College sports pitch set for major upgrade after grant
09:47 01 May 2014
School pupils and residents alike are set to benefit from a new £150,000 upgrade to a sports pitch at Exmouth Community College.
The project, for the smaller artificial pitch on the college’s Gipsy Lane site, has been made possible by a £75,000 grant from Sport England, match-funding money from the college, and East Devon District Council leisure centre operators LED Leisure Management.
The cash will allow the fitting of new, hi-tech floodlighting, and a new 3G pitch, which will replicate grass and allow contact sports, including rugby and American football, to be played safely on it.
The change will mean the college’s teams will no longer have to worry about waterlogged pitches, or even getting muddy!
The grant has been secured thanks to hard work from the college’s head of PE, Richard Thompson, and Rob Rooksby, director of its Exmouth Raptors American football programme.
And it’s not just college pupils who will benefit, as the involvement of LED will allow members of the public to hire the facility in evenings and at weekends, while the work will also boost the college’s successful programme working with local primary schools.
College principal Tony Alexander said: “It’s the next step in our development as a school which has a higher sporting reputation.
“The whole community, from primary school children to adults, will benefit.
“We have done very well to get this grant. We have been assisted by Councillor Jill Elson and the local community to get these wonderful facilities, and I am particularly grateful to Mr Thompson and Mr Rooksby.”
LED chief executive Peter Gilpin said: “LED is delighted to hear that Exmouth Community College has successfully secured funding from Sport England towards the refurbishment of one of their artificial turf pitches.
“LED has pledged financial support towards this project and is looking forward to working in partnership with the college to facilitate the improved community use that this will enable, particularly at evenings and weekends.
“This will benefit a number of sports clubs as well as provide an alternative facility for activities that will be affected by the forthcoming alterations to Exmouth Leisure Centre, such as five-a-side football.”
Although the new surface will be a great improvement for users, there is a chance that the project could yet produce even greater benefits.
With a few months until work gets underway on the new surface, the college is also hoping to raise an additional £65,000, which would allow it to extend the pitch by five metres in length and eight metres in length.
The college is therefore asking any local businesses or benefactors who might be interested in helping with this to come forward, by emailing Mr Rooksby at email@example.com.
News of the upcoming project has not just been welcomed locally, with the Exmouth Raptors programme’s importance for the sport of American football in the UK reflected by how the news has been greeted by its governing bodies.
Director of the British American Football Association (BAFA) Andy Fuller said: “‘BAFA is very pleased and excited to see Exmouth successfully gain the Sport England funding for the redevelopment of their small astroturf.
“This will be very important for the sporting community of the area but of course, our specific interest is in how this will further the American football programme that has been successfully established at the college since 2010 and is a ‘flagship’ BAFA programme.
“Congratulations to all concerned; a tremendous achievement.”
David Tossell of NFLUK said: “‘NFLUK was pleased to hear the news that Exmouth Community College had been awarded £75,000 towards the cost of upgrading a small astroturf pitch.
“Not only will this benefit the entire sporting community of Exmouth but also it will allow the college’s American football programme to move forward in a new and exciting way.
“We wish everyone concerned congratulations on the bid’s success.”
Richard Fuller MP said: “‘It was with great pleasure that as Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on American football I received the news that Exmouth Community College had been successful in their Sport England bid.
“This is an important recognition of one of the country’s leading American football programmes.
“The benefits to the community and also to the development of the American football programme at the college will no doubt be significant.
“We offer our congratulations to all those involved in securing this funding and will watch the developments at the college with much interest.”