Tom Davies joined in a kickabout with young footballers on Thursday to celebrate the first anniversary of four multi-million pound sporting hubs across Liverpool.
The Everton midfielder was given a tour of the state-of-the-art facilities at Jericho Lane playing fields, one of four multi-sport hubs that have been developed as part of a £20.8m project to transform facilities across the city.
The upgrades were made possible thanks to £12.7m of investment from the Premier League, The FA and Government’s Football Foundation. A significant £7.8m contribution from Liverpool City Council and £250,000 from the Rugby Football Union completed the grant funding of the four sites.
Since opening in October 2018, the four hubs - Jericho Lane, Jeffrey Humble, Heron Eccles and Simpson - have collectively welcomed more than 500,000 visitors through their doors, enabling people to access a wide range of sporting facilities.
Speaking at the event, which was also attended by Liverpool and England defender Trent Alexander-Arnold, Davies said: “It’s been brilliant to meet so many people having a kick around here and having fun through football. People in Liverpool are football-mad and to see such a wide range of activity here at Jericho Lane is really inspiring.
"The investment by the Football Foundation funding partners also enables Everton to work closely with local people at these hubs to deliver vital community and education programmes.”
These sites in Liverpool form part of the Football Foundation’s five-year commitment to building multi-pitch hubs across towns and cities in England, with the aim of raising the quality of grassroots facilities and providing sporting opportunities for all. Introduced in 2016, the £200m investment has enabled the Football Foundation to work in partnership with councils and local football organisations.
Sports Minister Nigel Adams said: “For decades, Liverpool has lived and breathed football, making it a key part of the city’s identity. The Hubs Programme is embracing this passion, using these first-rate, multi-sport facilities to increase participation, improve mental and physical health, and bring people of all backgrounds together."
The Football Foundation investment into these four hubs has seen the creation of 12 third generation (3G) artificial grass pitches (AGP), as well as health and fitness and coaching facilities across the sites – representing a major overhaul in grassroots football provision throughout the city. These sites are operated by Pulse Soccer, who themselves invested £1million to create welcoming facilities for the whole community.
As well as improving sporting opportunities, the sites are also used to support the social wellbeing of individuals within the local community, with sessions being run to combat knife crime, improve mental health and support the Women’s Institute.
Both Everton in the Community and the Liverpool FC Foundation also run programmes at the hubs. Everton Football College deliver sixth form education at Jericho Lane, and Everton in the Community deliver a weekly Kicks session for junior footballers at Jeffrey Humble. The Blues’ charity also holds Soccer Schools at the Jericho Lane and Heron Eccles sites.
Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said: “The Premier League, The FA and Government’s Football Foundation is dedicated to improving community sports facilities like this one at Jericho Lane. Our funding has played a key role in delivering Jericho Lane and three other ‘Hub’ sites across Liverpool, along with significant partnership funding from Liverpool City Council.
“Our total impact across Liverpool since 2000 has gone way beyond these four sites. We have developed 60 separate community football facilities across the region worth £77 million – and we are not stopping there. We are committed to investing in even more in the future, and will be looking to engage partners to join our mission and help deliver quality football facilities for people in Liverpool, and indeed across the country.”
Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, said: “Liverpool is the spiritual home of English football and the four hubs are helping transform the grassroots game in the city and give it a secure future.
“They are state-of-the-art facilities that enable people of all ages and abilities to play, whatever the weather, maximising the number of games that can take place.
“Together with our partners, we believe we have come up with a model that puts the game on a sure footing for years to come.”
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