Page last updated at 12:32 GMT, Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Grass-roots football gets 11m

More than 11m has been awarded to transform grass-roots football in Leicester, it has been announced.

The 11.2m investment includes the biggest single grant, 5m, ever made by the national charity Football Foundation.

The cash will help improve outdated facilities and encourage people, especially children, to take up football in a bid to combat obesity.

Other plans will see more than 5,000 youngsters get football coaching.

Money has also come from Leicester City Council, NHS Leicester City, Sport England, local partner clubs and the UEFA Jubilee Fund.

We've been getting young people playing football for more than 40 years now - including a young Gary Lineker

Bob Stretton, Aylestone Park Football Club

Councillor Andy Connelly, cabinet member for culture and leisure at Leicester City Council, said: "This is a fantastic opportunity to upgrade our sports facilities in a way that will benefit entire communities.

"Whether people want to hone their football skills or simply adopt a more active lifestyle, there's something for everyone in this initiative.

"Thanks to the new investment, we can begin to make a real difference to the way that football is played and promoted in Leicester - and we'll also continue to work closely with the network of local clubs that do so much to develop football at grass-roots level."

Future stars

A recent survey by Sport England showed Leicester had a lower level of participation in sport and activity than the national average.

The city council said seven grass sites in Leicester have been identified for football development - Aylestone playing fields, Aylestone recreation ground, Beaumont Park, Hamilton Park, Mary Linwood playing fields, New College playing fields and Rushey Fields recreation ground.

Aylestone Park Football Club - which has Gary Lineker as its president - is one of the clubs set to benefit from the investment.

Club chairman, Bob Stretton, said: "This project means that we can carry on the work that we started back in 1968.

"We've been getting young people from the local estates playing football for more than 40 years now - including a young Gary Lineker - so let's hope this funding helps us to find another star of the future."

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