A programme of improvements to football pitches across Brighton & Hove is moving a step closer.
The Premier League, The FA and Government’s Football Foundation has announced that Brighton & Hove City Council is among a number of local authorities to benefit from its new grass pitch pilot programme.
This exciting pilot initiative aims to support the improvement of grass pitches in Brighton & Hove over the next 10 years.
10 year improvement programme
The Football Foundation is the UK’s largest sports charity and exists to improve the experience of playing football for everyone, by championing fair access to quality facilities.
Brighton & Hove City Council was selected following a successful ‘Expression of Interest’ process, in partnership with Sussex FA, which included a detailed condition survey of local pitches. The bid also included feedback, following a consultation with local clubs last November, involving around 3,500 players.
The Football Foundation will work with the council and other local partners to devise a delivery plan and explore funding opportunities to improve well-used pitches across the city.
The news is particularly welcome in the year that Brighton & Hove is one of the host cities for the UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 tournament.
The tournament is already creating a huge demand for football in the city and, through the legacy programme, hundreds of opportunities are being created to increase participation.
Fastest growing sport
Following the success of the England national team, women’s football is one of the fastest growing sports in the country.
In the Brighton & Hove area, the number of clubs with female teams has increased from 10 to 14 in the last three years, with the number of female teams almost doubling from 19 to 39 over the same period.
It is expected that these numbers will continue to increase with the Lionesses playing in Brighton & Hove this summer.
Work is currently underway to prioritise the list of sites for improvement using information from the Local Football Facility Plan (LFFP).
These plans have been created for every area in England and are the culmination of two years of work with local authorities, county FAs and other stakeholders to identify projects that together represent a blueprint for building what each community needs and deserves.
Sussex FA will ensure that specialist machinery is made available for the council to carry out the improvement works.
Councillor Steve Davis, co-chair of the environment, transport and sustainability committee said: “It’s great news that Brighton & Hove is among the local authorities which will benefit from support to improve football pitches and I’d like to congratulate our officers and Sussex FA for a successful Expression of Interest process.
“In this hugely important year for women’s football, it’s great that we are able to kickstart a programme of improvement that will not only provide good quality playing surfaces across the city, but also encourage many more people to get involved with the game as players, match officials or spectators.”
Paul Saunders, project manager for Sussex FA added: “It is fantastic that Brighton & Hove City Council has been selected for the programme.
"We now look forward working with Brighton & Hove City Council, the Football Foundation and the Grounds Management Association, to properly assess the condition of the grass pitches, so that steps can be taken to improve and maintain their quality for the benefit of local players.”
Having launched its ‘Power Up Your Grass Pitch’ campaign in November last year, the Football Foundation is on a mission to improve over 7,000 grass pitches by 2024 and 20,000 by 2030, to ensure the 12 million grassroots football players across the country have great places to play.
To help make this ambition a reality, the Football Foundation has developed ‘PitchPower’ - a free ground-breaking web app that gives every club and organisation the ability to carry out their own grass pitch inspection.
Once submitted, organisations will receive an assessment report with bespoke recommendations and advice from the experts at the Grounds Management Association (GMA) on how to improve their pitches.
This report also serves as a gateway to access Football Foundation funding to support pitch improvements.