It’s the birthplace of football – and now Sheffield is at the vanguard of efforts to transform the national sport for amateur players.
A new football complex unveiled on Saturday at St George’s Park Thorncliffe, in High Green, is the latest step in a national drive to improve facilities for the game’s huge grassroots community.
The centre includes two full-size floodlit artificial grass pitches, two natural grass pitches, changing rooms, a café and a coach education room.
It is the second Parklife football hub to open in England, both in Sheffield, as the Football Association seeks to end the misery of waterlogged pitches, icy showers and shoddy changing rooms familiar to generations of amateur players.
The first opened in September at Graves Leisure Centre, Norton, and a third is under construction at the former site of Westfield School in Mosborough.
The Graves and Thorncliffe hubs, run by the council’s leisure contractor Pulse, will host league matches and training for up to five resident partner clubs.
The more durable artificial pitches increase the playing time available to local teams and ensure fewer matches fall victim to Britain’s unpredictable weather.
Coun Mary Lea, Sheffield Council’s cabinet member for sport, said: “This is a very exciting time for football in Sheffield and we are proud to be leading the way on this national scheme with the FA.”
The £3.5 million Parklife hub project in Sheffield is funded by the FA, the Premier League, central government and Sport England, with partnership funding from Sheffield Council.
As well as better facilities, the scheme aims to deliver improved coaching for young players and better support for referees and volunteers.
Mark Coulson, Parklife programme manager at the FA, said: “Parklife marks the start of the FA’s vision to transform the way grassroots football is played in England.”