Some special guests went ‘back to school’ to celebrate the official launch of Rushbrook Primary Academy’s new sports pitch and to meet the newly formed girls’ football team.
England and Liverpool legend, John Barnes, former Lioness and Manchester City goalkeeper, Karen Bardsley, and Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, were all in attendance at the Gorton school on Thursday 30 March. They were joined by world record-breaking professional freestyle footballer, Rebaz Mohammed, who delighted pupils by showcasing and teaching them a number of new skills.
The new facility has already had a huge impact enabling a new girls’ football team to be formed. The girls have been up at dawn, training in all weathers before school, to play the sport they love. The squad are counting down to this year’s Fifa Women’s World Cup to watch the Lionesses go for glory again.
Addressing the school community, Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “I’m delighted to officially open the new outdoor pitch at Rushbrook Primary Academy which is a brilliant facility for the school and local community.
“When the Lionesses won the Women’s Euros last year, they said that they wanted every single girl growing up in England to have the chance to play football at school. At Rushbrook Primary Academy you are already doing this which makes us so proud, and it is what the Greater Manchester Women’s Football Board (GMWFB) is encouraging all schools to achieve so that everyone has the opportunity to play the sport so many of us love.”
Mr Carroll, Principal at Rushbrook Primary Academy, added: “Our all-weather sports pitch has been on our wish list for some time, and now, thanks to Bright Futures Educational Trust, it’s taken shape from what was once an unusable area of the school field. The transformation has been amazing, and the children really enjoyed seeing the project develop. Having access to this facility enables children to regain their focus on both their physical and mental health, following the pandemic. The same applies to the Rushbrook community and both local partners and stakeholders who will use the facility. The site is fully accessible including for those with mobility issues which makes the facility more inclusive.”
Bright Futures Executive Leader, Lisa Fathers, is part of the task force launched in Greater Manchester to promote girls’ and women’s football across the city-region. The group, formed last year, was set up to develop girls’ and women’s football at all levels, from increasing participation at a grassroots level to supporting teams in the FA Women’s Football pyramid. GMWFB plays an active role in supporting the game and developing players, identifying partnerships and funding opportunities, and making recommendations on future facility plans across Greater Manchester. Board member include Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, Baroness Sue Campbell, Director of Women’s Football at The Football Association (FA) and the Board is chaired by Karen Bardsley, former England international goalkeeper.
At Bright Futures we have a Girls’ Football Super Hub too, we know the power of sport in both bringing people together and on wellbeing. As a Girls’ Football Super Hub, Bright Futures works closely with The FA and the Youth Sport Trust to pave the way for the next ‘Lionesses’ to take to the pitch. Collaborating to create a 21st century modern curriculum for girls, enabling them to access and engage in football and really improve the uptake of girls’ football. The Trust works with Physical Education (PE) leads across the region to further develop the school workforce with CPD on football.
Lisa added: “As a Trust, we want to ensure that girls in our schools have equal access to not only playing football but also careers in sport. Some of our work is about performance football but also football for: fun, fitness, and friendship. We are delighted to be helping to shape the ambitious aspirations for girls and women in the city-region.”
In January last year, work began to install the new multi-use games area (MUGA) on Rushbrook Primary Academy’s school playing field. The new pitch enables children to participate in a range of sports, which form a major part of the Physical Education (PE) and Personal, Social, Health and Economics (PSHE) curriculum, as well as many extra-curricular activities, all-year round. From the children at breakfast club to those participating in competitive sports after school, and everything in between, this facility brings huge benefits for the Rushbrook family and beyond.