It was the round ball that took centre stage in the Rugby League stronghold of Castleford as World Cup winner Sir Geoff Hurst and local MP Yvette Cooper paid a visit to toast a double celebration in grassroots football.
The pair were on hand to deliver a £375,000 cheque from the Premier League and FA Facilities Fund to Castleford Academy to build a new state-of-the-art artificial grass pitch at the school.
Castleford Academy are benefiting from this, the latest fund managed by the Football Foundation to improve facilities within communities. The cash will contribute to the construction of a full-size all-weather floodlit pitch which will complement the existing sports facilities and expand the number of opportunities for the local community to access high level sporting facilities.
The launch event also included players and coaches from FA Charter Standard Development Club of the year 2014, Castleford White Rose, who will play matches at the venue once completed in the Summer of 2015.
Yvette Cooper said: ““I’m really pleased that the FA are investing in new facilities at Castleford Academy. And great that this will help get more girls into football too. Castleford White Rose FC already do a brilliant job of getting girls to play and enjoy the sport - so this is a great chance for the Club and the school to benefit”
Sir Geoff, who in his role as McDonald’s Director of Football is leading the search to find this year’s grassroots heroes said: “It is my absolute privilege to see the work of Castleford White Rose. The club exemplifies all that is great about the grassroots game and I can see why they impressed the judges so much.
“In every corner of the country we are discovering examples of true grassroots heroes. All are winners in their own right, so the judges face a very difficult challenge to decide those that deserve the highest recognition. It is always tough and I expect nothing less this year.”
With the new facility at Castleford Academy providing a part time home for White Rose, other local football clubs such as Castleford Town FC are also set to benefit from the development.
George Panayiotou, Headteacher of Castleford Academy said: “We are delighted to have received such a large sum of funding to help get this project off the ground. The world class facility will add real value to the school and the local community. The launch event at the Academy was a real success and to have such a prestigious guest in the form of Sir Geoff Hurst visiting the school is a great honour.”
You can nominate your local grassroots hero by visiting the West Riding County FA website at www.wrcfa.com