Harley represents Foundation at pitch opening

Former Chelsea defender and current Academy coach Jon Harley was the guest of honour at Bridgemary School in Gosport (today) Tuesday as he officially opened their new third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch.

The project was made possible thanks to a £355,397 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which provides grants towards developing new or refurbished grassroots football facilities.

Harley, who signed schoolboy forms at Stamford Bridge at the age of 11 and broke in to the first team during a successful period at the end of the 1990s, cut the ribbon at the new pitch in front of staff and students who will now benefit from the first-class facility which can be used year round.

The former Chelsea left-back was representing the Chelsea Foundation, who will use the pitch to deliver coaching sessions during school holidays. Local sides Gosport FC, Gosport Borough Youth FC and Spartan Colts FC, along with the pupils of Bridgemary School and the wider community will also benefit from the facility.

Harley said: ‘It was a privilege to open the excellent new 3G pitch at Bridgemary School. The investment provided by the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which is delivered by the Football Foundation, has enabled the school to offer a stunning facility for the local community to utilise all year round.

‘Chelsea will also use this excellent new playing surface to deliver coaching schemes. Close links between the professional game and communities are crucial in helping to promote the next generation of talent and helping youngsters enjoy the benefits of physical activity. I’m delighted that the Chelsea Foundation will be able to carry out such work here in Gosport.’

Bridgemary School worked in partnership with the Hampshire FA to secure the grant from the Premier League and the FA Facilities Fund.

By providing more high-quality facilities, coupled with coaching at the appropriate age group, the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which is funded by the Premier League, the FA and the government, via Sport England, and delivered by the Football Foundation, aims to improve the experience for regular players as well as attracting new players to the game.

Many of the new state-of-the-art facilities will serve to strengthen the connection between professional football clubs and their local communities, particularly in the most deprived areas of the country.

The school also received £150,000 from Sport England’s Inspired Facilities legacy fund towards the cost of the new 3G pitch. To date the fund has helped more than 1,600 local sports projects across the country.

Scott Sivier, partnerships and transition manager at Bridgemary School, said: ‘I’d like to thank Chelsea Foundation for kindly supporting our grand opening and agreeing to allow Jon Harley to officially open this fantastic new facility.

‘I’d also like to thank the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, as without their support the wider community of Gosport would not have this excellent facility. This state-of-the-art sports pitch will have a hugely positive impact on local grassroots sport and football development for many years to come.’