Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Black Cats Star Opens PS615,000 Field of Dreams

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Black Cats Star Opens PS615,000 Field of Dreams

Article excerpt

SUNDERLAND striker Duncan Watmore stressed the importance of all-weather facilities in the development of the next generation of footballers after opening a school's impressive new PS615,000 3G pitch.

The exciting England Under-21 cap, who marked his return from injury with the third goal in the Black Cats' 3-0 victory last Saturday, recalled training on "quagmires" as a youngster while coming through the ranks at Manchester United and Altrincham.

The difference made by allweather, state-of-the-art surfaces such as the new facilities at St John's School and Sixth Form College in Bishop Auckland, County Durham can't be underestimated, said the 22-year-old forward.

Watmore, an ambassador for the Football Foundation which helped deliver the project, said: "I'm thrilled to have played a small part by opening their new pitch for them - you can't help but be impressed by it.

"Not so long ago, I was playing at the lower levels of the game and I can tell you that having access to quality facilities, just like this one, makes all the difference when you are trying to improve as a player.

"The beauty of floodlit 3G pitches is that they don't get waterlogged and you can play on them through the dark evenings. I remember trying to train on some real quagmire natural grass pitches and then having to finish the session early because it got too dark!" The project benefited from a PS214,950 grant from the Premier League and the FA Facilities Fund.

The Football Foundation worked with St John's School and the Durham FA to produce a five-year football development plan. The main partner clubs on site are St Mary's JFC and Escomb JFC. Watmore, who signed a four-year contract with the Black Cats in November last year, added: "It's not just the school who will benefit from this new pitch but the wider community, including St Mary's JFC who will be able to run an extra 15 teams, including two disability sides - testament to the fact that this is a pitch for everyone to enjoy and become healthier as a result. …

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