Saffron Walden Community Football Club kick-off fundraising bid to build new pitch

PUBLISHED: 08:43 07 March 2019 | UPDATED: 09:49 07 March 2019

The site of the proposed 3G pitch at Saffron Walden County High School. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

The site of the proposed 3G pitch at Saffron Walden County High School. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

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A fundraising campaign has been launched by Saffron Walden Community Football Club and Saffron Walden County High School (SWCHS) to build a new 3G artificial grass pitch at the school.

Saffron Walden Community Football Club fundraising: Martin Johnson, Mike Hibbs, Polly Lankester and Matt Clare. Picture: CONTRIBUTEDSaffron Walden Community Football Club fundraising: Martin Johnson, Mike Hibbs, Polly Lankester and Matt Clare. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Essex Football Association has been working closely with the two parties on the proposal, indicating that it will support an injection of funding by the Football Foundation, as long as local funding and planning support is delivered.

Uttlesford is one of only two districts in Essex that doesn’t have a 3G artificial grass pitch and the overall estimated cost of the project is £900,000.

A fundraising campaign, known as ‘#mycommunity3G’, has been launched by the football club to support this funding package and they hope to raise £100,000 over the next six months to put towards the overall cost.

Each of the clubs’ 52 teams will be working towards delivering a contribution through a range of fundraising activities – including quiz nights, bake sales and sponsored events. They also hope to attract support from local businesses and plan to sell pitchside advertising to local businesses.

What the 3G pitch will look like at Saffron Walden County High School. Picture: CONTRIBUTEDWhat the 3G pitch will look like at Saffron Walden County High School. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Saffron Walden Community FC was named ‘Essex FA Club of the Year’ in 2018 and the club now has 42 teams and a thriving mini soccer school. Its sister club Saffron Walden PSG (for girls’ football) has a further 10 teams. In total, the clubs currently have about 800 young players.

Martin Johnson, chairman of the club, said: “We are growing every month and our young players need and deserve good facilities. Week in, week out we travel to away matches and see fantastic 3G football facilities. Getting this quality of facility in Saffron Walden itself is long overdue.

“SWCHS is committed to the scheme, and the Essex FA is supporting us, subject to gaining the local support we need. Together we can deliver a very significant financial investment in our town.

“So many volunteers contribute brilliantly to the club – both on the coaching and on the administration side. This new facility will enable us to expand and improve on that amazing work. Delivering a 3G will also allow us to expand into new areas like disability football.”

SWCFC is in the process of opening a new bank account with the Saffron Building Society to support the campaign.

Polly Lankester, associate head teacher of SWCHS, and former mayor of Saffron Walden, Councillor Mike Hibbs, are co-signatories for the account along with Martin Johnson and Matt Clare, vice-chairman, of the football club.

Polly Lankester said: “We are really excited to be part of this project, which will deliver a great new facility and bring huge benefits to people across Saffron Walden and the wider Uttlesford district. “The board of governors is very much behind this 3G scheme, and we hope to deliver it as soon as possible, working with the football club, the Essex FA and local authorities.”

Matt Clare, chairman of Saffron Walden PSG and vice chairman of the football club, said the pitch will really help develop their provision for girls’ football in the town.

He said: “It will also allow us to develop disability football – something I have personally been working on with the Essex FA on for some time, and which they are very positive about us doing. We can’t take this forward effectively without delivering this new 3G facility.”

Derek Jones, leader of Saffron Walden Organisations for Sport and chairman of WaldenTRI and Walden Track and Field, congratulated the football club on their resilience in pushing the project forward.

“A 3G facility will bring an exciting new dimension to the town’s sporting capability and the football club should be congratulated on their resilience in making this happen,” Mr Jones said. “The local sports clubs have been very proactive in recent years, working together in attempting to deliver modern high quality sports facilities for the town and surrounding area.”

The partners will move ahead in the coming weeks to seek planning permission from Uttlesford District Council and they hope to have the new facility in place by spring next year.

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