Spurs partnership with Walden clubs is a first in UK
- Credit: Archant
Community football has been given a major boost through significant developments in Saffron Walden.
A new partnership with a prestigious Premier League club has been unveiled.
And following a long-running community campaign, Persimmon Homes has installed temporary changing facilities for Lime Avenue, though they are not yet plumbed in.
The new partnership between Saffron Walden Community Football Club and Saffron Walden PSGirls FC with Tottenham Hotspur’s Global Football Development team is the first of its kind for Spurs in the UK with a grassroots football club. It will start in September, when the new 3G artificial grass pitch opens, for an initial period of two years.
They will host weekly player development sessions for boys and girls every Friday evening on the new Community 3G pitch at Saffron Walden County High School (SWCHS).
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Spurs will also be offering Player Development Programmes at SWCHS during every school holiday.
The clubs will benefit from coaching support from Spurs’ team, and Spurs coaches will mentor Saffron Walden coaching staff.
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Andy Rogers, Head of Global Football Development at Tottenham Hotspur, said: “We have been extremely impressed with the Saffron Walden Community FC and Saffron Walden PSG FC infrastructure and their clear passion and commitment for player and coach development.
"We are delighted to be launching our first UK based Youth Club Partner and look forward to working with them to develop players at coaches at every level within the clubs.“
Matt Clare, SWCFC Secretary, said: "We’re thrilled to have reached an agreement on this ground breaking partnership with such a prestigious Premier League club.
"We have been working on this with Spurs for a long time and we are so pleased that the timing of this announcement coincides with the opening of our new 3G artificial grass pitch.
"Much of the funding for the 3G AGP has come from the Premier League via the Football Foundation, so it is fitting that we have been able to reach this agreement with Spurs.
"We are honoured that they have chosen Saffron Walden’s boys and girls for their first partnership of this kind in the UK.”
Trevor Bissett, SWPSGFC Chair, said: “We see wide reaching benefits in the Partnership for all of our young players, and for our coaches too.”
The new temporary changing rooms building for Lime Avenue has finally been installed, having been chased for years.
The town council and Saffron Walden Community Football Club are waiting for Persimmon Homes to sort out the utilities - water, drainage and electricity - so it can be used.
A spokesperson for Persimmon Homes Essex said: “Having completed the first stage by installing the changing rooms we are working now to finalise service and drainage connections for these changing rooms in readiness for use by the community.
"We fully appreciate and share the community desire to see these facilities open as soon as possible and we can assure all interested parties that we are pressing the service providers to complete these connections as soon as possible.”
The Lime Avenue portable buildings will be available for five years.
Concerns have already been raised about the look.
Resident Tim Wilkinson expressed dissatisfaction.
He said the community has waited for years for the playing fields to finally be available to the community, and the facility could have been permanent or cash given towards football club upgrades.
"What we've been left with is a hideous structure that barely ticks the box of the original commitment.
"Our town and district authorities must have more vision on these projects and push developers to truly deliver long lasting value for our community through these Section 106 agreements."
A Saffron Walden Town Council spokesperson declined to comment on the "hideous structure" accusation.
Uttlesford District Council who approve planning matters was approached for comment.
Matt Clare of Saffron Walden Community Football Club said the facility was "not a thing of beauty". They hope to be able to use the pitches before September.