Celebratory chants are being prepared by young footballers after work began on a new £1m pitch-side pavilion – but it is not just soccer stars of the future who are cheering.
Parents and coaches have expressed their delight that years spent kicking off at Richmond Council has seen their goal of having the new facility at North Sheen Recreation Ground come closer to completion.
The project was made possible after the Football Foundation gave a £600,000 grant towards the pavilion, with £50,000 coming from the ground’s biggest user – Kew Park Rangers (KPR) football club – and the rest given by Richmond Council.
Ten-year-old Rufus Stott, who plays in the U-11 side, said: “It will help bring more people to watch our football and will make it more organised. It will also mean people who aren’t footballers may use the recreational ground more often now too.”
Fellow player Findlay Duncan, eight, added: “It will be nice to have some loos and maybe somewhere to store all the balls so we don’t have to carry them every Saturday morning.”
A two-storey building will be built at the recreation ground in time for the 2010-2011 season, which will include changing rooms – complete with disabled access – and public lavatories, which will join the council’s Community Toilet Scheme.
There will also be a cafe and a community room, which will be available to hire.
Findlay’s aunt, Sally Woodward Gentle, said: “We have been lobbying for a pavilion for so long my children have grown up and moved off.
“All three of my children, a girl and two boys have played for KPR in the past and loved it.
“My youngest son, however, uses the rec and is looking forward to how the facility will benefit the whole community, as well as knowing how much it means to KPR.”
Jean-Francis Burford, chairman of KPR, said the pavilion would be “a lasting legacy for grassroots football in this community”.
The site is currently home to a commemorative graffiti wall, in memory two youngsters who died several years ago, and this will be removed as part of the development.
However, council leader, Councillor Serge Lourie, who described the project as a £1m improvement “for just £350,000 of taxpayers’ funds”, said: “We have contacted parents indirectly through the Friends of North Sheen Rec group and agreed a suitable memorial will be included at the site as a replacement.”