A new multi-million pound sports hub in Plymouth, which is expected to support 30,000 people taking part in physical activity a year, was opened by England legend Peter Shilton last week.
The facility which is set to become an integral venue for community sport in the local area, includes a floodlit third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch (AGP), one adult and one junior grass football pitches, a new artificial cricket wicket, eight grass wickets and a four-team changing pavilion (made possible thanks to investment from Argyle Community Trust, Plymouth City Council, the Premier League, The FA, Football Foundation, Sport England and the England and Wales Cricket Board).
After Plymouth City Council and the Argyle Community Trust netted an £880,000 grant from the Football Foundation towards the project, work begun on the site in February 2018.
Mark Lovell, Head of Community at Argyle Community Trust said:
“This space is more than just a place where people play sport, but it will be a place that the community can use at its centre for education and social events.
“The project has involved a great deal of planning and I would like to place on record my sincere thanks to Plymouth City Council and all the partners involved.
“It has been a genuine partnership throughout and a source of huge pride that the facility is now open to the public.
“There is no doubt the Manadon Sports Hub is the largest project ever undertaken by the Trust and a reflection of the progress we have made over the past decade.
“Working in unison with Plymouth City Council and Argyle Community Trust, it is a very special moment seeing the community enjoying this fantastic facility.”
The venue will be open to everybody from schools, small sided football leagues and football development, to private parties, fitness classes, health and wellbeing activities, disability sports, frisbee clubs and community sessions.
Guests at the official opening were given an exclusive tour of the new facility and were able to see school children competing in a football tournament on the 3G pitch as well as players from Plymouth Civil Service and Roborough Cricket Club using the cricket nets.
There was also a surprise appearance from former England footballer and Argyle legend Peter Shilton OBE, who was delighted to be back in the where he secured his first management job with a three-and-a-half-year stay, getting Plymouth Argyle into the playoffs in only his second season.
The Manadon Sports and Community Hub will be one of the best sports facilities in the city and will see the return of many cricket teams able to play within the city boundary after many dedicated spaces disappeared for the sport in Plymouth.
Deputy Council Leader PeterSmith said:
“This fantastic new facility has been years in the planning but absolutely worth the wait.
“It’s not just somewhere to play sport – it’s been designed with the whole community in mind, with spaces for all sorts of physical, health, education and social activities that really bring people together.
“The all-weather pitch has been massively popular and now the main pavilion is open people of all ages and abilities can really start to get the best out of the facilities and sessions on offer. Once the grass pitches and wickets are complete, we will be well on our way to establishing Plymouth’s first cricket and football development hub and bringing cricket home again.
“We’re proud to have worked alongside the Argyle Community Trust to transform what used to be a run-down and underused site into what is, without doubt, one the best sports facilities in the city.”
Devon FA identified the site as a strategic priority to focus on growing football development opportunities within the local area.
By working alongside the partner clubs the aim is to create an additional 13 teams playing at St Peter’s Road over the next five years.
Team growth will primarily focus on youth football and it is projected that female teams will double from five to ten teams.
The sports hub will also be used to deliver coach education by Plymouth YMCA and Devon FA. With an emphasis on coaching opportunities directly supporting the partner clubs and local community it will enable the football coaching workforce to organically grow.
Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said:
“The support of the Premier League, The FA and Government enables the Football Foundation to help improve community sports facilities like this one across the country.
“Their funding has played a key role in delivering The Manadon Sports Hub in Plymouth and I am delighted for everyone associated with the Plymouth City Council and the Argyle Community Trust.
“This is one example we want to make people in Plymouth aware of, that they have the kind of quality pitches and changing rooms that are taken for granted in other counties.
“We will continue to support projects nationwide, but we cannot do this on our own, so we are encouraging organisations in the area to join our movement to deliver quality football facilities for people in Plymouth once and for all.
“Taking part in community sport at any level offers many benefits and rewards, not least the opportunity for people to enjoy themselves and socialise with different members of the community.”
It was also thanks to the support from Sport England who funded £350,000 to help make the project possible. Sport England Property Director, Charles Johnston, said:
“We know people have a better experience of sport when they have good facilities in which to play. That is why we are investing in this excellent project at Manadon Sports Hub to create a multi-sport facility to encourage more people to engage with sport and physical activity.”