The Howard School's upgraded grass pitches with grant from the Premier League & FA Facilities Fund
Rehman Chishti, MP for Gillingham and Rainham, officially opened The Howard School’s upgraded grass pitches recently (Friday 8 December), thanks to a grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which is delivered by the Football Foundation. The MP was joined by Howard School student Louis Binks, who plays for Tottenham Hotspur FC’s Under-18 team and has represented England.
The grant enabled the school to improve its existing grass pitches, to ensure that they are taking full advantage of the area available. The school’s football facilities previously comprised: two 9v9 pitches; one 5v5 pitch and training grids. This is in addition to two Redgra areas, two gymnasiums and eight changing rooms for its students.
The pitch upgrade project included removing one Redgra area and replacing it with natural turf, to maximise the grass area, as well as remodelling the existing pitches. As a result, pupils and community groups now have access to one youth 11v11 pitch; two 9v9 pitches; one 7v7 pitch; one 5v5 pitch and training grids. This will benefit not only the school, but also Medway United FC and Kent League – both of which will take advantage of the improved facilities for fixtures.
The school worked alongside the Kent FA and the Football Foundation to compile a five-year Football Development Plan, which is a vision of how sport will be played on site with an emphasis on increasing participation.
Thanks to the upgrade project, it is expected that the number of teams using the facilities will rise from nine to 15. This will include two new Under-15 teams, one Under-16 side and one Under-18 side. As a result, a 184% increase in football participation in those between the ages of 14 and 25 is predicted.