Mar 15 2011 By Tara Brady
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A NEW artificial grass pitch has been unveiled at a Wembley school by the Football Association's new chairman, David Bernstein.
In the shadow of Wembley Stadium, home to the FA, pupils from Ark Academy took part in training sessions to mark the special occasion on Monday (Mar 14) which were led by community coaches from Queen's Park Rangers (QPR) Football Club.
Mr Bernstein even showed some of his own football skills by dribbling a football around some training cones.
He said: "The Ark Academy is a truly wonderful complex. I know these facilities will provide a first class environment for local children and young adults to fulfil their potential. The Ark Academy, on the doorstep of Wembley Stadium, is a beacon of what our National Game Strategy is working hard to achieve."
The pitch was made possible thanks to a Football Foundation grant of £229,136. Funded by the Premier League, the FA and Sport England, Football Foundation is the nation's largest sports charity.
Launched in July 2000, the Foundation has so far supported around 8,000 community sports projects worth £945 million.
Paul Thorogood, chief executive of the Football Foundation, said: "On behalf of everyone at the Football Foundation, I would like to commend the Ark Academy, Brent Council and the Middlesex County FA for all the hard work that was invested into securing the grant.
"The ARK Academy is a prime example of how the Football Foundation is working alongside the FA to deliver state-of-the-art facilities for local people."
The pitch will be used for all types of sport and not just football. It is hoped to
become a venue for tournaments and matches between nearby teams and schools. In addition, the new pitch will become the training ground for local football team, AFC Wembley.
Delia Smith, principal of Ark Academy, said: "Today is a fabulous day to recognise this wonderful facility at the heart of Ark Academy with the inspirational arc of Wembley in the background.
"We would like to thank the Football Foundation and their funders The FA, Premier League and Government, for supporting this project. The students are thrilled with the pitch and along with the local community will benefit enormously from its presence."
The Ark Academy opened in September 2010 admitting 180 year seven pupils. The academy, which has specialist status in mathematics and citizenship, is mixed, non-denominational and when fully open will take pupils from age three to 18.