Ipswich's Bourne Park will no longer host football matches amid sport's declining popularity
PUBLISHED: 18:00 29 March 2018 | UPDATED: 18:01 29 March 2018
A junior football club manager has warned declining popularity of the game among children in Ipswich could leave parts of the town with no pitches to play on.
Nick Ward, who manages Chantry Grasshoppers’ under 18s team, raised fears for the future of the sport after being told the football pitches in Bourne Park, where the club had played for several seasons, will close next season.
The Grasshoppers have been the only team using Bourne Park in recent years and will have to relocate to either Gainsborough or Whitton sports centre next season when it graduates to the adult leagues.
Ipswich Borough Council requires adult teams to play in venues with facilities including changing rooms, which Bourne Park does not have.
With no junior teams using Bourne Park, the pitches will no longer be maintained.
Mr Ward said pitches had also been lost from other parks in south west Ipswich including Gypswyk, Ellenbrook Road, Murray Road and Chantry.
“If this continues then the youth and adults of the future will be force to play further and further away,” he added.
“This must not be allowed to happen.”
Mr Ward said he did not blame Ipswich Borough Council for the closures, which he suggested were a symptom of the sport’s declining popularity.
“If you go back 20 years, there were pitches everywhere in Ipswich,” he added.
“But now it’s not the same. There are fewer children playing football because there seems to be so much else for them to be doing.”
“When I was child everyone was outside building dens or down at the rec playing football.
“Nowadays it seems they’re all indoors playing computer games.
“I’ve been running the club for several seasons and I’ve noticed a decline in how many players want to play each week.”
Mr Ward said he was concerned the closure of pitches across Ipswich would leave the town unable to take advantage if the Suffolk Football Association was looking to invest money in new teams.
“We’d have to say sorry, we’ve not got any pitches left,” he added.
Mr Ward would like more young people to join a club.
Visit the football club’s website at www.chantrygrasshoppersfc.co.uk/ to find out how to get involved.