New school pitch in Faversham to provide sporting legacy for all
JUST days after the opening ceremony, the Olympic legacy is already making an impact in Faversham, according to Olympics Minister Hugh Robertson.
As crowds began to gather to watch the Torch's journey through the town last month, the Faversham and Mid-Kent MP was at the Abbey School to officially open a new sporting facility.
The third-generation (3G) artificial grass football pitch cost £650,000 to build and will be available for community use, as well as the school's own football academy.
While grass pitches allow an average of four hours playing time a week, the Football Foundation says Faversham's 3G surface could be used for 90 hours, with an estimated 2,200 players using it each week.
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Mr Robertson said: "It is fabulously exciting to have this link between the opening of the 3G pitch and the arrival of the Torch.
"To boost sports at a grassroots level you need good facilities, high quality coaching and enthusiastic volunteers. Now Faversham has all of those things and the huge amount of enthusiasm will sustain this.
"I have loved sports all my life and know what it is does for people and how important it is. As a result of this an awful lot more sport and sporting opportunities will be available to the people in this town."
The pitch was funded with a £390,000 grant from the Football Foundation, and money from Swale charities Bensted and Queenborough Fisheries Trust.
It will be available for community use from 4.30pm every evening and all day each weekend.
Head teacher Catrin Woodend hailed it as a "sporting legacy for the whole community".
She said: "We have worked for three years to make this dream a reality. We are practically fully booked with teams including Faversham Town, Dover Athletic, Strike Force, Faversham Town Juniors and five and seven-a-side leagues."
Staff are hoping the surface will enable more sporting successes, after two students at the school's Football Academy – 18-year-olds Tom Axford and Lloyd Harrington – were selected for the England Schoolboy Internationals side last year.
Lloyd said: "We are excited about the new pitch because it will give us an opportunity to play all through the season and is nice and flat so we won't have to worry about bobbles anymore."
Meanwhile Sky Sports presenter, Georgie Bingham, an ambassador for the Football Foundation, predicted that the pitch could help to produce the next big sporting star.
She said: "I hope the next Kelly Smith, Wayne Rooney or David Beckham will benefit from these facilities in Faversham."