ESSEX County FA Development Manager, Brendan Walshe, is urging local clubs to ensure the area is well represented with applications for Sport England ‘Protecting Playing Fields’ funding after a window for submissions opened recently.
The programme is inviting applications for projects that help communities maximise the sporting benefits of playing field land. It will create, improve and protect them by improving their condition, whilst supporting the purchase of those deemed at risk of being lost. It will bring disused fields back into use and offer support to voluntary groups and local authorities.
Playing fields are one of the most important resources for sport in England, but many of them are waterlogged or in a state of disrepair, so Sport England are investing £28 million of National Lottery funding into improving community sports fields. The programme is being delivered via eight funding rounds, and the current round will close on 24th March.
Sport England believe that the improvement and protection of playing fields will help more people play sport. Successful projects will be those where organisations can demonstrate future management, maintenance and sporting use at the site and ensure that the site is protected for 25 years or longer. This means that organisations must own (or intend to own) the freehold, or have a lease for the field for that length of time.
Walshe explained: “We’re currently in the middle of a terrible patch of wet weather, which is causing a lot of our local pitches to be waterlogged so matches are being postponed. It’s crucial that we take advantage of funding streams like the Sport England Protecting Playing Fields programme to make a positive impact on future seasons.”
Sport England’s website at www.sportengland.org/funding contains information and guidance about Protecting Playing Fields, including how to apply, how an application will be assessed and what Sport England are looking for. Further details on grassroots Essex football can be found at www.essexfa.com, on Twitter @EssexCountyFA and on Facebook by searching for ‘EssexFootball’.