England star Jamie Vardy has hailed the opening of The FA’s multi-pitch community football hubs in his home city of Sheffield.
The ground-breaking Parklife project has seen two facilities recently open in the north and south of the city with a formal launch to follow at the end of October.
Jointly funded by The FA, Sheffield City Council and the Department for Culture Media and Sport in partnership with Sport England, the centres will serve as focal points for grassroots football activity in the local area.
And reflecting on his own football upbringing, Leicester City striker Vardy has welcomed the new additions to South Yorkshire.
“As a kid, I used to have to play on either the bumpy pitches in Hillsborough Park or the concrete outside the Leppings Lanes End at Sheffield Wednesday,” said Vardy.
“I would have loved to have had a facility like the SGP hubs and it’s great to see that future young footballers in Sheffield will have the opportunity to play on top quality surfaces all year round.
“Sheffield is a football-mad city so anything that helps to encourage that love for the game is a good thing.”
Further hubs are planned in the city, with planning applications being considered for similar hubs in Liverpool and west London. The Premier League has also committed funding to support the roll out of future hubs.
"Make no mistake, these hubs are the start of something big," said Martin Glenn, The FA’s chief executive.
"The Sheffield centres mark the beginning of the end of a story all-too-familiar to the grassroots footballer of poor pitches, woefully inadequate changing facilities and a battle against the elements to get fixtures completed each winter.
"The FA alongside the DCMS, the Premier League and local partners will be investing £200m to replicate this model across the country with momentum already starting to grow."