How's this for a 'Cheick' presentation: Toon stars Papiss Cisse, Cheick Tiote and manager Alan Pardew were in the city's East End yesterday to announce a second phase of redevelopment at the Walker Activity Dome.
Young footballers using the centre had to pinch themselves when their idols showed up to present a cheque for £338,819 on behalf of the Premier League's Community Facilities Fund, which seeks to build on the city council's £2.5m investment to develop The Dome as a state-of-the-art soccer centre.
The impressive new-look centre now boasts 14 new pitches of various sizes, while the inside has been improved with new changing facilities, a players’ lounge, café and bar. The changes also included an upgrade to the function suite, an activity studio and indoor cycling studio as well as an impressive free weights area which offers the latest resistance equipment.
Now a joint bid for funding by the council’s Leisure Services and Newcastle United Foundation has secured a grant of £338,819 from the newly established Premier League Community Facility Fund to pay for another round of improvements at ‘The Dome’.
Alan Pardew presented a cheque to councillor Gerald Bell on behalf of the Premier League and the players then stayed on to sample the new facilities by having a kickabout with a group of local lads.
Cllr Bell said: “The kids were ecstatic to be able to meet up with their idols - and kick a ball about with them. It's a day they'll probably never forget.
"Grassroots football has always been very important to the people of Walker. We have a reputation for developing professional footballers from a very young age through a number of successful local clubs and this grant is yet another cause for celebration in a community that is clearly football-daft.
“We now have the perfect platform to build on the recent improvements to the centre, by working in partnership with Newcastle United to provide opportunities for budding footballers and by increasing the number of local people taking part in sport."
The money will go towards further physical improvements to the main hall, including new lighting and new playing surface as well as accessible changing facilities, and will help to fund a football development programme in partnership with Newcastle United Foundation – helping to increase sports participation in the Walker area and maybe even unearth the Premier League stars of tomorrow.
The Premier League Community Facility Fund (PLCFF), funded by the Premier League and delivered by the Football Foundation, is investing £18m over three years to develop new or refurbished sports facilities for local people across the country. The Fund is open to all football club community-led organisations from the Premier League, Football League, and Football Conference, including the Conference North and South Divisions.
Neil Winskill, Football Development Manager at Newcastle United Foundation said; “We run a whole host of programmes at the Dome, for all ages and abilities, ranging from three year olds up to adults. It is paramount that we offer first-rate facilities for participants and coaches to develop their skills in the right environment. The facilities at Walker are now second to none and I would encourage everyone to come along and get involved”
Richard Scudamore, Premier League Chief Executive, said: “The Premier League Community Facility Fund is all about providing sports facilities that reinvigorate local communities. The overall £18m of funding, which is available to 160 clubs across six tiers of English football, is investment that will have a lasting impact.
“The community of Walker is one of the first to benefit from the PLCFF. Once again, Newcastle United is placing itself at the heart of their local community and using football to make a positive social difference.”
It is proposed that the construction work involved should be delivered by the council’s development partner Aura as an extension of their existing contract, which included the original refurbishment of the centre and the construction of the new Central Walker CofE Primary School on a neighbouring plot of land.
Work is anticipated to be completed by January 2013.
Page last updated: 25 October, 2012