Former Lioness Jill Scott has opened the first of 23 new grassroots football facilities named after the Euro 2022 winning squad.
The pitches, being built in or around the hometowns of the winning players are funded by the government, the FA and the Premier League’s Football Foundation. It will inspire the next generation of female stars with top class facilities.
The ‘Jill Scott Pitch’ was unveiled in a ceremony at the Perth Green Community Centre in Jarrow alongside coaches and members of the local community who will benefit from the 3G pitch. The new floodlit facility is just five miles from Jill’s hometown of Sunderland and will support the growth of female, disability and recreational football in the local area.
Following the Lionesses victory last year – the first English football team to win a major trophy since 1966 – the government, Premier League and the Football Association’s Football Foundation committed to naming grassroots facilities in honour of the squad.
The site namings form part of national efforts to raise the profile of women’s football at the elite level and increase access and participation for women and girls at the grassroots level.
This site is one of many across the UK to have benefited from the government’s UK-wide £300 million four-year capital investment into grassroots multi-sports facilities.
The Football Foundation is delivering outstanding grassroots facilities, more and better places to play, and transforming lives and communities where it is needed most.
Fifty per cent of the investment is going directly to the most deprived areas across the UK and the benefits will be felt beyond football: by 2025, 40 per cent of Football Foundation investment will go to projects which host at least one additional sport such as rugby, cricket, netball and basketball.
Jill Scott, MBE said:
“It’s an absolute honour to have a site that will be used by so many people in the local community named after me in the place I used to play!
“Winning the Women’s EUROS was incredibly special and I hope, thanks to this recognition and funding from The Premier League, The FA and government’s Football Foundation, this pitch will benefit Lionesses of the future.“
Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said:
“I’m delighted we are honouring Jill and the entire 23 woman squad as part of our £300 million investment in grassroots multi-sport pitches.
“The Lionesses thrilled the nation with their historic Euros victory, delivering the nation’s first major tournament win in more than 50 years.
“They have inspired a generation of women and girls to believe they too can achieve their dreams.”
The FA’s Director of Women’s Football, Sue Campbell, said:
“The England women’s team changed the landscape for the women’s and girls’ game when they lifted the UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 trophy last year. The success of the team wasn’t just about lifting the trophy, it was also about changing the path for women and girls who want to or currently play football up and down the country.
“By 2024 The FA want to see 5,000 good-quality pitches added to the current number. With the Football Foundation, we are prioritising the areas and communities where these new pitches are most needed. This project allows us to provide more opportunities for people to play football across the region. Jill Scott has had an incredible career and no doubt inspired many people in her hometown to take up the game, so I’m sure the ‘Jill Scott pitch’ will be extremely popular.”
To ensure women and girls can benefit from these facilities, and help create a lasting legacy, all sites in the multisport grassroots programme must provide access based on the needs of the local women’s and girls’ teams. The move is also designed to support the Football Association’s ambition for the UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 to create 500,000 extra opportunities for women and girls to play football.
The government’s grassroots multi-sport pitches programme has successfully delivered more than £43 million of funding across the UK last year, with an additional £168 million to be invested into facilities in England between 2022 and 2025 – on top of an existing and continuing £18m annual commitment.
The government says it is a major supporter of women’s football and is working to improve access and build on its commercial success for the long term.
It is working alongside The FA to achieve the ambition of equal access to football for girls in 90 per cent of schools by 2024.
The Department for Education’s £320 million PE and School Sports Premium School Sport and Activity Action Plan will help more girls to take part in sport and physical activity.
Photo credit: Department for Culture, Media and Sport / UK Gov