Aylsham football and sports £1m project kicks off

Just Regional
Mar 31, 2014 5 mins read

The first turf has been cut in a million-pound project to create a purpose-built community ‘sports for all’ facility in Aylsham.  Ground work contractors have moved into start the long-planned development on the edge of town.

The facility will provide a home to hundreds of sports users at men’s, women’s and youth levels. It will also provide completely new opportunities for training, professional sports development and special events across the sporting spectrum.  And although football will be a major player at the facility, the team behind the plan wants to encourage a host of different sports users to use the building, including cricket, martial arts, table tennis, Pilates and indoor mat bowls among others.  There will also be an opportunity for families and businesses to hire the large community room with bar and kitchen facilities.

The 10-pitch sports ground off Cawston Road will feature four changing rooms, a bar and function room, floodlights and a car park. It will become the new home of Aylsham Football Club’s current 15 teams – although once built there are ambitions to expand to 22 teams.  The plan builds on the football club’s hard-won ‘community charter club’ status and cements their place at the heart of the community.  “We have everything in place now to create a centre of football excellence for the community, that the town can be proud,” said Ian Potter, chairman of Aylsham Football Club.  “This has been a community-driven and demand-driven project following the creation of our facility vision back in 2008. There are not enough pitches and facilities available at present to meet the needs of the community.

“This project will change that and create sporting, social and professional opportunities for a wide range of ages, skills and interests on one dedicated site.  “We also want to ensure maximum use of the facility for the wider community, not just the football community.”

Mr Potter said the facility would serve a number of groups, but that it was particularly exciting to give chances to young people who perhaps were not going to make it at the top level of football as players, but could forge careers within the sport such as coaches, referees or in other roles.  Mr Potter paid tribute to the Norfolk FA for their help, guidance and assistance throughout the process: “We simply could not have done it without the Norfolk FA, they have been fantastic.”  He actively encouraged other user groups to get in touch and discuss options. There was also a need to find around £50,000 to £60,000 to provide the finishing touches to the project, either through further grant funding, local fundraising or sponsorship.   Anyone able to offer fundraising support can contact Mr Potter on 07767 291031.

Gavin Lemmon, county development manager at Norfolk FA, said: “We’re delighted that work is now starting on this impressive new facility, after an excellent collective effort in fundraising and planning over the last six years.  “The FA Charter Standard programme celebrates local football leagues and clubs that aspire to improve and develop. As a Community Club, Aylsham FC has already reached the pinnacle of this kite mark programme. However, this new facility will allow the club to further increase the ways in which it serves and interacts with local people through the medium of football.  “We look forward to continuing our work with Aylsham FC in the future, broadening the ways that people in Norfolk can get involved in the game.”

Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said: “I am delighted that a Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund grant of £385,728 will enable this fantastic sports facility to be built. In partnership with the Norfolk FA, the Youngs Community Sports Trust and Aylsham FC worked extremely hard to secure this funding. The Premier League & The FA Facilities fund, which is delivered by the Football Foundation, is all about improving the experience of playing the national game at the lowest levels and helping to increase participation in football. Our funding partners, the Premier League, The FA and the Government, via Sport England, have generously provided the investment to improve facilities throughout the country since the Foundation’s inception in 2000.”

The trust which has been formed to oversee the project has been named the Youngs Community Sports Trust to reflect the surname of the landowners who have gifted the land.

The Youngs family, who farm in the area and are well known for brothers Tom and Ben, who have both played rugby for England and the British and Irish Lions, have given the land plus £500,000 as part of a 250-home development agreement.  Broadland councillors voted unanimously in favour of planning permission for the development in 2012.

The project has been paid for by a range of funders. These include Sport England (£50,000), The Football Stadia Improvement Fund (£50,000) and Broadland District Council (£5,000).  Aylsham Football Club has also raised more than £20,000 through local fundraising and has a significant number of other events planned, with the hope of trebling this over the next 12 months.

It is hoped that the first football will be kicked on the site in May 2015 which would be Aylsham Football Club’s annual summer youth tournament, which attracts over 3,500 people to the town.

For more information visit http://www.youngscommunitysportstrust.org/


Checking over the plans.  Left to right: Nick Youngs, William Youngs, Steve French and Ian Potter

Checking over the plans.
Left to right: Nick Youngs, William Youngs, Steve French and Ian Potter



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