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Football Foundation helped grassroots facilities to £47m facelift in 2015

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grassroots FAcilities have benefited from £47m (US$67m, €61.8m) worth of grants in 2015 according to the Football Foundation’s annual report.

The body, which was set up to distribute funds donated by the government, Football Association (FA) and Premier League, ploughed £18m (US$25.7m, €23.7m) into the development of facilities in the form of 712 grants, with the money leveraging a further £29m (US$41.3m, €38.1m) in partnership funding.

The money contributed to 44 third generation (3G) artificial playing surfaces, 49 changing pavilions, 46 properly-drained natural grass pitches and smaller infrastructure projects.

Participation at the improved sites increased as a result, said the Football Foundation, pointing to “an average increase of 7 per cent” across all Foundation-funded facilities year-on-year.

“We also achieved an average increase in general sports participation (e.g. cricket, rugby, netball etc) of 8 per cent at those same sites,” said Football Foundation chief executive Paul Thorogood.

According to the statistics within the report, the increase contributed to almost 30 million hours of sporting activity being delivered at Foundation sites, with 111,561 new players registered in 2015. 811,767 people played regularly at Foundation-developed facilities, with a further 810,711 taking part in one-off events.

Additionally, the report revealed that at least 40 per cent of the investment earmarked for 2013-16 was, or had been, invested into the 20 per cent most deprived areas of the country.

The FA’s Growing the Game initiative added £1.85m (US$2.6m, €2.4m) towards 656 grants specifically designated for encouraging female, disability and over-14 male football teams. Over 2015 17,957 players were recruited – 6,504 of which were female – to play in 1,239 newly-established teams. It also helped towards 6,332 coaching qualifications gained, while the number of disabled people playing hit the 1,309 mark.

Sports minister Tracey Crouch said the Foundation made a “real difference in encouraging participation in sport across the country”, adding: “Every penny we invest through the Foundation goes directly into state-of-the-art facilities that help our grassroots to flourish and brings people in the wider community together through sport.”

FA chief executive Martin Glenn added: “Fundamentally, if we have a strong grassroots game, the performance of England’s elite team, and everything in between, will be stronger as a result, and the Foundation is helping us achieve that."

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Grassroots facilities have benefited from £47m (US$67m, €61.8m) worth of grants in 2015 according to the Football Foundation’s annual report.
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