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Bli-Mee! Burnley FC star opens new football hub at Lancashire school

Burnley FC defender Ben Mee was recently on hand to unveil a stunning all-weather pitch at Saints John Fisher and Thomas More Roman Catholic High School in Pendle, Lancashire. 

The new community sports hub, funded by a £538,160 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund and a £100,000 grant from the Lancashire County Council, will create 22 new football teams in the local area. This is set to facilitate a 89% rise in local football participation for the 14-25 age group, something which impressed the Burnley man: 


"This is a fantastic new facility for Lancashire. You could see straight away the benefit that the pitch is going to have – loads of youngsters just enjoying playing football with their mates."

Mee, who has been an integral part of Burnley's strong start to the season, took the time to sign autographs and take photos with many of the lucky students. He was excited by what the pitch would mean for the development of local youngsters: "I remember when I was that age and it’s an important time to practice your skills. That is made a lot easier if you have a quality facility on your doorstep, not a muddy field that gets waterlogged or isn’t floodlit through the winter."

The defender's visit marked only the start of Burnley's involvement at the site, as the club's Clarets Foundation will run a selection of programmes on the new pitch. Girls' sessions will be held by Burnley coaches on a weekly basis – reflecting the club's commitment to improve the provision of the female game locally – alongside regular sessions for young players as part of the Premier League Kicks initiative.   

To see all the photos from the day, check out our Flickr album here
1,570 new grassroots football teams and 3,405 newly-trained coaches have been created thanks to a £2.36m investment from Grow the Game – an FA and Football Foundation initiative designed to increase participation amongst underrepresented groups.
 
Grow the Game is designed to increase participation at the lowest levels of the game with grants of £1,500 available for each new team that a club creates. The funding can help a burgeoning club pay for the fundamentals, including: FA coaching courses; FA league affiliation costs; referees’ fees; first aid kits; and even football kit & equipment.
 
The FA’s £2.36m was awarded to 728 clubs by the Football Foundation, which delivers the Grow the Game scheme on behalf of the national governing body for football. An unprecedented number of applications from grassroots clubs applying for Grow the Game grants saw The FA increase their original £1.5m commitment by an additional £860,000 in order to meet the demand.

As a result, this year’s Grow the Game scheme is projected to create:
  • 642 male teams
  • 703 female teams
  • 43 mixed teams
  • 182 disability teams
Players-wise, this can be broken down to:
  • 11,881 male players
  • 8,561 female players
  • 1,504 male disabled players   
  • 567 female disabled players 
Kelly Simmons MBE, The FA’s Director of Participation and Development, said: “Grow the Game not only allows us to focus on helping those underrepresented groups within the grassroots game, but also unearth brand new groups who want to kick a ball and increase participation levels as a result.
 
“The proposition of 1,570 new teams and 3,405 new coaches across the country is extremely encouraging and it is hoped that this investment will lead to greater and more flexible playing opportunities For All.”
The Premier League Fans Fund is a commitment from the Premier League to fund projects and organisations which improve the relationship between fans and their clubs, the way football supporters engage with each other and fans’ experience of the game. With the support of the Fund, Football Unites Racism Divides (FURD) and Sheffield United FC used a common love of football to offer hope to some of the city’s refugee population.

FURD is a community engagement organisation that uses football as a tool to challenge prejudice and provide opportunities for minority groups. With Premier League support, the organisation has helped over 40 refugees and asylum seekers attend Sheffield United matches since the beginning of the 2016/17 season, allowing many of them to better socially integrate with the local community and use football as a means of forgetting about the stresses of their everyday lives. 

“When Sheffield United are winning I am very happy but when they lose, I don’t like it. The good thing about going to a match is that it helps me forget all about my stress,” explained Kam, an asylum seeker who fled his home in Chad two years ago.

Thanks to the FURD project, refugees like Kam have been able to build friendships and share their love of football with local Sheffield United fans, creating a sense of belonging in their often-isolated situations. 

Jad, a Syrian refugee, explained how the project helped to conjure memories of home, and expressed his new-found affinity for the Blades: “It brings back memories of going to watch matches in my home country, and now that I live in Sheffield, I have to be loyal to the city and support this club.”  

The end of the 2016/17 season saw the group celebrate United’s record-breaking promotion to The Championship, and it is hoped that they will continue to follow the club for years to come. 
Grassroots football plays a hugely important part in the lives of more than 12 million players, coaches, referees, supporters and volunteers in England. The FA is once again giving all those involved in the nation’s favourite sport the opportunity to have their say on the future of their beloved game. 

The FA’s Grassroots Football Survey, now in its third year, offers a comprehensive insight into how the beautiful game is thought of in England. It also provides The FA and County FAs greater understanding of how they can prioritise their annual investment of £50m into grassroots football by asking individuals about topics ranging from the pitch availability and quality, to views on the standard of football played by children.

