The Groundsman

April 2015

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Visit for more information and digital editions IOG BEST PRACTICE 16 the Groundsman April 2015 s a founder member of Aylestone Park FC in Leicester, Bob Stretton has always gone one step further to improve the club and its facilities for the local community footballers. For example, when the club moved to its current 17- acre site in November 2010 (after 38 years at its former ground nearby), its planned new clubhouse was extended beyond that originally part-funded by the Football Foundation, "to make it completely fit for our purposes", says Bob. More recently, with a new 3G pitch currently under construction, Bob has been instrumental in 'extending' the build programme to include a stand. Costing in total a whopping £700,000 – which far exceeds the initial Football Foundation funding – Bob is adamant that the extra cost is worth every penny: "If you're going to do it, then do it right," he says. A Bob Stretton - a champion for community football IOG Vitax Amenity Volunteer of the Year Award winner Bob Stretton has clearly focused on meeting the needs of community football – with rich rewards for the people of Leicester By: Colin Hoskins "The whole point of adding a spectators' stand (along with a stand-side tea bar) is to ensure that parents have a pleasurable experience when they come here. If they're standing out in the pouring rain they're not going to be too keen to bring their children back. This whole facility is geared to providing a football facility for the youngsters – we have about 140 players below the age of 11 - so we must do all we can to encourage their continued participation, which very often depends on the actions of the parents." Community Club status That Bob and the whole of the Aylestone Park FC committee, of which Gary Lineker OBE is club president, are succeeding can be measured by the fact that in 2003 the club gained Football Association Community Club status (which acknowledges an advanced level of club development and football provision) and, today, 43 teams enjoy the facilities for training and matches on four natural pitches. Such heavy demand, especially for training, has prompted the 3G investment. "It doesn't matter how much sand we put on the training areas, nor how much drainage and aeration we do, we lose sessions due to the weather," Bob continues. "There is no doubt that a 3G pitch can take the place of at least three natural pitches – we should get 60 hours a week of play from the 3G compared to seven hours from a natural pitch. As well as training, the 3G will be primarily used for five-a-side games for juniors' recreational football, so the choice of playing surface has been based on quantity [of provision] rather than quality of surface."

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