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Sturridge Family Officially Open Town’s New 3G Sporting Facility at Congleton High

Welcomed and supported by the town’s sporting community and students alike, Congleton High, home of the Congleton Sport Academy, has replaced its outdated and worn synthetic pitch with a brand new, state-of-the art, 3G artificial turf pitch, the only one of its kind in Cheshire. Alongside is the new, 150 seat ‘Daniel Sturridge Stand’, in honour of the school’s former student and now premiership footballer and England International. This is the creation of a fantastic asset for the town and is destined to improve the quality of and reduce disruption to a whole range of Congleton outdoor team sports. The new facilities were officially opened on Monday 10th October by members of the Sturridge Foundation; Daniel’s father, Michael Sturridge, aunt, Ava Sturridge-Packer CBE and uncle and former Premiership footballer, Dean Sturridge along with Congleton Town Mayor, Cllr David Brown.

Following the opening ceremony, also attended by members of many of the town’s sports clubs and local residents, coaches and teams from Congleton Rugby Club, Congleton Rovers, Vale Juniors and Soccer Sevens were invited to test out the facilities and be amongst the first to officially play on the new surface. Daniel Sturridge was unable to attend the event himself due to his International football duties but the school would like to congratulate him on his milestone achievement in his professional career after he scored his 100th professional goal at Wembley for England in the 2-0 win against Malta on Saturday 8th October.

As reported in the Congleton Chronicle in July, usage of many of the town’s sports facilities is restricted by the weather.  With many grass field pitches waterlogged from November to February, the school’s old all-weather facility was an incredibly important part of school and town life, with students using it each week for PE lessons, team training, extracurricular clubs including rugby, hockey and fitness and over 200 primary school children visiting each term to take part in sports activities hosted by Congleton High. Community sporting clubs, too, relied on the school’s AstroTurf for their weekly training and matches, along with local businesses and residents who hire the facility for recreational activities.

However, the heavy usage it endured over the years meant the pitch reached the end of its lifespan some time ago and, as a result of the years of wear and tear, maintenance costs began to mount. Also, the sand-based construction of the original AstroTurf surface made it unsuitable for football and rugby matches, unlike the new 3G pitch. With the safety and enjoyment of its students and the local community and youth sports teams in mind, Congleton High took the urgent and much needed decision to improve and upgrade its facilities, ensuring all those using its AstroTurf could and would benefit. The school was also keen to create a resource that would offer even more of the local community access to a high-quality, all weather, sports provision and the decision has been encouraged and supported by the many local sports clubs that use the facilities to train and compete.

Providing safety alongside weather resistance, durability and versatility, 3G pitches are probably the most significant development in synthetic pitches since AstroTurf was first developed in 1965. While there are a number of construction variations, the pitch at Congleton High includes an all-weather 60mm artificial grass layer laid on to a 20mm rubber ‘shockpad’ base, which takes the impact out of any fall, making this new surface as suitable for rugby as it is for football and other outdoor team sports.

In addition to the new surface, which will enable more teams than ever to benefit, the pitch project also includes new dug outs, fencing and goals and the covered Daniel Sturridge Stand alongside the pitch, vastly improving the whole experience for plays as well as spectating home and away family and friends.

Mr Hermitt, executive principal at Congleton High, commented:
“Replacement of our existing AstroTurf pitch was way overdue and we are extremely excited to be able to deliver this new facility for our students and all of Congleton’s sporting enthusiasts. As the only one of its kind in Cheshire, it opens up opportunities for a great many more people from the town and surrounding areas to benefit and to enjoy participating in a wide range of sports at a local and national level. We talked with the local clubs who train and play matches here and they fully support us and are thrilled that they will now have this latest sporting technology within easy reach. We would like to thank the Sturridge family for all their support.”

The timely arrival of the new pitch coincides with the launch of the Congleton Sport Academy, which has been created by the school in recognition of the high numbers of Post 16 students wishing to pursue academic and vocational pathways whilst still maintaining a high level of sporting activity and also those wishing to pursue a career in the sports industry. 

Although extremely popular, with local clubs and organisations already booking their time on the pitch, there are still a number of time slots available. Groups or individuals interested in hiring the new 3G pitch or any of the school sports facilities should contact Sports Centre Manager, Laura Heades, on 01260 730143 or email: sportsmanager@congletonhigh.com

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