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Lord Pendry opens new grassroots football facility in St Helens

Earlestown Athletic Junior Football Club (EAJFC) in Newton-le-Willows opened its gates to a number of VIPs on 17th June, at a ceremony to commemorate five years' worth of improvement works.

Joined by former Premier League referee, Chris Foy and MP for St Helens North, Conor McGinn, the new facilities were officially opened by Lord Pendry, President of the Football Foundation. Nicknamed 'The Hive' because of the club's yellow and black colours, it will be the permanent home of Earlestown Athletic as well as hosting local schools and community groups for training and matches.

The works, which included draining and levelling the ground for the installation of three new junior pitches, will go a long way to ensuring high quality training can be provided to all members of EAJFC's teams. Other improvements were made to the club's car park and entrance gates, as well as the kitchen, toilet facilities and safety netting.

Cory Environmental Trust in Britain (CETB) provided £72,167 to help create a safe space for the 8,000 matches set to be played at the club each year. Angela Haymonds, CETB Trust Secretary, said: "This is an exciting project to increase participation in football within the community. The Trustees were delighted to get on board, and are glad to see that already the new pitches are being put to good use."

Alan Syddall, Club Development Manager of EAJFC, said: "The Hive will provide much-needed quality football pitches for our players to develop and enjoy the game.

"EAJFC believes that teaching players the basics of the game at an early age helps them to become healthier and more respectful individuals. This is easier to deliver through improved grassroots facilities."

On the new facility, Lord Pendry commented: "I was delighted to officially open the new football pitches for Earlestown Athletic JFC. This facility will not only improve the training experience for the club, but will be of use to the local community as well. Grassroots sports have many benefits, and bringing communities together is just one of them."