Penalty shoot out is spot on for opening of pitch
FOOTBALL legend Luther Blissett took a penalty shot to declare a new state-of-the-art football facility open.
The former Watford and AC Milan striker scored in front of crowds who had turned out to see BerkoAstro officially put into play on Saturday.
At the event chairman of the Football Foundation Clive Sherling was full of praise for the community of Berkhamsted.
He said: “I want to congratulate Ashlyns School, the Hertfordshire County FA and all of the stakeholders for their hard work and endeavour in seeing this project through to the end.
“This community stands out with the money raised – not many who receive grants from the Football Foundation are able to see projects through.”
The foundation gave £255,000 to the project, based within the grounds of Berkhamsted’s Ashlyns School, with £45,000 coming from the FA.
To complete the £600,000 pitch the school and Berkhamsted Raiders Football Club worked together to raise the additional money.
The football facility was launched in memory of Ashlyns School student Nick Walsh, 17, who died suddenly from a brain haemorrhage in 2007 and former Berkhamsted Raiders chairman Paul Beard. The 43-year-old collapsed and died while exercising at his work’s gym in January 2009.
Following Luther Blissett’s penalty, Nick’s father Tom scored one of the first goals on the new pitch.
Current Berkhamsted Raiders chairman Keith Pollard paid tribute to Mr Beard. “Paul Beard was the original driving force behind the project, a really great sportsman,” he said.
The new floodlit 3G artificial turf pitch has been in used for a few weeks with estimates already suggesting more than 1,000 people are playing on the surface on a weekly basis.
It is the first phase of larger plans to form a sporting centre named after Mr Beard, who inspired many young people to participate in sport.
Mr Beard’s mother Mary Beard said: “It was Paul’s dream, he’d be so pleased to see it today.”
Headteacher at Ashlyns School James Shapland said: “I am delighted that so many people in the local area will be able to enjoy a truly first class sporting experience.
“The whole project bears testimony to what we can achieve when people work together with a collective sense of purpose and ambition.”
As well as the official opening of the pitch, a team of Ashlyns students played against a selection of teachers, winning 5-1.
Herts FA chief executive Nick Perchard said: “I’m delighted that a state-of-the art artificial pitch has been built through the hard work of everyone at Ashlyns School and Berkhamsted Raiders.
“Over the past six months there has been a lot of discussion about the quality of players this country is producing. Only through the provision of training facilities like this will we begin to tackle that issue.
“I congratulate everyone involved in the development of this project and thank the Football Foundation for supporting the project financially.”
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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