Grassroots football in Sheffield is set to be transformed with two new sport and leisure hubs funded by the FA, the Premier League and Sheffield Council.
Two £6.8million football hubs are set to open in April – one at Graves Leisure Centre and the other at Thorncliffe Leisure Centre in High Green.
The Sheffield Parklife project involves the construction of several 3G pitches as well as new changing rooms and training facilities at both sites.
The FA says the scheme is a pilot for better grassroots facilities that if successful could be rolled out across the country.
FA chairman Greg Dyke said: “We all know grass roots facilities in this country are not good enough.
“Financial pressure on local authorities means it’s increasingly difficult for them to maintain, and there has to be another model. That’s what we’re trying here, to see if it works.
“For the future young footballers of Sheffield, which is the birthplace of football, it’s great and even if it the scheme doesn’t work, Sheffield has the facilities.
“We know we need better facilities everywhere. We know that if you look at Germany, Holland and France they have all got better all-weather pitches than we’ve got, and many more of them.
“We need that. In the end we hope that’s part of the process to get a better England team that will win tournaments. But even if we don’t win tournaments, it’s important that we have better grass roots facilities.”
The Sheffield Parklife project is funded by The FA, Sheffield City Council and Department for Culture Media and Sport in partnership with Sport England.
The centres are the first of up to 150 set to be built nationwide if the pilot works.
Both sites will also incorporate swimming pools, gyms and health and research facilities as part of the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine.
Sheffield Council cabinet member for sport Isobel Bowler said: “What’s great about this partnership with the FA is that it enables us to upgrade facilities across Sheffield and really transform the experience for young players.
“We are so grateful that they chose Sheffield to be the first place to try this.
“It’s all coming to fruition and these facilities will be open for next season.
“It will mean young players can really get into the game and enjoy playing.”