Seashell Trust’s new floodlit 3G sports pitch was officially opened by Mary Robinson, MP for Cheadle at its Stanley Road campus in Stockport.
The new full-size pitch was made possible thanks to £500,000 grant from the Premier League and The FA through the Government’s Football Foundation together with generous match funding from PZ Cussons.
It is part of a wider redevelopment at the Cheadle Hulme charity. The new all-weather pitch and accessible changing facilities will provide year-round activity opportunities for the disabled children and young people attending 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 attendees at CADS (Children’s Able and Disabled Sports) programme, greatly enhancing the healthy lifestyle and sporting possibilities of many young people with complex and severe learning disabilities.
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 aim 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 match purposes.
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 local Rugby Union teams (Manchester Rugby Club), the Norbury Lacrosse Club, as well as the possibility of hosting Rugby League events as part of the newly launched Super League “Learning Disability Rugby League” project
Jolanta McCall, CEO and Principal of the Seashell Trust, 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 that 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 sport plays an important role in communities across the UK, creating opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds. That is why I am delighted that Seashell Trust has now opened their state-of-the-art 3G sports pitch in Cheadle Hulme, thanks to investment from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund.
“Grassroots football provides so many benefits for members of the community, not least of which is the opportunity to enjoy themselves. Love for our national game, something that can be found across the country, is an integral part of what drives the Foundation and its Funding Partners to keep increasing the standards and quality of our facilities.”