The Firs brought back into use for kids’ football

From left to right Cllrs Batsford, Westley, Turner and Davies, Ken Dullaway, the council's Active StreetGames co-ordinator, and young footballers
From left to right Cllrs Batsford, Westley, Turner and Davies, Ken Dullaway, the council's Active StreetGames co-ordinator, and young footballers

A VACANT playing field has been brought back into use for young, aspiring footballers.

The gates to The Firs pitch were unlocked this week and will be used for youth football teams to train and practise on.

The Firs closed in early 2004 after St Leonards Football Club went bust. Since then it fell into disrepair.

But over the summer local councillors, residents and council officers got together and came up with the brainwave of bringing The Firs in Elphinstone Road back into use.

The field has been mowed, marked out and spruced up ready for budding David Beckhams.

Cllr Emily Westley, the council’s lead member for leisure, said: “The area has the potential to become a hub for junior football and we hope that this new pitch will trigger further interest and bookings for the forthcoming season.

“Special thanks must go to John Weeks and Barry Gain and local councillors, Turner, Davies and Batsford, who have helped to spearhead this new pitch.”

Cllr Turner said he and Cllr Davies were approached by residents in their ward, saying there was nothing to do for the under 10s.

He said: “The Firs was out of use and had become overgrown in places.

“Our building regulations people checked it and said there were no safety concerns so we set about bringing it back into use.

“Teams are getting together and the parents here are very enthusiastic. This is communitarianism at its best. Some teams have already come forward and are now using The Firs.”

The new six-a-side pitch is ideal for the under 7s and 8s and is in line with the new Football Association (FA) regulations for junior football. A complimentary coaching grid has also been marked out to assist with training sessions.

Streetgames will be running a weekly community football session for young people on the grassed area that will be supervised by qualified FA coaches. The grids will also be used for coaching young people.

The Firs already contains a multi-use games area (MUGA) with an astro turf surface and floodlights.

To book the new pitch or the astro MUGA teams should contact Aaron Woods at the council on 01424 451334 or email awoods@hastings.gov.uk.