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Devil’s delight as grassroots football in Wakefield receives huge boost

Left to right: Matt Handley (Football Development Officer, Sheffield & Hallamshire FA), Mary Creagh MP and Matthew Thompson (Chairman, Durkar Devils JFC) celebrate the funding announcement.
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Mary Creagh, MP for Wakefield, recently helped celebrate a significant investment into grassroots football in West Yorkshire, when she presented local club Durkar Devils JFC with a £99,568 cheque on behalf of the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which provides grants towards developing new or refurbished grassroots football facilities.

Durkar Devils JFC, who currently operate 11 teams, worked alongside the Sheffield and Hallamshire FA in order to secure the £99,568 grant, in order to carry out extensive pitch redevelopment works at their Slack Lane home. The pitches will be levelled, drainage installed and reseeded to accommodate two full-size grass pitches, two junior grass pitches and one grass Mini-Soccer pitch.

Currently, the pitches at the site are prone to waterlogging during winter months, are steeply sloping in areas and some of the field is currently unused for any formal recreation purposes. The improvement works will enable Durkar Devils JFC to grow from 11 to 24 teams over the course of the next five years. This will include the development of an Under-6 team and the creation of a girls’ section, consisting of seven teams.

The Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund is funded by the Premier League, The FA, and the Government, via Sport England. It is delivered by the Football Foundation, the country’s largest sports charity. Since it was launched in 2000, the Football Foundation has awarded around 13,000 grants worth more than £510m towards improving grassroots sport, which it has used to attract additional partnership funding of over £719m – over £1.2bn of investment into the grassroots game.

By providing more high-quality facilities, coupled with coaching at the appropriate age group, the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund aims to improve the experience for regular players as well as attracting new players to the game.

Many of the new state-of-the-art facilities will serve to strengthen the connection between professional football clubs and their local communities, particularly in the most deprived areas of the country, through the professional clubs’ community trusts’ outreach work.

Across the whole of Sheffield and Hallamshire, since 2000, the Football Foundation Funding Partners’ investment has provided 127 grants worth £9.7m towards grassroots sports projects worth over £21.4m.

Durkar Devils JFC also received National Lottery funding from Sport England’s Protecting Playing Fields fund, which provides grants to preserve and improve playing surfaces across the country. The club have been awarded £50,000 from Sport England to help cover the cost of the significant pitch improvement works.

Mary Creagh MP, said: “It was a privilege to present the cheque to Durkar Devils JFC, which will allow their pitches to be extensively redeveloped. I’ve seen just how hard Matthew and members of the club have worked, alongside Sheffield and Hallamshire FA, to get the project to this stage. This facility, once complete, will be of tremendous benefit to both the club and local community in the years ahead and I’d like to thank the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund Fund for their significant investment into Wakefield.”

Matthew Thompson, Durkar Devils JFC Chairamn, said: “We are delighted that the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, Sport England and WREN have combined their resources to support a fantastic new facility for our community. This isn’t just about facilities Durkar Devils JFC needs today; this is about what we can offer the community for years to come in terms of facilities and sporting services. This will be an amazing facility for grassroots football in our community and enable us to grow and provide sporting services to benefit everyone from the football crazy right through to casual users looking to get a bit fit and meet some new friends.” 

Sport England Property Director, Charles Johnston, said: “Playing fields are a vital part of grassroots sport as they are often the place where people have their first experience of sport. Our Protecting Playing Fields fund is making a real difference to community sports clubs up and down the country by supporting one of the most important resources in sport. By protecting and improving playing fields, like those at Durkar Devils JFC, in communities across the country, we’re ensuring people and teams have a place to get active and enjoy sport all year round.”

Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said: “The Football Foundation is responsible for managing and delivering the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which is funded by the Premier League, The FA and the Government, via Sport England. This community facility is an example of the positive impact that this funding is having on our grassroots game. First-class facilities like this are crucial to creating more opportunities for local people to enjoy regular sport. 

“Aided by the Sheffield and Hallamshire FA , Durkar Devils JFC deserve huge credit for securing the necessary funding to deliver this project, using money from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund. It is also great to see local MP Mary Creagh supporting the growth of the grassroots game across Wakefield and thank her for presenting the cheque to Durkar Devils JFC on behalf of the Foundation.”


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