Basingstoke MP Maria Miller visited the new Winklebury Football Complex, the Hampshire FA’s new headquarters, to learn more about the new facility and how the FA and Hampshire County FA investments are widening grassroots participation in football and improving facilities in the local area. Cllr Simon Bound, Deputy Leader of Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, and Cabinet Member for Communities, Culture and Partnership, also attended.
Maria was able to see the new artificial 3G pitch which is currently being constructed at the complex. It will provide a state of the art facility for footballers locally, which will be available year round, from 9.00am to 10.00pm, seven days a week.
Maria, who is also Chair of the House of Commons Women and Equalities Select Committee, took the opportunity to find out more about the work that the FA and Hampshire FA are doing to increase diversity and inclusion in local grassroots football. At a national level the FA’s Game Plan for Growth initiative aims to double girls’ and women’s participation in football by 2020.
In recognition of her support for the grassroots game in Basingstoke, Maria was awarded the FA’s “Grassroots Champion” award by Neil Cassar, CEO of Hampshire FA.
The visit was also part of the #FootballFootprint Campaign which is being run by the FA, in conjunction with local County FAs, to give MPs an opportunity to meet with the army of staff and volunteers that make grassroots football possible at a local level and to visit showcase sites, initiatives and matches.
Maria said: “The new 3G pitch will be a fantastic local facility for footballers of all ages and abilities - including women’s and girls’ teams, youth teams, and Walking Football teams. The hugely increased availability means that many more people will be able to get involved with the sport, which is great news.”
“I was also really interested to hear about the work Hampshire FA and The FA are doing to ensure that grassroots football is as inclusive as possible. It is absolutely vital that we create a diverse and welcoming game that works for all players.”
Neil Cassar, CEO of Hampshire FA said: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to show Maria our new facility in Winklebury and to update her on the great work being done locally to support diversity and inclusion in grassroots football. We’ve now got 40 Respect Leagues running throughout the County and our committed staff and volunteers do fantastic work to ensure the local game happens week in and week out and is accessible for everyone. It’s great that The FA’s #FootballFootprint Campaign champions their efforts.”