Sheffield City Council has announced the start of the refurbishment of Woodburn Road in Darnall. On completion, Woodburn Road will become the fourth football hub site in Sheffield alongside the sites at Westfield, Graves and Thorncliffe.
The scheme is financed via Sport England who provided £2.8 million for the refurbishment of the facilities. As part of the refurbishment, the current two-storey pavilion will include brand new reception, café, meeting space and multi faith room facilities as well as new changing facilities. Vital ancillary facilities will also be installed for the existing athletics community who use the local university’s 400m running track.
Sheffield City Council hope that the new improvements will make the facility more accessible and welcoming for young people to use. This will allow for more places to play for everyone in the community.
In order to turn the area into the proposed football hub, seven new floodlit football pitches are also set to be installed. In addition, there will also be an influx of new services to the site which originally opened in 2013, from turn up and play sessions to activities run by the local youth organisation.
Coaching programmes will be important for the new facility with coaching for young people from local football clubs – including Aden Steelers, Darnall FA, Darnall Diamonds and Sheffield City. Coaching for disabled young people will also take place weekly, with a new Pan-disability league also set to be a regular occurrence at the new hub. This will be provided by Sheffield and Hallamshire FA with the goal of giving the opportunity of regular, competitive football to over 16s in the community.
It is hoped that with the refurbishment of Woodburn Road – to be renamed The Gordon Banks Stadium in tribute to the former England goalkeeper – there will be even more places to play football at a grassroots level, crucially, at a low-cost. Another goal is that the upgraded facilities and the extra opportunities to play football casually and competitively will be able to improve both the physical and mental health of young people in the area including at the nearby Sheffield Hallam University.
The investment has been welcomed by many leaders in the Sheffield area, with Councillor Richard Williams commenting that:
“This is a fantastic scheme that will benefit so many. We know how important football is to the community, it allows people to have fun, keep fit and importantly, it’s low-cost to play.”
“We’re so grateful for this investment, the funding will go a long way for the community, allowing people to play football in top quality facilities alongside an exciting programme of sessions run by experienced organisations.”