Town legend Burley opens new Needham Market 3G pitch
- Credit: Charlotte Bond
A new 3G pitch has been unveiled at Needham Market FC, and it is hoped it will help open up the beautiful game to more women, children and disabled players.
Opened by Ipswich Town legend George Burley, the new pitch sits alongside the existing grass pitch used by the Marketmen's first team.
Launched on Saturday July 27, just ahead of the start of the new season, the pitch will largely be used by the club's academy, junior and women's team, but it will also be made available to the wider community.
Using longer synthetic grass, the third generation (3G) artificia pitch will provide better grip and a smoother playing surface that is more weather-proof than grass.
The pitch comes as part of a large-scale development at the club, made possible by a £472,792 grant from the Football Federation - funded by the Premier League, The FA and the government.
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Further funding came from a £20,000 grant from the Premier League through the FSIF, the sister organisation of the Football Foundation.
The development at the Bloomfields stadium includes a new community facility, with changing rooms, a cafe and multifunction room spread across two floors, with up to 1,000 local people directly benefiting from the upgrade.
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Academy Operations Director, Robert Peace, said he is excited to see the opportunities the new pitch opens up. He said: "It was a fantastic day that showcased what this development can do to help local people.
"The new facilities will allow us to start more women's and disabled teams - potentially including blind or walking football.
"Off the pitch, the cafe will help us to bring the community together and get more people involved with the football club."
Bury St Edmunds MP Jo Churchill joined Burley as a special guest and was presented with an official Grassroots Champion award.
Mrs Churchill, who has been campaigning for new facilities at the club for four years, said: "The club has great aspirations for their academy, so having facilities like this is so important.
"Simply put, it is a brilliant example of the community coming together - it was lovely to receive a reward, but the real champions are Graham (CEO), the team and the volunteers."