Sporting stars open major new sports site in Aylsham

Just Regional
May 2, 2016 5 mins read

Former Norwich City manager, Nigel Worthington, current captain, Russell Martin and England rugby stars, Ben and Tom Youngs, were in Aylsham yesterday (Sunday 1 May), to officially open the new Youngs Park sports facility.

The project was made possible thanks to a £385,728 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which is delivered by the Football Foundation.

The grant has given a focus to sport in and around Aylsham, including around 20 Aylsham Football Club teams. Having been spread around various sites for many years, those teams can now play in the same place with state-of-the-art facilities, which includes three full-size real grass pitches, two youth real grass pitches, four mini soccer real grass pitches, a training area and one 9v9 grass pitch.

The new changing pavilion comprises four changing rooms, two officials’ changing rooms, clubroom with bar, kitchen, toilet facilities and storage space. The development also includes external works to the 120-space car park.

All four individuals have strong links with sport in Aylsham and Norfolk. Nigel and Russell have obviously given a number of years’ service to the Canaries. For the Youngs brothers it was a particularly personal event as the land on which the sporting development has been created was once part of their family farm – hence the name Youngs Park.

The Youngs Community Sports Trust and Aylsham FC worked in partnership with Norfolk FA to secure the grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund. The project also received £50,000 from the Premier League, through the Football Stadia Improvement Fund (FSIF) and £50,000 from Sport England’s Protected Playing Fields.

Additional funding came from Aylsham FC and Broadland District Council. The Youngs family, which includes England rugby scrum half, Ben, and hooker, Tom, plus their father and former England scrum half, Nick, gifted the land plus £500,000 as part of a wider housing development agreement.

The Football Foundation worked in partnership with Aylsham FC, The Youngs Community Sports Trust and Norfolk FA to compile a five-year Football Development Plan. This foresees growth in the levels of participation on site as a result of the funding.

Aylsham FC currently has 14 teams and, with the aid of the new facilities, expect to increase to 28 within the life of the plan.

The project fits in with a number of local, regional and national strategies and is fully supported by the Norfolk County FA.

The Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund 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 14,000 grants worth more than £560m towards improving grassroots sport, which it has used to attract additional partnership funding of more than £780m – over £1.3bn of investment into the grassroots game.

Since 2000 the Football Foundation Funding Partners’ investment has provided 175 grants worth £7m towards grassroots sports projects worth over £15.7m across the whole of Norfolk.

Norwich City captain and Scottish international defender, Russell Martin, said: “I’m delighted to support the event at Aylsham, which will help provide some great new sporting facilities for the local community in this part of Norfolk. It will provide facilities for local football teams in this area and it’s always good to see grassroots football being supported.”

Nigel Worthington said: “I was delighted to join Russell Martin and Tom and Ben Youngs to officially open the fantastic new sports facility at Youngs Park.

“I am so impressed with the quality of the development, which includes a number of real grass pitches and state-of-the-art changing room facilities which can be used by club members and supporters.

“The improvements are a great example of the commitment the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund has to making these sorts of projects a reality. Without their investment, we would not see the likes of Russell, Ben or Tom coming up through the ranks – it must and always will start at the grassroots.

“I was pleased to see the site full of members of the local community, and look forward to seeing Youngs Park go from strength to strength.”

Tom Youngs said: “Ben and I are delighted to be involved in the official opening of the amazing sporting facility which carries the family name. We’ve seen the facility full of people enjoying themselves and we know this site will make a positive difference to thousands of people of all ages in the coming years.”

Chairman of Aylsham Football Club, Ian Potter, said: “This new facility has been created with football at its core and will inspire the next generation.  I must acknowledge the fantastic support of the Norfolk FA and the time and effort put in by so many local people over the last eight years – it’s truly inspirational.

“If we harness the level of energy and commitment to get Youngs Park operating effectively as you see it today, the sky is the limit with what we can achieve together with the football club and the community motivated to make this a special place and create legacy for the town.”

Peter McCormick OBE, Football Foundation trustee and chairman of the Football Stadia Improvement Fund, said: “The works at Cawston Road will have a significant impact on local grassroots sport in Aylsham, and Aylsham FC and The Youngs Community Sports Trust now have an excellent football hub, which includes upgraded real grass pitches, a new clubhouse and changing pavilion and external improvement works. Without the funding from the Premier League, The FA Government and Sport England, projects like this would not be possible. It is important that money comes down from the elite through to the lower levels of the grassroots. I wish everyone involved at the club all the best for the future.”

Youngs Park Youngs Park

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