STAFFORDSHIRE club Burntwood have received £50,000 from Sport England’s Protecting Playing Fields Olympic legacy fund.The funding will be used to improve the quality of the surfaces of the first and second team rugby pitches, the training area, junior football pitch and cricket outfield at the extensive facilities of the Burntwood Rugby Club Sports Association.
The improvements are aimed at providing more sporting opportunities for local residents.
Martyn Smith from the Burntwood Rugby Club Sports Association, which is contributing £7562 towards the project, said: “The grant will provide a major boost for, not only our club, but throughout the Burntwood sporting community. I would also like to thank our other partnership funders the Rugby Football Foundation and local business Crown Cutting Services for their valuable contributions.”
The announcement was welcomed by local MP, Michael Fabricant, who said: “This is fantastic news for Burntwood and great news for Rugby Union. This will make a huge difference to the facilities at the Club at an exciting time for rugby in our nation. This is a much needed boost for our area.”
The George Salter Academy in West Bromwich has also received £50,000 from the Protecting Playing Fields fund to develop an unused grass area into two junior rugby/football pitches and a cricket pitch.
The school plans to develop new teams and clubs to use the pitches, opening access to the wider community.
The announcement of funding for Burntwood and the George Salter Academy came as Sport England invited communities across the West Midlands to bring the 2012 legacy to life in their area by bidding for support for a local playing field through the second £2 million round of the £10 million Protecting Playing Fields fund.
In round one, over £2 million of National Lottery funding has been offered to sports clubs and local groups to bring disused playing fields back into use, improve existing sites or create new sports pitches. Protecting Playing Fieldsis part of the Places People Play legacy programme to bring the inspiration and magic of a home Olympic and Paralympic Games into communities all over the country.
Sport England’s Chair, Richard Lewis, said: “These investments will transform the local pitches where many young people have their first experience of sport. With all of the playing fields safe from development for at least a generation, communities across the West Midlands can look forward to years of sporting enjoyment.”
Minister for Sport and the Olympics, Hugh Robertson MP, said: “When we speak about leaving a lasting legacy from hosting the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games it’s about offering people more opportunities and better facilities to play sport, and protecting playing fields is central to this ambition. Thousands of sportsmen and women will now benefit from Sport England’s Protecting Playing Fields legacy fund seeing improvements to existing sites and bringing disused community playing fields back into use.”
All of the playing fields will also be protected from developers for at least 25 years, creating an enduring benefit for sport. And all but Burntwood will also become Queen Elizabeth II Fields after agreeing to dedicate their playing field in “perpetuity”. This is thanks to a partnership with Fields in Trust (FIT) which is running the Queen Elizabeth II Fields as part of the programme to mark the Diamond Jubilee and the London 2012 Olympics.
Alison Moore-Gwyn, Chief Executive of Fields in Trust said: “This fantastic investment into grassroots facilities in England will help to ensure that neighbourhoods can participate in sporting activities at all levels for years to come. We are delighted to see that over half of these playing fields will also be protected in perpetuity as part of the permanent legacy that the Queen Elizabeth II Fields Challenge will create in tribute to the Diamond Jubilee and the 2012 Olympics.”
Nationally, more than half of the groups benefiting from Protecting Playing Fieldsare community sports clubs while six are playing field associations, five are parish councils and three are schools or colleges.