New £860,000 football pitch could be built at former Norfolk school of Manchester City star

North Walsham High School. Picture: John Fielding

North Walsham High School. Picture: John Fielding - Credit: Archant

A new £860,000 football pitch with an emphasis on attracting girls to the beautiful game is being touted for the former school of an award-winning footballer.

North Walsham High School ex pupil Lauren Hemp signs for Manchester City Women. 31/5/2018 Picture: T

North Walsham High School ex pupil Lauren Hemp signs for Manchester City Women. 31/5/2018 Picture: Tom Flathers, Manchester City. - Credit: Archant

North Norfolk District Council is keen to build a new artificial grass football pitch in North Walsham.

The pitch is proposed to be built at North Walsham High School - the same school attended by PFA Women's Young Player of the Year Lauren Hemp.

Council bosses are asking councillors to contribute £374,000 towards the project, which would be the latest in a string of investments in sport and leisure facilities across the district.

It would see the new pitch accompanied by parking and changing facilities, to allow to it be used independently from the school outside of hours.

A report to the council's new cabinet, which will meet for the first time on Monday, December 3, says a national campaign to get women and girls into football will feature heavily in the project.

It says: 'One of the key points for the Football Association is to maximise participation at the proposed facility.

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'There is a particular emphasis on girls' and women's football and with Sport England involvement, the 'This Girl Can' campaign, which runs across all sports and active leisure activities, will be at the forefront of the operating facility.'

The council is hoping the remaining amount for the facility can be gathered through Football Foundation grant funding, with officers hoping to secure £486,000 towards the project.

The project will be discussed at the first meeting of new council leader Sarah Butikofer's cabinet, who will decide whether to recommend the investment to full council.

The officer's report adds: 'The need for an artificial grass pitch in North Walsham has been clearly made and grant funding is available for 60pc of the capital cost.

'If the council went ahead with the project, it would largely recoup the capital costs via user income through a dual use sports centre arrangement in place with the high school.'

If approved, it is hoped a funding application to the FA could be submitted by April 2019, with the ambition of completing the project by the end of that year.