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England Manager Gareth Southgate

We had the privilege to meet the England Manager Gareth Southgate at Burton Albion yesterday.

Gareth Southgate officially opened the new Burton Albion Community Trust All-weather 3G playing surface today (February 14th).


The former England defender, and now manager, was on hand to unveil the state of the art facility located adjacent to the Pirelli Stadium.


On opening the new facility in an interview with Burton Albion, Southgate, said: “Throughout my career I’ve always been a big supporter of the grassroots game, and state-of-the-art facilities like this one are its lifeblood. Floodlit all-weather pitches allow football to be played all-year-round, irrespective of the weather. This means more people, more often, taking part in the sport. 


“As a professional, I have been lucky enough to train, play and coach on some of the best facilities in the country. I believe that those who train, play or coach at the grassroots level should be afforded the same experience. That means building facilities like this one right across the country, something the Football Foundation continues to do, expertly.  


“The Small Sided Game, which was helped by a £1.5m commitment delivered by the Football Foundation, was something I helped to drive when I was The FA’s Head of Elite Development. That scheme, which I’m delighted to see being catered for here, allows younger players to play on smaller pitches, with smaller goals. It is designed to develop an individual’s skills, rather than reward children based on their physical strength.


“The FA, along with the Premier League and Government deserve credit for working together to invest into improving grassroots facilities. This stunning facility at Burton is just one example of thousands across the country through the Football Foundation.


“It makes a massive difference in driving up participation in our national game. And ultimately all future England players – whether it is the women’s teams, disability teams, youth teams or indeed in the senior men’s team – all of them will start out and develop their skills in the grassroots game, and on grassroots facilities. So whether for pure enjoyment or for supporting the development of home-grown talent, the more of these fantastic sites we see built, the better.”


As part of the morning, local secondary schools were invited to take part in a special Girls Football event which allowed local footballers to showcase their skills in front of the England Manager.


Mr Burrows, PE Technician, took a handful of U13 Girls to take part in the event. He said: "It was great to be a part of the official opening of this fantastic facility that we have on our doorstep. Our girls teams have been lucky to have used this facility over the last few weeks in local tournaments and league games and have thoroughly enjoyed playing on a state of the art pitch. Gareth Southgate was fantastic on the morning and interacted with all of the girls and they even got to take home a signed T-shirt at the end so it was great as well for them to leave with something to remember the occasion by."


"We have students across KS3 and KS4 who play for local sports teams such as Outwoods FC and Stretton Eagles and they are full of praise for the facility. In winter months it becomes extremely hard to train on grass pitches and the darker evenings so by using the 3G pitch allows for some continuity and ultimately the chance to keep playing."


"Having worked for the Community Trust for 3 years and now on a voluntary basis, I have seen first hand the amount of planning and hard work that has gone into making the Trust as successful as it is now. Without the hard work of people such as Andy Taylor, Matt Hancock and also the support of the club chairman Ben Robinson, then the Trust would not be where it is today. There is a fantastic workforce as well that deliver projects across the town across their 5 main themes. The success that the club has had on and off the pitch in recent times has been phenomenal; and long may that continue."