Norfolk County Football Association (Norfolk FA) has confirmed the start of building works at its Football Development Centre (The FDC) in Norwich this week, that will see the introduction of a full size 3G AGP (Artificial Grass Pitch) to the facility based in Bowthorpe.
Thanks to a £250,000 grant from Greater Norwich Growth Board in conjunction with Norwich City Council, and £646,040 funding from the Football Foundation, the local Governing Body’s flagship facility and County Headquarters will boast a new state of the art all-weather pitch complete with new hospitality suite.
Norfolk FA hopes to increase the accessibility of all-weather training opportunities to local grassroots football teams and National League clubs, with the conversion to 3G enabling an increase of over 50% in pitch hire availability at the facility.
Currently boasting eight small-sided 3G pitches, The FDC is also home to the presently named ‘Field of Dreams’ grass pitch arena, which Norfolk FA has traditionally used for County Cup Finals and other large scale football events.
Building work began at the start of the week which will see the grass pitch converted to a full size, floodlit 3G pitch in a £1,018,800 redevelopment of the stadia, due to be completed in the spring.
The current small-sided pitches will then see a £164,000 conversion and refurbishment which will result in the facility hosting four newly resurfaced 7-a-side pitches and two 5-a-side pitches.
The project marks Phase 2 of a two-season improvement plan at the Football Development Centre, which the County FA has owned the lease for since 2009.
Last year, Phase 1 saw a £220,000 extension and refurbishment of the reception area, kitchen and bar. Whilst at the front of the main building and within the FDC grounds, construction was recently completed on the Association’s new County Headquarters – a £372,500 office complex that has seen the relocation of the County FA’s core workforce from Meridian Business Park.
The completion of Phase 2 by the end of the current football season will take total spending of the facility project to approximately £1.75m.
Robert Sullivan, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said: “This grant award to Norfolk FA towards developing its Football Development Centre is great news for the local community.
“It will support people’s ability to play our national game locally and therefore help unlock football’s many benefits to physical and mental wellbeing. That’s why we’re committed to transforming the face of grassroots football facilities in this country. It’s therefore very welcome news to hear that this funding will support Norfolk FA in developing increased 3G pitch hire availability for their local community.
“The Football Foundation is working closely with our partners – the Premier League, The FA, government and Sport England – support facility development projects like this across the country over the next decade to transform our grassroots game and unlock the power of pitches.”
Councillor Matthew Packer, cabinet member for health and wellbeing at Norwich City Council, said: “This conversion into a 3G surface will allow the pitch at The FDC to be used year-round and in all weather conditions, offering even more opportunities for playing football to our residents.
"We were delighted to be able to support this investment with CIL funding, and are looking forward to the benefits this will bring.”
Norfolk County FA Chief Executive, Matt Carpenter said: “On behalf of Norfolk County Football Association I would like to place on record our gratitude for the financial support provided by both The Football Foundation, and the Greater Norwich Growth Board, to enable this project to become a reality.
“The latest phase of our facility improvement plan will see our grass stadia pitch converted to 3G, which will see a huge increase in the number of clubs, teams and players we are able to support with pitch hire provision. Not to mention enabling increased participation programmes, inclusion opportunities and CPD events which will support our