Former Arsenal and France International midfielder, Robert Pires, returned to north London recently (Friday 1st November) to officially open Fleet Primary School’s new state-of-the-art third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch (AGP).
The new pitch was made possible thanks to investment from the Premier League, The FA and Government's Football Foundation, as well as contributions from Camden Council, the London Marathon Charitable and The Arsenal Foundation.
After netting a £176,409 grant from the Football Foundation, work begun on the site in July 2019. Camden Council also contributed £100,000, whilst the London Marathon Charitable Trust and The Arsenal Foundation pledged £55,000 and £20,000 respectively.
The project was undertaken to upgrade the school’s 20-year-old macadam pitch that had received no investment since its original construction. It has now been replaced by a 44m x 25m floodlit 3G pitch, which also features a spectator area and a community access ramp to support those with disabilities.
The facility is expected to spark a significant rise in participation within the area, with the site having previously been used exclusively by the school.
The pitch will now provide a new training base for partner clubs Kentish Town FC, and North London’s largest Youth team, Hampstead Town FC, to take advantage of, supporting more than 600 players across the two clubs.
The pitch will now provide a new training base for local partner clubs and community organisations, offering them a safe and clean environment in which to play.
In addition, the site will also be used by Arsenal in the Community to deliver several of their more prominent community schemes, including Premier League Kicks.
Kicks sessions for local youths, curriculum time football sessions for Fleet School and the Camden Centre for Learning Pupil Referral Unit (which are both based at the site) and a weekend league for local grassroots teams.
Former Arsenal and France midfielder, Robert Pires, said: “It’s very important to be here for the opening of this new pitch. We need to work together to build as many pitches (as possible) in and around London.
“Of course, you can play football on the street, but if you have the opportunity to play football on pitches like this it is the best. It’s a better experience and maybe you can improve, maybe you can learn. To see lots of smiles on the faces of the kids playing here shows us why it is so important to have these facilities.”
Councillor Jonathan Simpson, Cabinet Member for Promoting Culture and Communities, Camden Council, said: “I am very excited about the opening of Fleet Primary School’s new state-of-the-art football pitch and how it will benefit the community and its young people.
“Now both the school’s students and children in the surrounding area will have the chance to get involved and play football on a fantastic facility – and, who knows, perhaps follow in the footsteps of Robert Pires?
“Grassroots sports are vital to our community - they ensure children and young people remain active and healthy, as well as offering them the opportunity to play in a team with other young people and, most importantly, have a really great time.”
Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said: “Grassroots sport plays an important role in communities across the UK, creating opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds. That is why I am delighted that Fleet Primary School has now opened their state-of-the-art 3G in Camden, thanks to investment from the Football Foundation.
“Continuing to improve access to high-quality facilities like this one is a key aim for the Premier League, The FA and the Government. Delivered by the Football Foundation, their funding supports projects for clubs and organisations all over the country and is helping to boost the number of people benefiting from sport through better facilities.
“Grassroots football provides so many benefits for members of the community, not least of which is the opportunity to enjoy themselves. Love for our national game, something that can be found across the country, is an integral part of what drives the Foundation and its Funding Partners to keep increasing the standards and quality of our facilities.”