Aylsham

Youngs Park to open doors to community

Just Regional
Nov 16, 2015 4 mins read

The first competitive football will be kicked on November 21 at Norfolk’s newest £2m-plus sports park, on the outskirts of Aylsham.

The best part of a decade in the making, Youngs Park has been named after the family of former landowners and two generations of England international rugby union players who live and farm near the town.

Several Aylsham Football Club teams will train and play at the Cawston Road facility on Saturday, including youth sides, the men’s 1st team and the reserves.

It will be the most memorable day in a dream that has taken thousands of voluntary hours to get off the ground.
A massive £385,728 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, delivered by the Football Foundation, was a cornerstone of the Cawston Road project thanks to a partnership approach between Aylsham Football Club (AFC) and Norfolk FA.

Additional funding came from Sport England, The Football Stadia Improvement Fund (which is funded by the Premier League), AFC and Broadland District Council.

The Youngs family, which includes current England rugby scrum half Ben and hooker Tom, plus their dad and former England scrum half Nick, gifted the land plus £500,000 as part of a wider housing development agreement.

The new facility has been created with football at it heart and other sport activities and leisure in mind.
It will be home to 24 AFC teams (expected to expand further), 10 football pitches, floodlights, a 120 space car park, what is being touted as the best function room in the area and, potentially, a range of local health and keep fit clubs.

The 250m2 function room and bar will be one of the major features on the site, which is being built alongside more than 200 new homes.

Aylsham Football Club chairman Ian Potter said: “The very first coaching sessions and series of matches planned over the weekend promise to be the most memorable moment in the clubs long history”.

“We want everyone associated with the club and community to celebrate with us and would encourage as many people as possible to attend from 10am.

“We are looking forward to showing off this wonderful facility and if we can get a huge attendance on November 21 that would be the icing on an impressive cake!

“The time and effort put in by so many people both over the years and in the run up to opening has been inspiring.
“If we harness the level of energy which has led to this stage, the sky is the limit with what we can achieve together.

“And with even more people around the club and the community motivated to help, this will be a most special place for all and create legacy for the town.”

There are plans for a grand opening in the spring, once all necessary finishing touches have been completed and the facility has been tested. Club and individual bookings will be taken in the new year.

William Youngs, uncle of Ben and Tom, and brother of Nick, has been closely involved with the project from start to finish.

He said: “This is one of the biggest and best football facility in East Anglia.

“Steven Pask did the pitches – he is one of the best in the country. After the archery at the Olympics at Lord’s, he was chosen to relay their outfield.

“I have had Nigel Worthington look at the pitch and he was amazed. He said if it has artificial grass, you would be looking at Premiership standard.

“Our family is very proud of what is being handed over to the community and the football club. It’s a real legacy to the town.”

In the future the club is hoping for bookings for 25th wedding anniversaries, 21st birthdays and other functions.
The not for profit organisation responsible for running the site will plough surplus back into the project to support further improvements and maintenance.

The club is still looking for potential sponsors to help with the finishing touches and Mr Potter would be delighted to speak to businesses and individuals willing to help this wholly community volunteer based venture.
This includes an immediate challenge of raising at least £5,000 to finish the kitchen, which will help create income to pay ongoing bills.

Contact Mick McCann on 07777 661117 if you wish to donate to the kitchen fund.

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