Jack Dromey, MP for Erdington, officially opened Compass Support’s state-of-the-art new all-weather pitch in Birmingham recently (Friday 27 October), thanks to a grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which is delivered by the Football Foundation. Birmingham City Ladies FC players Emily Westwood and Emma Follis, who have both represented England, were also in attendance.
The grant has enabled Compass Support to upgrade the existing grass pitch at the Castle Vale Stadium, with a brand new third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch (AGP). The brand new playing surface will benefit a variety of users, including: partner clubs Castle Vale Town FC and Romulus FC; Castle Vale Concords FC; Castle Vale Olympic FC; Greenwood Academy and the Compass Youth Service.
The new facility, which is on the original site of the Castle Bromwich Aerodrome – a major World War I and II airfield – will be used by the Birmingham FA to deliver a number of coaching and referee training courses. Additionally, Aston Villa FC plan to deliver Premier League Kicks sessions and other community outreach programmes there.
Compass Support worked alongside the Birmingham 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.
Previously, partner club Castle Vale Town FC could only play their matches at the stadium. As a result of the brand new pitch, the club will be able to move all of their training to the facility which will allow them to offer their players safer and more effective training.
Thanks to this, a 105% boost in football participation across all ages is expected at the site. This is supported by the club’s plans to introduce 19 new teams, taking their total from 15 to 34 – including six brand new female sides.
A new youth disability football team will also be established, as well as a number of Under-18, Under-21 and senior sides. This is as part of the club’s efforts to strengthen player pathways through junior football and into the senior game.
Compass Support and Castle Vale Town FC worked in partnership with the Birmingham FA to secure a £687,100 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, delivered by the Football Foundation. Compass Support has also received two previous grants through the Foundation, totalling £19,875, towards upgrading the Castle Vale Stadium. In addition, the Pioneer Group and Castle Vale Endowment Trust Fund have contributed over £150,000 towards the upgrade.
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 388 grants worth over £21.4m towards grassroots sports projects worth £49.9m 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 trusts’ outreach work.