Scholes backs joint fund

Paul Scholes has lent his support to the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund after visiting two venues to have benefited from the initiative.

The former England and Manchester United midfielder went to local facilities at Salford City College’s Eccles Campus, built with a grant of £179,276 from the fund, and Salford Community Leisure’s Fit City, which received a £472,401 grant to refurbish their pitch.

Scholes said he was delighted to see such positive investments into the grassroots game, and believes adults and children – male and female – will all benefit from the investment.

“It brings kids together to play football, not just boys but girls and adults too,” he told The Premier League.

“You see kids around streets with nothing to do but if you put a football pitch and some goals there, you can virtually guarantee that it’s going to pass a night for them. It’s a way of getting kids off the streets and bringing people together.

Paul Scholes joins in on the action

“I lived in quite a rough place when I was a kid and if we had something like this we’d be there every day. I wish it was around when I was a kid.

“This is the real stuff, this is what giving back to the community is all about. What the Premier League is doing in providing these pitches is incredible, really.”

In 2013 the Premier League, The FA and the Government via Sport England launched a funding package to boost grassroots facilities across the country, committing to £102 million of investment over three years to a new Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund.

The Fund, delivered by the Football Foundation, England’s largest sports charity, aids the building and refurbishing of grassroots facilities, giving people from all walks of life the opportunity to play football at safe and well-maintained venues. 

Funding began at the start of this year and local communities have started to benefit from the new, 3G artificial grass pitches on their doorstep.

More than £650,000 has been invested in the two Salford centres

Asked if facilities can help the journey from youth football through academy to first-team football, Scholes said: “Without a doubt. We have seen the results in Germany and Brazil. 

“The Premier League has put loads of money in to get as many of these pitches as we can. If we can do that then hopefully there’s a brighter future for English football.”

Caroline Barrow, the Salford Community Leisure sports and leisure manager, also praised the initiative. 

“We’ve set up a system where it costs £1 to play because we were getting so many kids coming down and they thought it was amazing. They couldn’t believe that it had been built in their area. 

“Kids can come down after school so for the local police and the local community, they have seen a decrease in anti-social behaviour in the evenings.

“It’s had a massive impact. We are looking at getting people more active more often and we have seen a rise in our figures in terms of people using the pitch. It’s all ages, from juniors to senior five-a-sides. It’s lifted the whole area, it’s really exciting times.”

Click here for more information on The Premier League and The FA Facilities Fund.