Horndean Technology College unveils new 3G artificial pitch opened by Portsmouth FC players Kieron Freeman and George Hirst

THEY used to play on grass.

Saturday, 25th September 2021, 4:55 am
Pompey's Kieron Freeman and George Hirst with Horndean College team Picture: Habibur Rahman

So went the name of the novel written by Terry Venables in 1970, then a player at Queens Park Rangers and long before he went on to manage Barcelona and the England football team.

The book predicted the end of grass as a playing surface, and that plastic pitches would become the norm.

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George Hirst signs shirts and shoes on the new pitch Picture Habibur Rahman

The pupils of Horndean Technology College and the surrounding sport-loving community still do play on grass - but they now also have the option of luxuriating on a new state-of-the-art, full-size 3G pitch.

The pitch was unveiled by Pompey players Kieron Freeman and George Hirst, much to the delight of the two teams of youth players as it meant they could finally get to try out the new facility at the Barton Cross campus.

Headteacher Julie Summerfield was also delighted to see the ribbon cut and the pitch in use. With funding largely from the Football Association and East Hampshire District Council, it was a whistlestop development which saw an application submitted in October 2020, approval granted in January and work starting in June.

‘It is such an amazing facility,’ said Mrs Summerfield. ‘I feel incredibly proud that we have this not only for our students but also for the local community. It is the largest and most up-to-date facility in this area and our young people have been so excited - they couldn’t wait to try it out for the first time.’

Kieron Freeman and George Hirst with Clanfields youth football team Picture Habibur Rahman

The project was spearheaded by the school’s community sports co-ordinator Caroline Whiffin who said that the links with the local community - which is already booking the pitch out during the evenings and weekend - were really strong and had helped when making the case to have it built. Having the ability for pupils to play in all weathers and all seasons was also incredibly important following the enforced restrictions the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns had put on them.

‘This is amazing for us and the community and opens up so many opportunities to get people active, get them involved in sport and get them out of their houses. It is great for everyone’s mental health as well as physical health and it gives people the chance to socialise and play a team game,’ added Mrs Whiffin.

PE teacher Caroline Whiffin and Headteacher Julie Summerfield with Pompey players, Kieron Freeman and George Hirst Picture Habibur Rahman