received just over £1 million between them from the fund. The facilities showcased in Lowestoft are mirrored nationally through the FA’s partnerships with the Football Foundation and County Football Associations who do a fabulous but often forgotten job. Mr Dyke also took in an FA Skills coaching session at the refurbished Dip Farm Playing Fields. The FA Skills programme has a spine of 158 qualified coaches and has already offered 6 million places to 5-11 year olds across the country. It puts particular emphasis on fun and technique hoping to aid the development of transferable life-skills such as team building and social skills to breed confidence.
Mr Dyke said:
“I’m delighted that The FA has been able to play its part in making these tremendous new facilities at Dip Farm a reality and I commend all the partners that have come together to make this happen. Through the Football Foundation, The FA has helped to develop 1,700 sites like this across the country demonstrating our commitment to securing the foundations of grassroots football.
“And it is great to see an FA Skills session taking place because encouraging participation from an early age and providing adequate facilities, as demonstrated here at Dip Farm, are the heartbeat of the National Game.”
Terry Butcher and Chris Sutton, two former players with strong connections to Lowestoft – albeit with allegiances from opposites sides of the East Anglian footballing divide – were also on hand to take the tour and were impressed by the facilities
Former England captain Terry Butcher said:
“Lowestoft is smack bang in the middle of a very fierce footballing rivalry with Norwich one way and Ipswich the other – but it is also a strong footballing town in its own right.
“I was raised in Lowestoft and remember kicking a ball around as a youngster and this tour brings back lots of great memories from the place where I got my first real taste of football. It’s wonderful to see the work that The FA is doing to boost football in the area through the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund.”
Chris Sutton had this to say:
“Good coaching from an early age is key, not only to raising the standards of football played at the higher levels, but also for building enthusiasm and love of the game at grassroots. What is great about the work in Lowestoft is that we are witnessing how better coaching, participation and facilities, feed into one and other and strengthen the National Game as a whole.”