Exeter City FC manager and Hartpury University graduate Matt Taylor has officially opened a new floodlit state-of-the-art third generation (3G) artificial grass football pitch (AGP) at Hartpury.
The new pitch was made possible thanks to investment from the Premier League, The FA and Government's Football Foundation, as well as a significant contribution from Hartpury.
After netting a £340,162 grant from the Football Foundation, work began on the site in June 2019.
The new facility replaces an old 3G pitch that was 16 years old and had reached the end of its operational life.
The provision of the new pitch will enable Hartpury University and Hartpury College – based alongside one another on the same state-of-the-art 360-hectare campus – to offer a facility that is fit for purpose and meets FIFA’s quality criteria.
Students and student athletes will all benefit from the new facility, using it to train, perform and learn in an advanced educational environment.
Partner clubs Ashleworth Woodpeckers FC, Redmarley Youth FC and Gloucester City Youth FC will all use the new pitch for training and match play across all age groups.
With the overall aim of developing an additional 41 teams at the site over the next five years, most of these teams will come from the partner clubs and through Hartpury College and Hartpury University teams.
Matt Taylor, who studied a MSc Coaching Science degree and was also the Senior Football Manager at Hartpury said: “I’m really proud to have officially opened the new 3G football pitch at Hartpury.
“It’s an outstanding addition to a range of excellent facilities at Hartpury and I’m sure it will be of huge benefit to Hartpury’s students and its partner clubs.
“The sports facilities were already of a very high standard when I worked and studied at Hartpury, but they’ve reached another level now thanks to the ongoing investment that’s being made in them.
“Opening the new 3G football pitch demonstrates Hartpury’s desire to keep raising the bar for the benefit of its students and to maintain and further enhance its reputation as a centre of sporting excellence.”
Hartpury football alumni include Ghana internationals Abdul Majeed Waris, who was Hartpury’s first graduate to play in a World Cup, and David Accam, who was Hartpury’s first graduate to play in the Champions League.
As well as top-level coaching and exceptional sports facilities, students at Hartpury have access to performance services that can include physiotherapy, sports psychology, nutrition advice, lifestyle support, and strength and conditioning.
Hartpury has also been officially accredited by the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS) for leading the way in how it supports talented athletes in education in England.
Russell Marchant, Vice-Chancellor of Hartpury University and Principal of Hartpury College, said: “We’d like to say a big thank-you to Matt Taylor for sparing his valuable time as manager of Exeter City FC to open this fantastic new facility, which has been made possible thanks to investment from the Football Foundation charity which is funded by the Premier League, The FA and the Government via Sport England.
“The new full-size floodlit 3G pitch with integrated video analysis equipment further underlines our commitment and determination to ensuring our students and staff can benefit from the very latest technology across campus to help them achieve their ambitions and fulfil their potential.
“We’re very proud of our strong links with community partners, sports clubs and organisations and we’re absolutely delighted that they will all benefit from this new facility.”
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 this new all-weather pitch in Gloucestershire and I am delighted for everyone associated with Hartpury College and Hartpury University.
“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 Gloucestershire 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.”
Picture: Students from Hartpury’s Men’s and Women’s Football Academies with (second left) Scott Milne, Senior Football Development Officer at the Gloucestershire Football Association, (middle) Hartpury University graduate and Exeter City FC manager Matt Taylor and (second right) Hartpury University Vice-Chancellor and Hartpury College Principal Russell Marchant