The Football Association of Wales (FAW) Trust has hailed the country’s first ever full-size indoor pitch, which will open later this year, as “fantastic news” for Welsh football.
The state-of-the-art facility – being built at the University of South Wales (USW) Sport Park near Pontypridd – will be available to USW students and the wider sporting community all year round.
The first full-size artificial indoor pitch in Wales – one of just five in the whole of the UK – will help to boost the provision of artificial, all-weather training facilities in Wales, a point welcomed by FAW Trust CEO Neil Ward.
“This is fantastic news,” said Ward. “This is another facility that adds to our total ambition of achieving 100 artificial pitches by 2024. We’re almost 60 percent of the way to achieving that target.”
The new development, located just 20 minutes from Cardiff, will also feature two new floodlit outdoor 3G pitches and a specialist centre for strength and conditioning.
As well as being available for public use, USW Sport Park is regularly used for training by professional sport teams – Cardiff City FC and the British & Irish Lions are among those to have trained there – and Ward believes that careful commercial planning of this kind is crucial to future 3G pitch development in Wales.
“It’s important to get the right blend of artifical surfaces and grass pitches, because artificial pitches are expensive to build, to maintain and replace,” said Ward.
“So we need to ensure there’s the critical mass, the number of people playing in the area in order to sustain the commercial plan that sits behind them to make them successful.
“It’s really important that the Welsh Government and local authorities understand the importance of protecting investment in grassroots pitches.
“I see this as a public health issue. There’s a disconnect as far as I’m concerned between achieving a fit and active, healthy nation and access to affordable and available facilities to take part in sport.
“It’s important that we work with local authorities, at a local level, to form action plans for the future that identify ways in which we can protect existing investment and plan future provision.”
You can look at designs for the new indoor pitch and listen to the interview with Neil Ward in the video below.
Image courtesy of FAW Trust.