Star striker Michael Chopra opens new £3m football facility in Leicester

SFormer Premier League striker Michael Chopra attended the official opening of a new state-of-the-art £2.936m grassroots football facility at the Riverside scheme (off Braunstone Lane East) and Aylestone Playing Fields, Leicestershire.The facility’s opening signalled the completion of a coordinated investment in 11 grassroots facilities across Leicester, with grants worth a combined £5m – by the Premier League, The FA and Government, via Sport England – which was delivered by the Football Foundation.

Chopra, who played for Newcastle and Sunderland in England’s top division, was joined by former Arsenal player, Brendon Batson MBE, and current marathon world record holder for the over-90 age group, Fauja Singh, to help celebrate the opening.

The new facility, which is spread over two sites adjacent to each other, comprises: a new third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch (AGP); two new sports pavilions which include fourteen changing rooms for players and officials alike, a kitchen and a bar. There have also been major improvements made to the existing real grass pitches through the implementation of a new drainage system.

The site, which will be home to Leicester City Women FC and Guru Nanak Gurdwara (GNG) FC, will boost the provision of female and disability teams in an area that has struggled in recent years to cope with the growing demand.

Also, the new facility means that GNG FC, who raised £50,000 towards the project, will now be able to increase the number of teams within their club from 16 to 24. Additionally, the site will allow Ellesmere College to dramatically increase the number of opportunities for those with disabilities in Leicester to engage in regular sporting activity.

Funded by the Premier League, The FA, and the Government, via Sport England, the Football Foundation is the country’s largest sports charity. Since it was launched in 2000, the Foundation has awarded around 12,000 grants worth more than £490m towards improving grassroots sport, which it has used to attract additional partnership funding of over £651m – over £1bn of investment into the grassroots game.

The project received support from former Leicester City FC player and Football Foundation Ambassador, Dion Dublin, who commented: “These new facilities are a true investment into grassroots football. To enable and increase the participation in sport and physical activity for children, adults and families throughout the city is a commitment that will enable people to enhance and change their lives.”

Rohan Morgan, Chairman at Leicester City Women Football Club, said: “For the first time in our 10-year history, our girls and women have somewhere that we can call home – a permanent base where the club can now truly develop and grow”.

Steve White, Chair of Governors at Ellesmere Sports College and Patron of GNG FC, said: “GNG FC, Leicester Women FC and Ellesmere Specialist Sports College are all celebrating the fact that they now have a state-of –the-art football facility in the country and maybe in the world! It is a marvellous opportunity for us and I would like to say thank you, particularly to the Premier League, The FA, the Government and Sport England for their vision and foresight.”

Pete Fitzboydon, Chief Operating Officer, Football Foundation – the sports charity that delivers the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, said: “The opening of this outstanding new project marks the culmination of our Funding Partners’ coordinated investment in 11 grassroots facilities across Leicester, with grants worth a combined £5m. Those grants have transformed some of the country’s worst grassroots facilities into sites that increase the number of people who can stay fit and healthy by participating in sport.

“The Football Foundation is dedicated to improving grassroots facilities across the country with investment from our Funding Partners – the Premier League, The FA, and the Government, via Sport England. The Leicester FA, Leicester City Council and everyone involved with the Riverside and Aylestone Playing Fields project deserve praise for their hard work on the facility.”


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