- The UK government, the FA and the Premier League’s Football Foundation has opened the first of 23 sites to honour winning Lionesses of EURO 2022
- Naming comes as part of government commitment to improve access to sport for women and girls, and build on the Lionesses’ inspirational legacy
- UK-wide £300 million capital investment in grassroots facilities will support talent of the future and represents biggest ever commitment to delivering equal access for women and girls playing football
The pitches, being built in or around the hometowns of the winning players are funded by the government, the FA and the Premier League’s Football Foundation. It will inspire the next generation of female stars with top class facilities.
The ‘Jill Scott Pitch’ was unveiled in a ceremony at the Perth Green Community Centre in Jarrow alongside coaches and members of the local community who will benefit from the 3G pitch. The new floodlit facility is just five miles from Jill’s hometown of Sunderland and will support the growth of female, disability and recreational football in the local area.
Following their victory – the first English football team to win a major trophy since 1966 – the government, Premier League and the Football Association’s Football Foundation committed to naming grassroots facilities in honour of the squad. The site namings form part of national efforts to raise the profile of women’s football at the elite level and increase access and participation for women and girls at the grassroots level.
This site is one of many across the UK to have benefited from the government’s UK-wide £300 million four-year capital investment into grassroots multi-sports facilities.
The Football Foundation is delivering outstanding grassroots facilities, more and better places to play, and transforming lives and communities where it is needed most.
Fifty per cent of the investment is going directly to the most deprived areas across the UK and the benefits will be felt beyond football: by 2025, 40 per cent of Football Foundation investment will go to projects which host at least one additional sport such as rugby, cricket, netball and basketball.
Jill Scott, MBE said:
“It’s an absolute honour to have a site that will be used by so many people in the local community named after me in the place I used to play!
“Winning the Women’s EUROS was incredibly special and I hope, thanks to this recognition and funding from The Premier League, The FA and government’s Football Foundation, this pitch will benefit Lionesses of the future.“
The FA’s Director of Women’s Football, Sue Campbell, said:
“The England women’s team changed the landscape for the women’s and girls’ game when they lifted the UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 trophy last year. The success of the team wasn’t just about lifting the trophy, it was also about changing the path for women and girls who want to or currently play football up and down the country.
“By 2024 The FA want to see 5,000 good-quality pitches added to the current number. With the Football Foundation, we are prioritising the areas and communities where these new pitches are most needed. This project allows us to provide more opportunities for people to play football across the region. Jill Scott has had an incredible career and no doubt inspired many people in her hometown to take up the game, so I’m sure the ‘Jill Scott pitch’ will be extremely popular.”
Premier League Head of Community Nick Perchard said:
“The Premier League is committed to developing the game at all levels and we are investing more than ever before into women’s and girls’ football, from the WSL to grassroots.
“This includes work in partnership with The FA to develop pathways for young players, improving facilities and developing greater workforce pathways for women and girls.
“We are delighted to see our funding going towards new pitches honouring the Lionesses, bringing together state-of-the-art facilities with inspirational role models to get more girls playing the game.”
To ensure women and girls can benefit from these facilities, and help create a lasting legacy, all sites in the multisport grassroots programme must provide access based on the needs of the local women’s and girls’ teams. The move is also designed to support the Football Association’s ambition for the UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 to create 500,000 extra opportunities for women and girls to play football.
Image: By James Boyes – Flickr: England Ladies v Montenegro 5 4 2014 372, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32117435