Ian Austin MP unveils new sports hub in Dudley that will boost participation rates

Ian Austin, MP for Dudley North, officially unveiled Dudley College's new sports hub on Friday 2 December 2016, thanks to a grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which is delivered by the Football Foundation.  Ex-professional Footballer and current Sky sports pundit Don Goodman was also on hand to show his support for the project.

Through this project, Dudley College have built a new floodlit third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch (AGP) that will be used all-year-round by the college's students and a number of local grassroots clubs, including Wrens Nest FC and Wordsley Wasps JFC.

The Albion Foundation - the charitable arm of West Bromwich Albion FC - will deliver a range of activities on the new all-weather pitch, including Premier League Kicks and a Player Development Centre. They will run engagement sessions for girls on-site, working alongside the college to establish further partnerships with its Regional Talent Camp.

As part of the works, the college have built a new changing room pavilion, comprising: two team changing rooms; two officials' changing rooms; a standing area and spectator toilets.

The broader development strategy of the project has also been considered, with Dudley College working in partnership with the Football Foundation and Birmingham FA to compile a five-year Football Development Plan (FDP) – a long-term vision of how sport will be played at the new facility.

The college's Sports Development Manager will help deliver the FDP objectives, with the site's partner clubs projected to increase their number of teams from four to 38, and Wordsley Wasps JFC looking to create a new girls Under-14 side.

The Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund provides grants towards developing new or refurbished grassroots football facilities. It is funded by the Premier League, The FA, and the Government, via Sport England. It is delivered by the Football Foundation, the country's largest sports charity. Since it was launched in 2000, the Foundation has awarded around 15,000 grants worth nearly £580m towards improving grassroots sport, which it has used to attract additional partnership funding of just under £800m – over £1.4bn of investment into the grassroots game.

Since 2000, the Football Foundation Funding Partners' investment has provided 422 grants worth nearly £26m towards grassroots sports projects worth over £61m across the whole of Birmingham.
By providing more high-quality facilities, coupled with coaching at the appropriate age group, the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund aims to improve the experience for regular players as well as attracting new players to the game. Many of the new state-of-the-art facilities will serve to strengthen the connection between professional football clubs and their local communities, particularly in the most deprived areas of the country, through the professional clubs' community trust'’ outreach work.

Ian Austin, MP for Dudley North, said: "I think I spent pretty much every Sunday afternoon as a teenager playing football with my mates on the Priory Road pitches and I wish we'd had fantastic facilities like these in those days! It's brilliant to hear that so many local people are already using the new pitch and changing rooms every day.

These new all-weather pitches help keep youngsters fit and healthy, off the streets and out of trouble so I want to thank Dudley College for their hard work and the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund for the financial support for this great addition to the town and the Dudley Learning Quarter. I hope it will encourage more people of all ages to put their boots on and get out here and enjoy the beautiful game."

Lowell Williams, Principal of Dudley College heralded the opening of the new ground as a fabulous addition to the college, commenting: "We now have facilities that are unsurpassed anywhere in the Black Country. We can provide all-year round playing and coaching for our competitive players, a recreational facility for our own learners and community members, as well as enhanced facilities for local schools who can use the grounds too."

Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said: "I am delighted that a grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund has enabled Dudley College to upgrade build a new 3G pitch and changing room pavilion. This development will provide a real boost to sport in the local area and a special thanks must go to Ian Austin MP for opening the new facility.

"Since 2000, the Football Foundation has supported grassroots projects worth more than £1.4bn, investing into areas where the need is greatest and where it will have the biggest impact in terms of getting more people playing football and a wide range of other sports. 

"With this funding, provided by the Premier League, The FA and the Government, through Sport England, we are helping to improve community sports facilities across the country and thereby the playing experience of those who take part. This latest project in Dudley is the latest addition to the inventory of modern community sports sites we are developing that cater for the needs of local people who want to play sport purely for the love of it and to stay healthy."

Don Goodman who played nearly 600 games during his twenty year career in the Football league, including many years playing in the West Midlands for local clubs West Bromwich Albion, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Walsall gave his backing to the project saying:
"It's great see such fantastic facilities being made available to the young people of Dudley.  I hope this new facility inspires them to keep playing throughout their lives.  Perhaps one day I'll be commentating on them as they run out on the pitch in the Premier League."

For queries surrounding the use of the new 3G pitch, please contact: Jerome Johns, Sports Development Manager of Dudley College at: