Sports Minister Mims Davies and the Chief Executive of the Football Association Mark Bullingham paid a visit to Stoneham Lane yesterday to see how work at the new multi-million pounds football hub is progressing.
Based on the site of the Monks Brook playing field, the new facility consists of one full-size stadium pitch with seating and two larger floodlit 3G artificial grass pitches. There will also be be junior and senior grass pitches, together with a changing room pavilion, clubroom with café and parking. The ground will be provide a new home venue for AFC Stoneham who are the anchor club.
The hub replaces the grass playing pitches lost to new housing at Doncaster Farm.The cost – £8 million – has come from Stoneham Park developer contributions collected by the council and ring fenced for sports provision and also from the Football Association who were looking for a site in the area to develop as a regional football hub as part of their ongoing ‘Parklife’ programme.
Sacha Nicholas, Facilities Investment Manager for Hampshire FA explained:
“Parklife is a scheme to build strategic [football] hubs across the country in key locations, normally urban areas, to try and drive traffic to quality sites and to make football more sustainable.
“Eastleigh Mini soccer league are a key partner as are AFC Stoneham. There will be walking football here as well as women’s football – it really will be a ‘one stop shop’ for community football.”
Nicholas told Eastleigh News that the hub was the biggest and best footballing facility on the south Coast, adding:
“We have been fortunate to have Eastleigh Borough Council a partner – many other councils would not have been able to deliver the support needed to get this off the ground.”
The Sports Minister – who is also Eastleigh’s MP – also praised the initiative:
“Partnerships in sport are absolutely vital and I’m delighted that the council and the FA have been able to come together here.
“It very important for people to get out and get active. The opportunity to play football here all year round is going to be transformative.
“This hub is much needed now we have more people coming into football as the womens’s and girls game grows”
Representing Eastleigh Borough Council, Deputy Leader Councillor Paul Bicknell said
“This is a wonderful facility that shows what can be achieved when a progressive and forward-looking council works together with sports providers like the Football Association to provide a regional quality football hub.”
Cllr Bicknell added that the Council have also been able to use developer contributions to upgrade sports facilities at Hardmoor Sports ground on Stoneham Lane and at Lapstone Park in Fair Oak.
Stoneham Lane Hub is expected to open in the Autumn.