Hammers pair open sports centre

Two famous West Ham United No10s were on hand to open a new community sports centre in Bedfordshire this week.

Sir Trevor Brooking and Jack Collison both attended the ceremony to mark the opening of the £1.3m Shefford Sports Club facility, which will play host to a number of local football clubs.

Among them will be the junior club Collison played for as a schoolboy growing up, Shefford Saints FC, as well as the town's Bedfordshire County Football League side Shefford Town and Campton FC.

Funded by the Football Foundation - the nation's largest sports charity that is funded by the Premier League, The FA, and the Government via Sport England - the Football Stadia Improvement Fund and WREN, Landfill Communities Fund, the new facilities include a full-size adult pitch, training area and five junior pitches, plus a new clubhouse.

Sir Trevor praised everyone involved in enabling the development to take place, pointing to the importance of grassroots football to the fortunes of English national team.

"This is a really good example of a variety of different groups working together to do the funding," he said. "Obviously The FA had an involvement through the Football Foundation and you have to admire the officials who have taken a long time going through the process.

"For a club with 21 junior teams to get a venue like this, with an important clubhouse to pay for the ongoing costs of things like coaching courses for the managers, improving the facilities, kits and everything else that is needed to sustain a club.

"As we celebrate England's qualification for the World Cup in Brazil next year it is always heartening to attend an event like this and see how we are benefiting our younger players, both boys and girls.

"All of the players who will be representing England at the World Cup finals will have played for a grassroots club when they were starting out and that is why facilities like this are so important for the future of football in this country."

After Sir Trevor had cut the ribbon to officially open the new complex, both he and Wales midfielder Collison spent time meeting young footballers, posing for photographs, signing autographs and passing on advice on how to follow in their illustrious footsteps.

Collison has kept a close eye on the development at his old club, attending a ground-breaking ceremony when work got underway in June 2012.

"The club still means a lot to me," revealed the 25-year-old. "I played here as child and my family are still local. I had a great time playing here and so it is important that these clubs are given the support in this way to try and improve and be able to offer the chance for youngsters to play."

Collison won the Shefford Saints Player of the Year award as an Under-9 and the club now has a special award named in his honour that is presented annually to a player with the greatest potential.

Jack Collison

Jack Collison has kept a close eye on the Shefford Sports development