Jill Scott MBE opens Football Foundation funded pitch named in her honour

Ruth Mauricein Football

Jill Scott MBE and the Premier League, The FA and Government's Football Foundation officially opened the Jill Scott Pitch at Perth Green, Jarrow, today and celebrates the Football Foundation's biggest ever commitment to delivering facilities that provide equal access to women and girls playing football.

Jill Scott

This year, more money than ever will be delivered by the Football Foundation into facilities across the country to create more and better places to play for everyone.

23 of these sites across England will be named after each of the Lionesses who roared their way to success at the UEFA Women's EUROs 2022 and inspired a nation to get down to their local pitch, some for the first time.

Jill Scott MBE said: "It's an absolute honour to have a site that will be used by so many people in the local community named after me! Winning the Women's EUROS was incredibly special and I hope, thanks to this recognition and funding from The Premier League, The FA and Government's Football Foundation, this pitch will benefit Lionesses of the future."

Robert Sullivan, CEO of the Football Foundation, said: "We are committed to improving the experience of playing football for everyone and thanks to investment from The Premier League, The FA and Government, the Football Foundation is directing more funding into projects all of which will offer equal access to play for women and girls.

"At the end of the last academic year, there were over 100,000 more girls playing football and since the Lionesses' glory last summer we are seeing even more girls are lacing up their boots!

"Over 8,500 female football teams are playing at sites that have received funding from the Football Foundation, whether that be for new goalposts, improved grass pitches or brand-new changing pavilions and 3G pitches. But we know there is more to do if we're going to meet this rising demand, which is why we are here today with Jill to make that commitment - and inspire all those who saw their win to get down to their local pitch."

Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Lucy Frazer said: "I'm delighted we are honouring Jill and the entire 23 woman squad as part of our £300 million investment in grassroots multi-sport pitches.

"The Lionesses thrilled the nation with their historic Euros victory, delivering the nation's first major tournament win in more than 50 years. They have inspired a generation of women and girls to believe they too can achieve their dreams."

Premier League Head of Community Nick Perchard said: "The Premier League is committed to developing the game at all levels and we are investing more than ever before into women's and girls' football, from the WSL to grassroots.

"This includes work in partnership with The FA to develop pathways for young players, improving facilities and developing greater workforce pathways for women and girls.

"We are delighted to see our funding going towards new pitches honouring the Lionesses, bringing together state-of-the-art facilities with inspirational role models to get more girls playing the game."

The FA's Director of Women's Football, Sue Campbell, said: "The England women's team changed the landscape for the women's and girls' game when they lifted the UEFA Women's EURO 2022 trophy last year. The success of the team wasn't just about lifting the trophy, it was also about changing the path for women and girls who want to or currently play football up and down the country.

"By 2024 The FA want to see 5,000 good-quality pitches added to the current number. With the Football Foundation, we are prioritising the areas and communities where these new pitches are most needed. This project allows us to provide more opportunities for people to play football across the region. Jill Scott has had an incredible career and no doubt inspired many people in her hometown to take up the game, so I'm sure 'The Jill Scott pitch' will be extremely popular."

The new floodlit 3G football turf pitch at Perth Green Community Centre in Jarrow, South Tyneside is just five miles from Jill's hometown of Sunderland and was made possible thanks to a £500,000 grant from the Football Foundation.

The pitch will support the growth of female, disability and recreational football in the local area and will be home to partner clubs Jarrow Town Youth, Jarrow Town Seniors, The Foundation of Light and Boldon CA Girls, who Jill played for as a youngster, and will utilise the site for their female development.

Kevin Mullen Trustee Perth Green Community Association said: "The pitch here at Perth Green Community Association will be used by local teams to increase their offering to women and girls including Jarrow FC and Boldon Girls who Jill played for as a youngster!"

The Lionesses are a great showcase of how quality grassroots facilities can contribute to the elite game, as over two-thirds of the England's squad at the UEFA Women's EUROS 2022, including Ella Toone, Leah Williamson and Lucy Bronze, learnt their trade on facilities funded by the Football Foundation.

The Jill Scott Pitch is the first site to be unveiled with Millie Bright, Rachel Daly, Lotte Wubben-Moy and Ella Toone joining her later this year and further announcements to come in 2024. All the facilities will be in and around the Lionesses' hometowns or places that shaped their footballing careers.

Find out more about the Football Foundations commitment to women and girls football here.