Royal Wootton Bassett Sports Association (RWBSA) celebrated the officially opening of Gerard Buxton Sports Hub recently (Saturday 5 September 2015). The new state-of-the-art community sports facility was made possible thanks to a £500,000 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which is delivered by the Football Foundation, and £100,000 from the Football Stadia Improvement Fund (FSIF).
The Gerard Buxton Sports Hub comprises a full-size third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch (AGP), a new changing room pavilion, four real grass football pitches, two cricket pitches and six floodlit tennis courts. The project has involved the relocation of RWBSA from their previous home at Rylands Way to the new purpose built facility just north of the town.
Royal Wootton Bassett Town FC, who currently run 23 senior, youth and womens’ teams, will use Gerard Buxton Sports Hub for both training and competitive matches. Previously, over 75% of the clubs teams were forced to play fixtures away from their home ground due to a lack of pitch capacity. The sport hub offers a range of new facilities which will also allow all of RWBSA’s cricket, tennis and running clubs to broaden opportunities for the local community to engage in sport on a regular basis.
RWBSA and Royal Wootton Bassett Town FC worked in partnership with the Wiltshire FA to secure funding from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund and the FSIF.
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 13,000 grants worth more than £530m towards improving grassroots sport, which it has used to attract additional partnership funding of over £740m – over £1.3bn of investment into the grassroots game.
Since 2000 the Football Foundation Funding Partners’ investment has provided 80 grants worth £5.3m towards grassroots sports projects worth over £28m across the whole of Wiltshire.
By providing more high-quality facilities, coupled with coaching at the appropriate age group, the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund aims to improve the experience for regular players as well as attracting new players to the game. Many of the new state-of-the-art facilities will serve to strengthen the connection between professional football clubs and their local communities, particularly in the most deprived areas of the country, through the professional clubs’ community trusts’ outreach work.
Funded with £5.2m each year from the Premier League, the FSIF is the country’s largest provider of grants towards projects that help improve the comfort and safety of lower league football grounds in both the professional and amateur game. These improvements range from new football stands and turnstiles to floodlighting and improved provision for disabled supporters.
Sport England has also contributed a further £400,000 towards the project through their Improvement Fund, Inspired Facilities Fund and Protecting Playing Fields Fund.
Andy Walduck, Chairman, Royal Wootton Bassett Town FC, said: “Relocation to this fantastic new facility is the culmination of many years work by the football club and wider RWBs, and will provide the football club with a quality stadium pitch and youth pitches to support our Community club. The AGP will offer terrific training and match facilities for not only our club, but the wider football community, and the further sports facilities on offer mean we can work together with fellow sports clubs in the Association in delivering unrivalled sporting participation for so many in our community and continue to grow grassroots sport. We are indebted to the many funders who helped make this possible, but in particular the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund and FSIF.”
Peter McCormick OBE, Chairman of the Football Stadia Improvement Fund, said: “I am incredibly pleased that the Gerard Buxton Sports Hub is now fully operational. Funding from the FSIF will enable Royal Wootton Bassett Town FC to enjoy a sustainable future and expand opportunities for youth and womens’ football. The Premier League remains committed to supporting grassroots sports projects and I look forward to seeing the positive impact this new facility will have on community sport in the local area.”
Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said: “I am delighted that a grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund has enabled RWBSA to develop this new multi-sport facility. This development will provide a real boost to sport in the local area.
“Since 2000, the Football Foundation has supported grassroots projects worth more than £1.3bn, investing into areas where the need is greatest and where it will have the biggest impact in terms of getting more people playing football and a wide range of other sports.
“With this funding, provided by the Premier League, The FA and the Government, through Sport England, we are helping to improve community sports facilities across the country and thereby the playing experience of those who take part. This latest project in Royal Wootton Bassett is the latest addition to the inventory of modern community sports sites we are developing that cater for the needs of local people who want to play sport purely for the love if it and to stay healthy.”
Caption: George Tuckett, President of Royal Wootton Bassett Sports Association alongside children from the youth sections of the football, cricket and tennis clubs at the official opening of the sports hub.
Picture by Dave Morrison