Published On: Mon, Feb 17th, 2014 on 12:38 pm

Council’s football fields are far from ‘pitch perfect’

Bradford Pitch

Some Bradford pitches make it difficult to play football

As weather turned for the worse recently, the state of council-run football pitches, using hundreds of amateur teams in the region each week, have been in sharp focus over this winter, with the FA being quoted as saying such council-run facilities are in an “abhorrent state”.

The pitches are not only waterlogged, but are suffering from overuse, as can be evidenced from looking at the state of many located within Bradford.

Despite amateur clubs being charged from £415 upwards by Bradford Council (an increase of 40% since 2009) the increased fee has not resulted in improved facilities, with some pitches poorly maintained and suffering from use by multiple teams.

Fairbank United’s Under 15’s team is one of the many teams who’s fixtures have been affected.

“We’ve only managed to play one game in two months. All me and the lads want to do is play football, but it’s so frustrating,” said Captain Hussain Iqbal. “Games have been called off, even when it hasn’t been raining because the pitch is too muddy. Three other adult teams play on the same pitch, so by the time we play it’s a muddy bog and unplayable”

Zeeshan Khan of West Park United has the same problem.

“I have to travel to the other end of Bradford just to play a home game, and even then the facilities are really bad,” he said. “There are not enough good football pitches, and those that are good have two teams playing on them on a Saturday and sometimes two playing on a Sunday. We’ve had the last six games called off!”

It is a well-known fact in the past council’s subsidised the cost of pitches, and in these times of austerity, the subsidies are often the first to be scrapped. Adult football has also been affected by the poor facilities with almost 1,500 adult club sides across the country folding since 2008.

The impact on youth football is very disturbing and was highlighted by Shazad Bashir, Manager of Bainbridge FC.

He said: “Working in a school, I know full well the impact missing two months worth of school can have on a child. It’s exactly the same when children miss two months worth of football.

“It’s no wonder England is falling behind and failing to produce players with good technical ability when firstly they can’t play regularly, and when they do, their playing on muddy bogs that resemble battlefields from World War 1.”

With funding being cut from the council, the shortfall should be in theory met from the professional game. With a record amount of money being invested into the Premier League, it would be foolhardy of the professional game to turn their backs on grassroots football.

If it does and money is not invested the likelihood of England producing greats such as Steven Gerrard’s and Wayne Rooney’s will become even more difficult.

About the Author

Akif Waseem

- Management Committee Member of the Spen Valley Football League and the Bradford and District FA

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  1. Tariq says:

    Couldn’t agree anymore sir!

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