Steyning Town Football Club chairman Richard Woodbridge has hailed the decision to install a 3G surface at their Shooting Field home.
Town’s first game on the £435,000 state-of-the-art pitch came back in October and Woodbridge believes it was a fantastic move.
All of Steyning’s age-group teams from under-13 to first-team level train and play at the same venue now.
As well as Town, Southern Combination League teams Shoreham, Cowfold, Upper Beeding and Loxwood have all hired out the facility.
Woodbridge feels having all of Steyning’s teams based in one place will help the club grow in the future.
He said: “It’s been a great few months since the 3G pitch was installed. It was something we had been looking to do for a while and fortunately it’s all in place now.
“I think it’s helped us attract and keep hold of players, with being able to offer consistency with matches and training. Previously, we had a lot of our teams scattered around Steyning playing matches. Having the 3G now means all of our teams from under-13 through to the first team play and train in the same place.”
Steyning are Southern Combination League pioneers after becoming the first team to own a 3G surface. Lancing, who play their games at Culver Road, also play on an artificial surface but they lease the facilities from the Sussex FA.
Woodbridge believes other SCFL teams will follow suit sooner rather than later but sees raising funds as the biggest stumbling block.
He said: “I think it’s great that we became the first team in the SCFL to have an owned 3G pitch put in place. In future, I feel other teams will follow suit but raising the funds will become an issue. We were fortunate to receive a donation from The Wilson Memorial Trust, which helped us massively.”
In the three-month spell since the pitch was unveiled, Woodbridge has held discussions with various bodies and teams across the county. The Sussex Sunday League have expressed an interest in hiring the pitch, as have the Sussex FA, while a Soccer Sixes League currently takes place on Mondays.
Woodbridge said: “One of the main reasons for getting this surface was to provide people in the community a place to play football, which we’ve been able to offer.”
The new surface seems to have benefited Steyning’s first team as well. In 12 matches at The Shooting Field this season, Town have won eight and lost just three.
After taking charge in the summer, Gerry Murphy sees his side third in the standings and in the mix for promotion.
Reflecting on the season so far, Woodbridge said: “Things have gone better than I was expecting at the start of the season.
“Gerry has been exceptional and without the 3G we wouldn’t have got him on board. I think it’s been key in us attracting and keeping players as well. Hearing feedback from the players, only one or two have had slight complaints so it appears to be pleasing the teams also.”
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