Fantastic facility will be a Norfolk jewel
The Football Development Centre, known as the FDC, at Bowthorpe is due to play a huge part in the grassroots game for years to come. The facility was acquired in July and Norfolk County FA chief executive Shaun Turner has big plans for it.
The Football Development Centre, known as the FDC, at Bowthorpe is due to play a huge part in the grassroots game for years to come.
The facility was acquired in July and Norfolk County FA chief executive Shaun Turner has big plans for it.
It holds 10 synthetic-surfaced, floodlit pitches and Turner wants them to be full of footballers of all ages and abilities as the small-sided part of the sport continues to grow.
Turner said: 'I wanted the association to own our facility. I want to be able to offer people the opportunity to play in an environment that we can control and develop for the betterment of the grassroots game. I don't mean that in a controlling way but with us owning our own facility we can engage with our members and at a price which is affordable.
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'Charter Standard clubs receive subsidised rates when using the facilities and hopefully such incentives may act as a carrot for more clubs to achieve the Charter Standard kite mark.
'I want to put Norfolk on the map, showing people what we do for our clubs. They can come and play and can train and watch a live game on the TV and enjoy an experience at the FDC for a small fee, a fee which will remain in football. That's what is really a driving factor for me. Any money that is made from this centre will be reinvested and will help us develop the local game further.
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'We have called the centre the FDC because we want it to be the hub of football in Norfolk. If we can educate people here, brilliant; if we can deal with queries here, brilliant, as long as I can get people playing here so their hard-earned cash is well spent and stays within the game, job done.
'It's going to be a fantastic centre. It's a 10-pitch floodlit site. This should be busy all day and there shouldn't be a spare pitch from 5pm to 10pm when the lights go out. I think it will be a case of get in quick or miss out. I honestly believe come the end of February, once the redevelopment is complete this place will be full every night of the week.
'We want to run our education programmes here at weekends. Adult and youth players can play here in structured leagues, clubs can hire it out for meetings and so on, we'll teach some of our referees' courses here, our education courses, our emergency aid courses, clubs might want to hire it for a function.
'It will be an all-encompassing facility that is here for the footballing public of Norfolk.'
There are also plans to acquire the grass pitch next to the current site which the association will look to develop. Turner added: 'First of all we would look to obtain the grass area from the city council and subject to planning install floodlights and enclose it. Additional coach education courses could be held on there and in the future we would like to stage some of representative games there, under-18s and our women's team. With floodlights there is even the scope for a club to play there and develop the game further because we are missing step 5 and 6 clubs in Norwich (those at Ridgeons League Premier and Division One levels).
'But we're probably at least three years away from getting to that final point.'