The new pitch putting a Harrogate high school at the heart of community sports

Andrew Jones, MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough, helped unveiled the new pitch at St John Fisher Catholic High School
Andrew Jones, MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough, helped unveiled the new pitch at St John Fisher Catholic High School

A Harrogate school has taken its place as a heart for community sport, offering opportunities for teams from across the district with its new all-weather pitch.

St John Fisher Catholic High School (SJF) unveiled the pitch on Saturday (October, 7), which was made possible through a £347,000 grant through the Premier League and FA Facilities Fund.

Plans are now underway to expand the school’s role as a host to teams from across the district alongside developing its own pupil sides.

Robert Pritchard, headteacher at SJF said: “We already have some really strong sportsmen and sportswomen in Harrogate but this will enable us to provide better access for teams and get them playing. In Harrogate it is hard to access something like this and now we will be able to provide throughout the year.”

He added: “The other aspect is that while the school will have use of it we are opening it up to the community. It will be so satisfying to see how others use it and for the school to take that kind of place at the heart of the community. We are going to be playing host to new girls and womens teams, along with providing access to disabled teams.”

Increasing female and veteran football through the new pitch was an objective set by the school for establishing the it. Walking football sessions will be on offer and eight new female teams established, one of these being an open-age side. Overall this will increase the number of female teams from six to 14 at the site.

The new floodlit third generation (3G) pitch will also be used by partner clubs Harrogate Town AFC and Pannal Sports JFC, both of which have previously been forced to travel out of area due to a lack of facilities. Harrogate Town will also be using the pitch to offer community outreach programmes and hold holiday clubs.

The West Riding FA will be using the pitch as a training hub while leagues ranging from the Harrogate Junior League and the West Riding FA Under-21 League will use the site.

Clubs from across the district, including Knaresborough Town FC, Hampthswaite United FC and Beckwithshaw FC will also have
access.

SJF staff including Max Mills MBE and Mike Knowles officially opened the pitch with Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones