Freethorpe's sporting milestone

IT was just champion as Freethorpe welcomed former England footballer Stuart Pearce to open its new community pavilion.The star guest cut the ribbon at the unveiling of the village's �328,000 sports facility on Saturday.

IT was just champion as Freethorpe welcomed former England footballer Stuart Pearce to open its new community pavilion.

The star guest cut the ribbon at the unveiling of the village's �328,000 sports facility on Saturday.

Fans turned out in force to meet the football legend who is the current England U21 manager. He was given a tour of the pavilion before declaring the venue open.

He said: “I can tell in a short space of time that so much hard work has gone into these facilities by people associated with the football club and the community. This is something you should be proud of.

“It is great for the next generation of players, perhaps the club will be supplying the U21 team in years to come.”

The award-winning Freethorpe Football Club has three adult teams, three girls' and six youth sides with about 160 players in total.

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Club secretary Stephen Smith said: “In 2003 the football club had a dream, a vision for the future. I think what we can see now in terms of these facilities and all these young people in their football tops is that we have delivered the dream and the vision has become a reality. We are thrilled to have a football legend like Stuart Pearce here to open our pavilion.”

The new facility has six changing rooms, including two for match officials, a club room and kitchen.

It was the culmination of years of fund raising by Freethorpe Football Club and the Village Hall Committee. Funding came from the Football Foundation, the Football Association, Broadland Distirct Council and Biffaward landfill community scheme.

Villagers also raised cash organising bingo sessions, casino nights, fetes and sponsored walks.

Norfolk FA chief executive Shaun Turner said: “When Stephen first came to see me to ask for funding for a pavilion the club had just two teams. I told him he needed to build a youth

set-up and provide girls' football. Some people would have just walked out of the door, but he said: 'If that's what we have to do we will'.”

Mid Norfolk MP Keith Simpson also paid tribute to all the efforts made to provide the village with the venue: “It is absolutely brilliant, a real triumph.”