An appeal has been made to the Whitby community to get behind the fundraising effort to help build a 3G pitch at Eskdale School.
Work and plans are progressing, that if successful will see an UEFA standard community 3G pitch being built on the site of the Whitby School.
The facility would provide a full size, floodlit pitch for both curriculum and community use and offer a training and match play facility for local grassroots clubs.
A formal funding application is being worked up by Eskdale School, in partnership with Scarborough Borough Council and with assistance from the Football Foundation and the North Riding FA.
The project working group are also in consultation with North Yorkshire County Council about developing additional changing and ancillary facilities, which will include a community room and catering provision.
The pitch will predominantly have a direct impact on football development, but can also be utilised for rugby training.
Matt Hewison, Scarborough Borough Council’s sports development manager, said: “The playing pitch strategy was a really useful document for us to produce as it provided real strategic guidance and funding support for sports facilities in the Borough.
“The 3G pitch numbers were particularly pleasing, as these were concluded from playing figures, latent demand and also the Football Association’s own facility planning model.”
Hewison continued: “The playing pitch strategy has also assisted other clubs to gain funding, as most playing pitch applications now have to be supported by a Playing Pitch Strategy action.
“The potential Whitby project was something we have always wanted to look at, and it wasn’t until we had fully engaged with the Football Foundation and the North Riding County FA that this was something that could potentially happen.
“We looked at options in terms of the re-surfacing of the existing pitch at Caedmon College, but Sport England would object as it would be to the detriment of the hockey provision at the site.
“Eskdale School already have excellent existing community links and see the real potential in the pitch developing them as a school and a community hub.”
Hewison is excited by the proposals and believes they’d be of huge benefit to the town’s sporting development.
He added: “The facility is an exciting project to be involved with, as I’m fully aware of the positive impact these facilities can have on development.
“Many towns have access to these high-quality surfaces and we all witnessed the impact of the recent bad weather on local fixtures, so a 3G pitch would certainly assist with this aspect also.
“The other benefit of 3G pitches is that they are very adaptable to different formats of the game, up to four mini–games can be played at one time, making volunteer and parent time more effective.
“The development of the potential 3G pitch would be a great asset to both the school and the community of Whitby.
“The facility will provide excellent training and match play opportunities for grassroots clubs and enable them to develop players and coaches.
“The pitch will also provide casual pay and play opportunities for local groups.
“We are working closely with the Football Foundation and the North Riding County FA to complete the relevant application process, but we really need the support of the local community to see this become a reality.
“The overall cost of the facility is in the region of £650–700k and the school, with the support of the community, have committed to raise £60,000 towards the project with other partnership funding coming from Scarborough Borough Council and hopefully via the Football Foundation application.
“This is a great opportunity for Whitby to gain a world class facility and I would just urge the local community to support the school in their efforts with this.”
Sue Whelan, headteacher at Eskdale School, is also backing the plans.
She said: “This is a very exciting opportunity for the community of Whitby and this new facility will hopefully address the issue of quality available facilities in the town.
“The new facility will also hopefully encourage new young participants to sport and improve the health and well – being and social confidence of all involved”.
Allan Burnett, chairman of Fishburn Park FC and the Scarborough & District Saturday League, also welcomed the news.
Burnett said: “I have been involved in local and county football for over 50 years and Whitby as a town has required this facility for a number of years.
“As a club we will give as much support as we can to see it come to fruition.
“I can recall playing and managing on facilities such as Helredale and Larpool, but young players need these high quality facilities to develop, improve and get a better playing quality experience from the game.
“Fishburn Park FC has a long-established reciprocal partnership with the school and as a club we are delighted that this potential project is to be sited on the Eskdale School site.”
The proposal also has the backing of another local football club in Whitby Fishermens FC.
Fishermens secretary Mark Storr said: “As a club we are always looking to develop and improve players and the potential development of a 3G pitch will certainly assist us with our development plans, particularly for our junior sides.
“The quality of grassroots facilities certainly has a big impact on player numbers and this facility will certainly hopefully not just help our club, but also help other people play football on a quality surface.
“As a club we are very excited about this project and will support it fully.”
The current timescales for the project are to submit the application in October 2018 to the Football Foundation with a formal decision due in early 2019.
If successful the facility build would take place in the spring ready for the pitch to be fully operational in September 2019.
In order to build a more substantial business case for the facility, the school would welcome letters of support from sports clubs, community groups and individuals, which can also highlight any potential usage of the facility should it come to fruition.
To find out further details about the potential facility please search Facebook for “Eskdale School 3G” or contact Matt Hewison on 01723 232551 .
If you wish to donate to see this community facility delivered in Whitby, please search Just Giving for “Eskdale School 3G” also.