THE PREMIER LEAGUE, THE FA AND GOVERNMENT’S FOOTBALL FOUNDATION HAS ANNOUNCED THE LAUNCH OF ITS ‘POWER UP YOUR GRASS PITCH’ CAMPAIGN, WHICH WILL REVOLUTIONISE THE STATE OF GRASS FOOTBALL PITCHES IN ENGLAND.
The country’s biggest sports charity is on a mission to improve over 7,000 grass pitches by 2024 and 20,000 by 2030, to ensure the 12 million grassroots football players across the country have great places to play.
Around 87% of affiliated football is played on grass pitches, and with over 150,000 matches cancelled due to poor pitch quality during the last football season alone, play is often brought to a halt. The improvements brought about thanks to the Football Foundations work will make these cancellations a thing of the past. Further more if the improvements are achieved, by 2030 grassroots football pitches in England will be able to facilitate an additional 30,000 matches per week.
Improving facilities means that more people across England will get to enjoy playing the nation’s favourite sport, transforming people’s physical and mental wellbeing, as well as supporting local communities and economies.
To help make this ambition a reality, the Football Foundation has developed an app which is now being rolled out across the country. ‘PitchPower’ is an online tool that gives every community football club and organisation in the country the ability to carry out their own grass pitch inspections, providing fast and accurate data which is less time intensive and more efficient than in person inspections. Once an inspection is submitted, Regional Pitch Advisers at the Grounds Management Association produce an assessment report with bespoke advice and recommendations to improve the grass pitch quality at a site.
By using this tool more widely, the Football Foundation anticipates it will be able to carry out as many as 20,000 inspections a year, five times as many as in the past. In its trial phase, PitchPower has helped to inspect almost 5,000 pitches. These inspections have led to 446 grants being issued worth £8.6m, all of which has gone towards improving 1,564 pitches.
Once inspections have been completed via the PitchPower app – clubs and facilities are then eligible to apply for funding from the Football Foundation to support pitch improvements identified through the app.
Along with PitchPower unlocking funding, clubs and organisations will also be encouraged to upskill their workforce by having access to a range of free courses from the Grounds Management Association and join a community of professional and amateur groundskeepers on the free Football Foundation Groundskeeping Community App.
Robert Sullivan, Football Foundation Chief Executive Officer, said: “Millions of players are left disappointed every year when their matches are cancelled due to poor quality pitches, something the Football Foundation and its partners are working tirelessly to prevent. We have made some ambitious targets when it comes to improving grass pitches – we want to get 20,000 pitches to ‘good’ quality by 2030 – to ensure no games are called off because of a poor quality pitch.
“Thanks to funding from the Premier League, The FA and Government our dedicated teams will be working hard to ensure clubs and facilities across the country have the support and resource they need to power up their grass pitches.”