The 2017 Grassroots Football Survey is now open, and will close on Monday 30 October. To submit your views, visit TheFA.com/HaveYourSay.
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Saturday 7 October 2017 marked the seventh annual Non-League Day in England. The event celebrates football beneath the top five tiers of the English football pyramid and encourages fans to visit semi-professional and amateur clubs in their local area.

The Premier League this year again demonstrated their commitment to the non-league game through The Football Stadia Improvement Fund (FSIF). Fully funded by the Premier League, the FSIF is the country’s largest provider of grants towards projects that help improve the comfort and safety of lower league football grounds in both the professional and amateur game. 

In the past 12 months, more than 100 non-league clubs have benefited from FSIF funds, including Rusthall FC (click headline image for video), Ampthill Town FC and Felixstowe & Walton FC. To see more about the three projects, as well as some exclusive features with players who have gone from non-league to the very top of the English game, visit the Premier League website.
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At the recent opening of our new all-weather pitch at Newman University, we chatted to former Aston Villa FC and England striker Darius Vassell about his club and international career:

Q: What are your memories of making your debut for Aston Villa FC?
A: You never forget your debut! It was Middlesbrough at home and we were winning 3-1 and John Gregory brought me on. I was petrified! But it was great to get a run out for 10 minutes or so. 
 
Q: How did it feel to get called up into the England squad?
A: I had been playing with the Under-21’s when the phone call came. The call up to the senior side came out of the blue, so much so that I didn’t even have a suit! Luckily, I went on to become a permanent fixture in that team for two or three years.
 
Q: Who is the best player you have played with?
A: To pick just one player that I’ve played with would be doing many an injustice, but I would have to say Paul Scholes. We played together at England level, and for a striker to play with a midfielder with such quality was magnificent.
 
Q: Similarly, who is the best player you have played against?
A: At international level, I have to say Ronaldinho. To see him in person, doing the things that he is capable of was brilliant. I think he’s a big reason that a lot of the elite players nowadays play the way that they do. 
 
Q: Do you have a favourite goal from your career?
A: It would have to be my debut goal for England. It was a game away in Holland, and as the cross came in, I just tried to finish it acrobatically and it came off! I never expected to play at international level, so to score in my first match, and in that manner, was a great feeling. It’s something that I will never forget.
With London 2012 star Luke Campbell featuring in this month's Out On The Ground feature, we take a look back at five more of our openings with medallists from the Olympic and Paralympic games.
Earlier this year, hurdling hero Colin Jackson was on hand to help us open the Scarborough Sports Village. The silver medallist from Seoul 1988, who now presents the BBC's coverage of athletics was joined on the day by Robert Goodwill, MP for Scarborough and Whitby.
Another Olympian turned TV presenter is Jonathan Edwards. The players at Long Lane JFC were hop, skipping and jumping for joy as as the triple-jump world record holder opened their new community sports facility back in 2011, alongside former Foundation Trustee Phil Smith.
You can't talk about the Olympics without mentioning Sir Steve Redgrave. He was on hand in September of last year to open Lea Rowing Club's Boathouse. The five-time gold medallist opened the Mayor of London-funded project, delivered by the Foundation.
Next is three-time Paralympic medallist Dan West. The T-34 shot-putter, who won medals at the 1996, 2000 and 2004 Paralympics, helped us to open a new changing pavilion in his local area, unveiling Cottenham Parish Council upgraded facility.
Lastly, it's Paracanoeist Ian Marsden, who won a bronze medal in the Para-Canoe at Rio 2016. Ian was on hand in October of last year to open the newly refurbished all-weather pitch at Evans Park, home to Stafford Borough Council and Stafford Town FC. 
Birmingham City Council were able to refurbish their sports pavilion thanks to a £305,600 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, delivered by the Football Foundation. The renovation of the outdated facility created four separate changing rooms, allowing segregated changing for the first time. The pavilion was given a modern interior, as well as an upgrade to the heating and electrical systems. The new-look facility, which also included newly refurbished grass football pitches, was re-opened back in September of 2013 by Foundation Ambassador Dion Dublin.
Here are some jobs currently open for applications within the world of sport:
Communications Intern Officer – Football Foundation
Grant Panel Member – Football Foundation 

Anti-Doping Whereabouts Administrator – The FA 
General Manager – Premier League Charitable Fund
Insights Data Support Worker – Manchester City in the Community
 
Academy Player Liaison and Welfare Officer – Arsenal FC
  • This Marseille fan took full advantage of his moment in the spotlight with this great run and finish. Something we would all love to do!
     
  • After another of his recent goals, Cristiano Ronaldo wasn't the only one celebrating, with this young girl nailing his well-known pose in the stands.
     
  • These fans in Argentina didn't take too well to a drone interrupting kick-off. We make that toilet paper one, drone nil. 
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Top Corner e-newsletter - October 2017
 
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