Thanks to investment from the Premier League, The FA and Government’s Football Foundation, Wickersley Youth FC have powered up their grass pitches at Ruby Cook playing fields, transforming the former local parish council site into a facility the local community can enjoy and be proud of.
After acquiring the site in January 2021, it was evident that investment was required to improve the facilities, which consisted of a changing pavilion and an unmarked football pitch that was suffering from drainage issues and exposed goalmouths.
“We addressed several problems ourselves at the initial stages by filling in holes and repairing the surface damage, but we knew the pitches needed more work,” explained Will Burden, groundsman at Wickersley Youth.
The club was successful in applying for grass pitch maintenance funding from the Football Foundation in 2021 and received a grant of £27,200.
Thanks to the funding, Wickersley Youth were able to transform their site from one pitch to six pitches, which now provide a home to their younger age groups.
The funding also enabled the club to purchase materials such as grass seed, soil, and fertiliser, as well as engage the expertise from grass pitch contractors. More recently the club received a grant of £5,790 towards new maintenance equipment for the site.
Club volunteer Bob Sanderson works closely with the grounds team to keep the pitches in top condition.
Bob said: “Will and I have a great relationship – we’re in touch with each other most days! We discuss the pitch maintenance programme on a weekly basis, decide how we should rotate pitches, and carry out work on the pitches three to four times a week.
“Our ambition is to continue to grow and provide a high-quality experience for people to play football. We may have reached our limits with the football facilities that we have available, but we’re always on the lookout for additional sites for match play and training”.
Picture: Will Burden and Bob Sanderson of Wickersley Youth.
With around 87 percent of affiliated football played on grass pitches, and with one in six matches postponed each year due to poor quality pitches, improving facilities and grass pitches is high up on the agenda at the Sheffield & Hallamshire County FA.
The County FA aims to work with clubs and organisations in the Sheffield and Hallamshire region to invest £10 million of Football Facility Investment by 2024, in order to create 2,000 additional grass match play slots per season.
Sarah Wood, Football Development Manager at the Sheffield & Hallamshire County FA, said: “Many grassroots football clubs tell us that poor grass pitches are their biggest issue. Wickersley Youth FC are a great example of a club who are investing their funds into the right areas and it’s fantastic to see the passion and dedication from the club’s volunteers”.
To start your club’s journey to a better grass pitch, get in touch with us at email@example.com and we’ll support you to carry out a Pitch Power assessment and apply for grass pitch maintenance funding.
For more information on grass pitch investment, visit: https://www.sheffieldfa.com/leagues-and-clubs/facility-development/grass-pitch-improvement