Saturday 28 February 2009 

Geraint Jones On Hand Opens New Community Centre

Geraint Jones MBE – a member of England’s Ashes-winning squad in 2005 – visited Maplesden Noakes School in Kent to officially open a new state-of-the-art sports site.

Geraint, who is still wicket-keeping with Kent County Cricket Club, officially unveiled a full size (110m x 74m) 3rd generation artificial grass pitch (AGP) that is suitable for football and curriculum level hockey, along with a new sports hall designed for cricket and to be used by Maidstone Cricket Academy. The sports hall also houses changing rooms, an education room and a fitness room.

Geraint Jones cuts the tape
Geraint Jones (right) does the honours at Maplesden Noakes School

A £704,438 grant from the Football Foundation, the UK’s largest sports charity, has gone towards building the facilities that will benefit pupils and the local Maidstone community alike.
 
There are very few AGPs in the Maidstone area. Those that are within the immediate catchment area of the School are primarily for hockey usage rather than football. There is no 3rd generation AGP within a ten-mile radius of the School. Existing sporting provision at the school is inadequate to meet the demand for community use from local football clubs and the wider community. The school’s previous changing facilities were in a poor condition and required modernisation.
 
This facility project will build on the existing good links the school has with a number of local clubs to deliver a range of player, coach and referee development to tie in with many FA and Football Foundation initiatives that are in operation at the school and in the community as a whole.
 
The football development plan that the school produced as part of the application to the Football Foundation for funding provides for significant usage by other local primary and secondary schools and will enhance strong partnerships with Kent County Council, Maidstone Borough Council and Kent CFA. The school will also work with the Safer Maidstone Partnership to help tackle its priority areas of anti social behaviour, young people as victims and offenders, substance abuse, domestic violence and hate crime. The project will also link with Club Connect, a local group that works with young disabled people, to provide enhanced opportunities to this group of children.

The Football Foundation is dedicated to revitalising the grass roots of the game, constructing modern football facilities, developing football as a force for social cohesion and as a vehicle for education in communities throughout the country. Funded by the Premier League, The Football Association and the Government, the Football Foundation is the nation’s largest sports charity with a £40m budget going straight into the heart of football.

Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation said: “The new sports facilities will increase both the quality of sporting experience that Maplesden Noakes School pupils enjoy and the opportunities that local people have to play football and other sports.

"I am delighted that England’s 2005 Ashes winner Geraint Jones MBE is unveiling the new site. Maplesden Noakes School, the Kent County FA and all of the other key partners deserve immense credit for their hard work in making this happen.”

Jane Prideaux, Headteacher at Maplesden Noakes School, said: “We are absolutely delighted with our new facilities and would like to take this opportunity to thank the Football Foundation for their generous support. The facilities will provide exceptional opportunities for the school and local community.”