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How Sports Shelters Can Enhance Public Facilities

Any council or firm looking to develop a sporting facility, either from scratch or by revamping an existing site, will do well to take into account all the needs of its users in all circumstances. Much of that can involve new facilities to meet previously underserved needs for certain groups in the community, but some things benefit everybody.

Never can that be more true than for sports shelters. A sports centre can have all kinds of modernised changing and training facilities, new pitch technology and state-of-the-art equipment, but the age-old need to have a simple, practical place of refuge for those involved but not playing - from coaches to substitutes - remains the same.

It may be hoped that this is not overlooked even in the grandest of plans for new or revamped sports facilities.

For example, a site in Nottingham that has a particularly distinguished history is set for an upgrade after Nottingham City Council gained planning permission for a new pitch.

The Forest Sports Zone is located to the north of the city centre at the Forest Recreation Ground, home for centuries to the famous Nottingham Goose Fair and, as the name suggests, was the original home of Nottingham Forest Football Club.

While there won’t be any Premier League action taking place at the site, it has been a major local football facility since 2015, run jointly by the council and Nottingham Forest Community Trust. It already has six changing rooms, a 3G pitch, a sand-based pitch and an indoor education area, with the original funding coming from Sport England.

It is used by 2,500 people each week and has been widely credited with helping engage local communities and reduce anti-social behaviour.

Now, the site is to be upgraded with a £1.8 million grant from the Football Foundation and £530,000 from Nottingham Trent University. A key improvement will be the replacement of the deteriorating sand-based pitch with a multi-use surface.

This latest upgrade may make Nottingham the envy of many for the standard of its community football facilities, not least with the attached history. But while other councils might want to find ways of emulating this, it is crucial that small details such as the pitch-side shelters are given as much attention as changing rooms and the playing surface itself.

Chief executive officer for Nottingham Forest Community Trust Calum Osborne lamented that: “Locally and nationally, there is a lack of high-quality facilities for people to play football.”

In view of this, he added, “to get this project over the line, at a place that Nottingham Forest Football Club once called home [is] a great result for local football and our communities.” 

Formed in 1865 when the main sporting use of Nottingham Forest was as a racecourse, the football club played at the site until 1879. After this they hosted fixtures at several local venues until moving to their present City Ground home in 1898, the year they won the FA Cup for the first time.

It is safe to say that back in those Victorian years, the facilities at the Forest Grounds would have been very sparse indeed for the new game played on the fields within the racecourse. But there is no need for players today, at whatever level, not to enjoy 21st-century facilities from the entrance gate to the touchline.


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