Seashell Trust’s new floodlit 3G sports pitch was officially opened by Mary Robinson, MP for Cheadle at its Cheadle Hulme campus.
The new full-size pitch was made possible thanks to £500,000 grant from the Premier League and the FA through the Football Foundation together with generous match funding from PZ Cussons..
The all-weather pitch and accessible changing facilities will be able to be used year-round by the students at the Seashell Trust’s Royal School Manchester and Royal College Manchester.
The charity provides a creative, happy and secure environment for children and young people with complex and severe learning disabilities which include little or no language abilities.
It will also be a community football hub with an emphasis on inclusivity and disability football, including the CADS (Children’s Able and Disabled Sports) programme.
Cheadle and Gatley FC will use the pitch as a new home ground bringing 29 teams – total of 750 junior footballers each week – to the site.
In conjunction with the Seashell Trust and Cheshire County FA, the club also aims to create two mixed disability football teams over the next five years.
The facility will also be used by both female and male Stockport County teams for training and matches.
In May, Seashell Trust will host a Cheshire FA disability event with a view to this becoming a monthly event and from September Seashell Trust will be running a weekly disability football coaching and activity session on Monday evenings in conjunction with C&G Elite Coaching.
Plans are in place for the pitch to be a truly multi-sport facility with proposals for use by Manchester Rugby Club and Norbury Lacrosse Club, as well as the possibility of hosting rugby league events.
Jolanta McCall, Seashell CEO and Principal, said: “This project has been a long-term plan in the making, initially developed by members of our Sports Team nearly 10 years ago and now completed thanks to support from the Football Foundation.
“It forms part of a wider planned expansion on our campus and I’m delighted we can offer such high-quality facilities to improve grassroots sport for our children and young people and for our wider community.”
Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said: “Grassroots football provides so many benefits for members of the community, not least the opportunity to enjoy themselves.
“Love for our national game is an integral part of what drives the Foundation and its Funding Partners to keep increasing the standards and quality of our facilities.”