UOG Unveil New All-Weather Pitch

The University and its students are delighted with their new all-weather pitch, part of a larger project that will also include a new changing pavilion.

The University of Gloucestershire officially opened their state-of-the-art all-weather pitch at their Oxstalls sports hub yesterday (Tuesday 5 December), thanks to a grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which is delivered by the Football Foundation. This is part of a larger project for the University, which includes the ongoing construction of a brand new changing pavilion.

The grant enabled the University to replace an existing sand-dressed artificial grass pitch (AGP) with a third generation (3G) AGP. The brand new all-weather playing surface can be used all-year-round, even during the winter months, allowing for more flexibility in scheduling training and fixtures.

This will benefit not only the University’s students, but also the 3G AGP’s other users. These include partner clubs Longlevens FC, Gala Wilton Youth FC and Churchdown Panthers FC. The pitch will also be a central venue for the Severn Valley Youth League and Gloucestershire County Girls League.

It is also expected that the all-weather pitch will be used by the Cheltenham Town Community Trust to deliver community outreach sessions. Additionally, the site will be a hub for the delivery of coach and referee education by the University and the Gloucestershire FA.

The University of Gloucestershire worked alongside the Gloucestershire FA and the Football Foundation to compile a five-year Football Development Plan, which is a vision of how sport will be played on site with an emphasis on increasing participation.

Across the three partner clubs, it is expected that 29 brand new teams will be introduced thanks to the flexibility provided by the new pitch, as well as the facilities provided by the new pavilion on its completion. This will take their combined total from 59 to 88, supporting an expected 63% rise in onsite football participation across all ages.

The new teams will be focused across the junior level, with increasing female football opportunities as a key objective. An increase in football participation for those under the age of 14 at the Oxstalls site of 77% is predicted as a result. Additionally, a 120% increase in female football participation is also predicted.

The 3G AGP will also help to provide further opportunities in disability football, with No Limits Football Club sessions being held there. It is hoped that Veterans’ and walking football provision will also be available at the new pitch.

The club worked in partnership with the Gloucestershire FA to secure a £500,000 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund. This has helped to fund both the pitch and the new changing pavilion.

Founded in 2000, the Football Foundation is the largest sports charity in the UK funded by the Premier League, The FA and Government, via Sport England. It develops new and refurbished grassroots sports facilities in order to improve the quality and experience of playing sport at the grassroots level. Since it was launched in 2000, the Foundation has awarded around 15,000 grants worth more than £580m towards improving grassroots sport, which it has used to attract additional partnership funding of over £800m – £1.4bn of investment into the grassroots game.

Since 2000, the Football Foundation Funding Partners’ investment has provided 245 grants worth £12.2m towards grassroots sports projects worth over £34.5m across the whole of Gloucestershire.

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 trusts’ outreach work.

Anita Navin, Head of the School of Sport and Exercise at the University of Gloucestershire, said: “We are thrilled to see the Oxstalls Sports Park emerge as an international standard facility which will offer additional opportunities for individuals to engage in a range of activities for health and wellbeing. Our ambition is to also attract major events which will begin with the Severn Stars Super League Netball Club playing their home games here in 2019.  Building our connections with the local communities, connecting with the hard to reach groups and adding vibrancy to the city are our prime targets.”

Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said: “The Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund provides the investment necessary to improve grassroots football facilities. So, I am delighted to see the University of Gloucestershire join thousands of local clubs and organisations who have reaped its benefit, in this case through the opening of their new 3G AGP. 

“Having delivered over £1.4bn of grassroots sports infrastructure projects, the Football Foundation has developed a network of accessible, first-class facilities in areas they will have the greatest impact – thanks to money from the Premier League, The FA and the Government via Sport England. 

“These facilities are more than places to play football at, these facilities are hubs of physical activity, the bedrock of local communities and ‘homes from home’ for so many who also use them as social outlets to learn new skills, gain work experience and other qualifications.”

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