Former Norwich City star opens new pitch at city school

Iwan Roberts cuts the ribbon to open the 3G pitch at the FDC at Open Academy. With him are Michael B

Iwan Roberts cuts the ribbon to open the 3G pitch at the FDC at Open Academy. With him are Michael Banham, left, chairman of the Norfolk FA, and Jon Platten, principal. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

Norwich City legend Iwan Roberts told of his hope that a new all-weather football pitch could help develop England stars of the future.

Iwan Roberts on the new 3G pitch at the FDC at Open Academy he officially opened with some of the st

Iwan Roberts on the new 3G pitch at the FDC at Open Academy he officially opened with some of the students. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

He was speaking as he officially opened the floodlit, third generation artificial grass pitch at the Open Academy, in Heartsease.

The centre, known as the FDC @ Open Academy, will be open to the Norwich community as well as the school and was funded in part by grants from the Premier League and the Football Association Facilities Fund.

'It's a big thing and they've spent a lot of time and money on developing this,' said Mr Roberts. 'When you look at England's performance in the last two tournaments it's been disappointing and I think that's because not so many youngsters have been playing.

'The standard of pitches they play on isn't what it should be.

'When you've got a 3G pitch like this it doesn't matter what the weather is. It's magnificent. It's a lot of money, but we could do with more of them.

'A lot of boys and girls want to play football – they just need somewhere to go. This facility will give them a chance to do that.

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'Unless we get more funding into grassroots football we're never going to catch up with the rest of the world.'

As well as the pitches there is a changing-room block

Jon Platten, principal of Open Academy, said the pitches were 'fantastic'.

'This resource is an amazing facility,' he added. 'It's been a real motivator in getting young people involved with sport.'

The project was made possible thanks to a £498,789 grant from the Premier League and the FA Facilities Fund.

Since 2000 the Football Foundation Funding Partners' investment has provided 174 grants worth £7.2m towards grassroots sports projects worth over £16m across the whole of Norfolk.

Since it was launched in 2000, the Foundation has awarded around 14,000 grants worth more than £560m towards improving grassroots sport.

Do you have a Norwich story? Email newsdesk@archant.co.uk

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