CHANGING rooms worth £700,000 have been officially opened in Portchester.
Dignitaries and representatives from AFC Portchester gathered at the new facilities on Tuesday to unveil a plaque.
The changing rooms at Wicor recreation ground in Portchester have been open since December, although work has just finished on the car park.
The facilities, which include six team changing rooms, officials’ changing rooms, and accessible toilets, will be run by Fareham Borough Council and are available to all teams using the pitches.
The project was a partnership between the council and the Football Foundation, which contributed £231,000.
AFC Portchester was in desperate need of new changing rooms as its last ones had been vandalised.
Council leader Seán Woodward described the old facilities as ‘horrendous’ and ‘some of the worst in the county’.
Cllr Woodward said: ‘The result of this collaborative working is these fantastic new changing rooms, which will benefit the borough’s footballers for generations to come.
‘Today’s opening means together with the new community centre, nearly £2.7m has now been spent on facilities in Portchester.’
Richard Tasker, youth chairman of AFC Portchester, said: ‘It is brilliant. They are state-of-the-art changing rooms.
‘It makes a big difference to us. All the teams who have come here have said how much better they are.’
Mr Tasker also said that the improvements to the car park, including creating 20 new spaces, have been greatly welcomed.
Six adult teams and 33 youth teams play at AFC Portchester on a Saturday morning and all-day Sunday.
They compete in four adult leagues and in four youth leagues.
The new changing rooms mean that AFC Portchester can now enter more leagues and play at a higher level as there are officials’ changing areas.
Paul Thorogood, chief executive of the Football Foundation, said: ‘It’s so rewarding to see this new facility completed and ready for use.
‘There’s a strong correlation between the quality of sports facilities available and healthy participation levels.
‘The better the quality of sports facilities, the more likely people will enjoy the experience of playing sport.’