Construction work starts on all-weather football pitch at the Open Academy
- Credit: Archant
Work to create a flood-lit, all-weather pitch that aims to boost grassroots football in Norwich has kicked off.
The creation of the third generation artificial grass pitch, and changing rooms, at the Open Academy in Heartsease is largely thanks to a grant of almost £500,000 from the Premier League and Football Association Facilities Fund.
The football development centre, which will be known as the FDC @ Open Academy, is due to be completed in February 2016, although this will depend on weather over the winter.
Together with Wroxham Football Club, the school's football academy offers a Level 3 BTEC post-16 programme.
Football academy member Matthew Carey, 17, said: 'I think it will bring more opportunities to the course, and more people may want to come on the course.
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'It will increase the quality of the training and the facilities.
'It will be made easier. Sometimes, you can't play matches because of the weather, so we will be able to play more matches.
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'I think it's just a great thing to have nearby. For us to say 'it's ours' is quite good. I think it will give a boost to the school.'
FDC @ Open Academy will be used by the school during the day, and by the local community during the evenings and weekends.
Speaking at yesterday's official launch, Open Academy pupil Coren Norman, 14, said: 'For sport and PE, it will be easier for us to get out when it's bad weather, because the grass gets waterlogged a lot.
'After school, it will bring more people here from the community.'
The site will operate in partnership with Norfolk FA, and aims to provide an all-weather surface to meet the current demand for playing surfaces.
But it is also designed to meet the future demand, both in that part of the city, as well as the surrounding area.
It follows the opening of Norfolk County FA's football development centre in Bowthorpe in 2009, and represents the first step in increasing the number of football hubs around the county.
Shaun Turner, chief executive of Norfolk FA, said: 'The construction of the FDC @ Open Academy is a significant achievement for grassroots football and concludes months of hard work.
'The new facility will be a fantastic and much-needed addition to the existing local pitch stock, offering our clubs, leagues and the local and wider community a fantastic opportunity to access a state-of-the-art modern facility, whilst at the same time giving Norfolk County FA an opportunity to directly service the modern-day game in a new and varied way.'
Open Academy principal Jon Platten said: 'It's a fantastic facility. On the one hand, for our students it's a top-of-the-range football facility that you can rely on come rain, come shine; on the other side, it's about the Open Academy being at the heart of our community.
'We are very honoured to be working with the FA.
'They have been very good at taking the project forward in order to achieve what we both want to achieve, which is helping people in this part of the city to have first-class sporting facilities.
'We have had a lot of interest. People have been looking at it and asking about it, and people with connections with local football clubs are very keen to see when it's going to start, so they can start taking advantage of the facilities.'
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