Plymouth’s new Manadon Sports and Community Hub was officially opened today in a special event attended by local and national footballing legend Peter Shilton.
The multi-million-pound facility is expected to help 30,000 people take part in physical activity every year and includes a much needed space for the local community.
It boasts a floodlit third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch, two grass football pitches, an artificial cricket wicket, eight grass wickets and a four-team changing pavilion.
The hub was made possible thanks to investment from Argyle Community Trust, the Council, the Premier League, The FA, Football Foundation, Sport England and the England and Wales Cricket Board.
We and the trust netted an £880,000 grant from the Football Foundation to build the new hub on the site of the former Ministry of Defence pitches on St Peter’s Road. It is set to become an integral venue for community sport in the local area.
Mark Lovell, Head of Community at Argyle Community Trust, said: “This space is more than just a place where people play sport, but it will be a place that the community can use at its centre for education and social events.
“The project has involved a great deal of planning and I would like to place on record my sincere thanks to Plymouth City Council and all the partners involved.
“It has been a genuine partnership throughout and a source of huge pride that the facility is now open to the public. There is no doubt the Manadon Sports Hub is the largest project ever undertaken by the Trust and a reflection of the progress we have made over the past decade.
“Working in unison with Plymouth City Council and Argyle Community Trust, it is a very special moment seeing the community enjoying this fantastic facility.”
The venue is open to everyone – from schools, small-sided football leagues and football development clubs to private parties, fitness classes, health and wellbeing activities and community events, as well as disability sports.
Guests at the official opening were given an exclusive tour of the new facility and saw school children competing in a football tournament on the 3G pitch, as well as players from Plymouth Civil Service and Roborough cricket club using the new cricket nets.
There was also a surprise appearance from former England footballer and Plymouth Argyle legend Peter Shilton who was delighted to be back in the city, where he secured his first management job with a three-and-a-half-year stay, getting Argyle into the playoffs in only his second season.
The Manadon Sports and Community Hub will be one of the best sports facilities in the city and will enable local cricket teams to return to the city after many dedicated spaces for the sport disappeared.
Deputy Council Leader Peter Smith said: “This fantastic new facility has been years in the planning but absolutely worth the wait.
“It’s not just somewhere to play sport – it’s been designed with the whole community in mind, with spaces for all sorts of physical, health, education and social activities that really bring people together.
“The all-weather pitch has been massively popular and now the main pavilion is open people of all ages and abilities can really start to get the best out of the facilities and sessions on offer. Once the grass pitches and wickets are complete, we will be well on our way to establishing Plymouth’s first cricket and football development hub and bringing cricket home again.
“We’re proud to have worked alongside the Argyle Community Trust to transform what used to be a run-down and underused site into what is, without doubt, one the best sports facilities in the city.”
Partner clubs Kitto All Saints, YMCA All Saints, SB Frankfort and Plymouth Parkway FC all play at the Manadon hub and the new facilities will provide them with improved all-year round access for training and match play. YMCA All Saints are also a FA Charter Standard Community Club and will be able to deliver football sessions at the site for people with learning difficulties such as autism and ADHD.
Devon FA identified Manadon as a strategic priority site to focus on growing football development opportunities within the local area. By working alongside the partner clubs the aim is to create an additional 13 teams playing at St Peter’s Road over the next five years. Team growth will primarily focus on youth football and it is projected that the number of female teams will double from five to 10.
The sports hub will also be used to deliver coach education by Plymouth YMCA and Devon FA. With an emphasis on coaching opportunities directly supporting the partner clubs and local community it will enable the football coaching workforce to organically grow.
Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said: “The support of the Premier League, The FA and Government enables the Football Foundation to help improve community sports facilities like this one across the country. Their funding has played a key role in delivering the Manadon Sports Hub in Plymouth and I am delighted for everyone associated with the Plymouth City Council and the Argyle Community Trust.
“This is one example we want to make people in Plymouth aware of, that they have the kind of quality pitches and changing rooms that are taken for granted in other counties. We will continue to support projects nationwide, but we cannot do this on our own, so we are encouraging organisations in the area to join our movement to deliver quality football facilities for people in Plymouth once and for all.
“Taking part in community sport at any level offers many benefits and rewards, not least the opportunity for people to enjoy themselves and socialise with different members of the community.”
Sport England also provided £350,000 to help make the project possible.
Sport England Property Director, Charles Johnston, said: “We know people have a better experience of sport when they have good facilities in which to play. That is why we are investing in this excellent project at Manadon Sports Hub to create a multi-sport facility to encourage more people to engage with sport and physical activity.”