Shola & Sammy Show The Way Forward
Newcastle United players Shola and Sammy Ameobi have returned to the streets where they honed their football skills as youngsters to open a newly-refurbished community sports centre which could inspire a new generation of local Premier League stars.
The brothers, who both played for Walker Boys Club and went to school nearby, were on hand to launch the revamped Walker Activity Dome sports centre, which has undergone a second phase of redevelopment thanks to a £338,819 grant from the Premier League’s Community Facilities Fund (PLCFF).
Shola and Sammy were joined by local children and a host of special guests from Newcastle United, the Newcastle United Foundation, Newcastle City Council, the Premier League and the Football Foundation, with Nick Brown MP performing a formal plaque unveiling.
Shola, who has made more than 300 first appearances for his hometown club, said: “The new facilities are absolutely brilliant. I think back to when I was a kid growing up around here and we didn’t have anything like this. It’s a fantastic scheme for communities like Walker.
“This is a city which lives for football and the foundations are now there for a new generation of players to come along, enjoy themselves and to learn skills which will not only benefit them on the pitch, but also off it in their everyday lives.”
The Walker Activity Dome, formerly the Lightfoot Centre, has been transformed into a state-of-the-art soccer centre following an initial £2.5m investment by Newcastle City Council. A joint bid for further funding was made by the council’s Leisure Services and the Newcastle United Foundation, which resulted in the grant of £338,819 from the PLCFF to complete improvements to ‘The Dome’.
Improvements have been made to the main hall, including new lighting and new playing surface as well as accessible changing facilities, and the PLCFF grant will also 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.
Richard Scudamore, Premier League Chief Executive, said: “The Premier League Community Facility Fund has so far proved to be a model of public-private partnership, and there are few better examples than the Walker Activity Dome.
“Newcastle City Council and Newcastle United are successfully working to a common goal of increasing sports participation in the city that is mad for football. With the likes of Shola and Sammy Ameobi, the community of East Newcastle has never had far to look for inspiration. I’m sure Newcastle United would like to find more like them, but it’s also important to build on the legacy created by London 2012 and that’s what the Walker Activity Dome will do.”
Neil Winskill, Football Development Manager at Newcastle United Foundation said; “The facilities at Walker are now second to none and I would encourage everyone to come along and get involved.
“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.”
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