Darren Huckerby opens 3G pitch in Long Stratton
- Credit: Nick Butcher
There have been celebrations in a Norfolk village after its £440,000 new football pitch was officially opened by a Norwich City legend.
Darren Huckerby performed the honours at Long Stratton's new 3G pitch this afternoon as dignitaries and delighted high school pupils looked on.
The £440,000 investment was funded by South Norfolk Council, Long Stratton High School, Long Stratton Football Club, the Premier League and the FA Facilities Fund.
During the day the pitch, the second biggest of its kind in Norfolk, is used by pupils from the high school and from the afternoons and weekends can be booked.
So far it has been booked 30 times and is proving a hit with players taking part in nine-a-side and five-a-side games at the site by the village's leisure centre.
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Long Stratton Football Club also plans to create nine new sides to reap the benefits of a five year football development plan by South Norfolk Council, the Football Foundation and Norfolk FA for the pitch.
Mr Huckerby, who is an under-16s coach at Norwich City and played for the team 203 times netting 48 goals between 2003 and 2008, said: 'What a brilliant new pitch this is.
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'My playing days and subsequent role as a coach has made me appreciate just how important these types of facilities are, with youngsters needing to get out there and enjoy their football on top quality playing surfaces.'
Dr Roger Harris, headteacher at the high school, said: 'We are pleased to be a part of this project resulting in a fantastic 3G pitch on the school site.
'We are delighted that this project can benefit the whole of the community in addition to our students. Our thanks go to all involved in the project.'
The pitch is part of a £2.5m sports hub plan for Long Stratton, which includes a new pavilion at Manor Road Playing Fields, sports facilities at the high school and the redevelopment of the leisure centre.
Clayton Hudson, the district council's cabinet member for stronger communities and leisure, said: 'This is a fantastic example of partners working together to provide the sporting facilities and opportunities that our residents have been asking for.'