The hub comprises one full-size and two enlarged floodlit 3G artificial grass pitches, four junior and senior grass pitches along with a superb new pavilion with changing rooms, clubroom and café. All will be available to local clubs to hire for training and matches and will serve as a superb venue for coach education courses in Hampshire. As well as being the new home for AFC Stoneham, it will also be a central venue for the 130 local Under 7 and Under 10 teams in the Eastleigh and District Mini Soccer League (EDMSL).
AFC Stoneham Chairman, Mark Stupple, explained how Highwood’s sponsorship of its children’s teams will help to ensure the growth of his club – and that of the wider local footballing community – continues to thrive.
‘We’re delighted that Highwood has made the decision to support the club,’ he reveals. Like many clubs, we rely heavily on sponsorship from local organisations to fund our equipment, training and facilities. Thanks to their generous investments in AFC Stoneham, we can continue to attract and nurture new talent and offer a structured player pathway for any child who wants to realise their sporting potential.’
Celebrating its 100th year in 2019, AFC Stoneham has over 40 teams who range from Minnows who play for fun on Saturdays right through from Under 7 playing in the EDMSL to the Senior squads. They also include a dynamic collective of enthusiastic girls and ladies’ teams who are leading the way when it comes to introducing girls to a well-supported footballing experience. Thanks to last season’s FA initiative to get young girls into football, AFC Stoneham is an accredited FA Girls Wildcats Centre. We’re introducing young girls to football alongside teams at U8, U9, U14 and U16 girls’ teams, which creates a pathway into the Club’s ladies’ team. Female football at AFC Stoneham will certainly be a big growth area in the next couple of years for the club.
All teams will now have the opportunity to play on Stoneham Lane’s state-of-the-art 3G pitches that Highwood agreed to deliver for Eastleigh Borough Council back in 2016 as Simon Beech, Land and Sales Director at Highwood, confirmed.
‘The North Stoneham Park development is not only providing much needed housing for the local community,’ he says. ‘It’s also giving us the chance to create a wealth of new sporting facilities for everyone who lives in the area too. We’re replacing the playing fields that were lost at Stoneham Park and the Jubilee playing fields with the next-generation pitches at the new hub and associated facilities at the Monks Brook playing fields. The new facilities are set to be handed over next month and we’re very excited to see AFC Stoneham’s players take to their pitches wearing their new Highwood kits.’
The Council engaged with the FA, Sport England and the Premier League to secure £4.9 million grant funding from the national Parklife Football Hub programme that aims to create a sustainable model for football facilities, which local communities can benefit from. For the hundreds of local fun, youth and senior teams, it means their weekly training and match fixtures can continue without the threat of poor-quality grass or bad weather stopping play – a godsend for those in the local community who are fanatical about football.
AFC Stoneham is constantly on the lookout for new footballing talent and keen to welcome those who want to learn new skills get fit in a structured, but fun environment. In addition, the Club is always looking for new volunteers to help run the club effectively off the pitch. If you’re interested in joining a new team or volunteering, please visit the club’s website at https://www.afcstoneham.co.uk or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.