Peter Beardsley

Former Newcastle United and England forward Peter Beardsley cut the ribbon on a new football facility at Walker Technology College on Thursday morning.

Beardsley - who is still at the Club in a Football Development Manager role - was on hand to officially open a new third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch, which will benefit both students and the wider community, and is predicted to be used by more than 1,750 people each week.

Speaking about the event and the grassroots game, Beardsley said: "It is excellent to see this new football facility become available to people studying at Walker Technology College and also those outside the College.

"The floodlit and all-weather elements of the pitch are particularly important because, no matter what the weather is like, it gives the students somewhere to go after classes finish and do something positive.

"It is really important that we continue to invest into the grassroots, not only to create the next crop of England internationals, but also give people who might not become a professional footballer the chance to improve their health, have fun and stay out of trouble. Football has the power to address all these things and much more.

"Since the Football Foundation launched I have been to see a few of the projects they have funded and they are doing a fantastic job. Recently they provided £850,000 to Wallsend Boys' Club, just down the road from here, where I played growing up.

"It is great grassroots clubs and schools have somewhere they can gain help, especially in the tough economic times, and credit goes to the Foundation's funding partners - The FA, Premier League and Government - for proving the crucial cash to make this happen."

Walker Technology College worked in partnership with the Northumberland FA to secure a £102,000 grant from the Football Foundation. Funded by the Premier League, The FA, and the Government (via Sport England), the Football Foundation is the nation's largest sports charity.

Since it was launched in 2000, the Foundation has awarded around 8,000 grants worth more than £420m towards improving grassroots sport, which it has used to attract additional partnership funding of over £520m.

Stuart Elliott, Academy football coach at Walker Technology College, said: "With the help and backing of both the College itself and the Football Foundation, we will now be able to provide a fantastic new football facility, not only for the College students but the whole community."

Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, added: "I commend Walker Technology College and the Northumberland FA for working tirelessly to make this vision become a reality. I would also like to thank Peter Beardsley for supporting the opening event. Peter was not only a brilliantly talented player himself, he has been a great supporter of the Football Foundation and the grassroots game over the years.

"The Football Foundation is dedicated, with funding provided from the Premier League, the FA and government, to raising the standard of grassroots community sports facilities and to getting more people actively playing the national sport."

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