We're delighted to announce that the new state-of-the-art 3G football pitch in Witney is now officially open.
The new facility was unveiled this week by West Oxfordshire District Council who were joined by Oxfordshire FA staff, local partner clubs; Tower Hill FC and Witney Vikings and pupils from Henry Box Secondary School in Witney.
The facility was made possible by a £212,044 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which is delivered by the Football Foundation and a £156,389 Council investment. The Witney 3G is the second new facility to open in Oxfordshire following the unveiling of the all-weather pitch at The Oxford Academy in October 2017.
The grant enabled West Oxfordshire District Council to replace an existing sand-based artificial grass pitch, which could no longer support the local demand due to age, with a state-of-the-art all-weather playing surface. The funding also helped the installation of new floodlights and repairing boundary fencing, improving safety and security for the site.
Cllr Jeanette Baker, Cabinet Member for Leisure at West Oxfordshire District Council, said: “This is a wonderful facility which represents a major advance on the previous pitch thanks to the investment we have made along with the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund.
“It will play a major contribution in helping to improve grassroots sport along with the health and fitness of many people in Witney and the surrounding area.”
Oxfordshire FA worked closely with the Council in the development of this project, which will now see the delivery of a five-year Football Development Plan; a vision of how sport will be played on site with an emphasis on increasing participation.
The new facility will benefit local clubs including Tower Hill FC and Witney Vikings FC but, thanks to the upgraded playing surface, it is expected that the number of teams already using the site will grow from 14 to 49. Of these 35 new teams, three will be female sides. This, as well as planned ‘This Girl Can’ sessions, will help to raise female football participation by 52% on-site.
Andy Earnshaw, Business and Facilities Development Manager for Oxfordshire FA, said: “With this investment, a much-needed new addition to football playing and training facilities in Witney has been made possible.
“It is fantastic to have this state-of-the-art facility in the town and we look forward to working with the project partners to support both new and existing football fans to benefit from this exciting development.”
Henry Box and other local schools as well as local small-sided leagues will also benefit greatly from the new pitch. There will also be supervised coaching and training sessions organised by Oxford United FC and GLL Better – who manage the site on behalf of West Oxfordshire District Council.
Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said: “The Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund provides the investment necessary to improve grassroots football facilities. So, I am delighted to see West Oxfordshire District Council join thousands of local clubs and organisations who have reaped its benefit, in this case through the opening of their 3G AGP.
“Having delivered over £1.4bn of grassroots sports infrastructure projects, the Football Foundation has developed a network of accessible, first-class facilities in areas they will have the greatest impact – thanks to money from the Premier League, The FA and the Government via Sport England.
“These facilities are more than places to play football at, these facilities are hubs of physical activity, the bedrock of local communities and ‘homes from home’ for so many who also use them as social outlets to learn new skills, gain work experience and other qualifications.”