A new £500,000 all-weather football pitch was officially opened in Hemel Hempstead on Tuesday by Watford star Tom Cleverley and Watford Ladies’ Charlotte Kerr.
The Hornets midfielders were the guests of honour at the unveiling ceremony at The Hemel Hempstead School, in Heath Lane, on Tuesday afternoon.
The project has been made possible thanks to a generous grant of £461,877 from the Premier League and The FA Facilities Fund, which was delivered via the Football Foundation.
The grant has enabled the school to replace their existing grass pitch with a new third-generation (3G) artificial grass pitch.
The new facility, which will also help to meet the demand locally for all-weather playing surfaces, will be used by the school as well as partner clubs Hemel Aces FC and Hemel Hempstead Town Youth FC.
Watford FC’s Community Sports and Education Trust will also use the pitch to deliver their community outreach programmes.
Kerr, who has been with Watford Ladies since she was 14 years old, said: “I wish I had access to a facility like this while I was at school!
“This new all-weather pitch is really fantastic and I’d like to thank them for inviting me to help open it.”
Sarah Lewis, football development officer for The Hemel Hempstead School, added: “We are delighted to have the pitch officially open and see it being used by so many young players.”
The facility is expected to help launch 29 new teams across the partner clubs – a 128 per cent increase in overall football participation.
Since 2000 the Football Foundation funding partners’ investment has provided 201 grants worth £10.8 million towards grassroots sports projects in Hertfordshire, which have helped to generate projects worth more than £19.4m across the county, the foundation said.
Paul Thorogood, chief executive of the foundation, said: “These facilities are more than places to play football at, these facilities are hubs of physical activity, the bedrock of local communities and ‘homes from home’ for so many who also use them as social outlets to learn new skills, gain work experience and other qualifications.”