Clarets defender Ben Mee helped to inspire the next generation of footballers when he launched a third generation football pitch at a Colne high school.
The centre-half visited Fisher More RC High School to open its new all-weather pitch, which is expected to fill local football demand due to a lack of adequate junior and full-size pitches in the area.
The new 3G pitch, made possible thanks to a grant from the Premier League and The FA Facilities Fund, delivered by the Football Foundation, will replace an existing Redgra pitch, which had fallen into disrepair and was rarely used.
Simon Atkin, assistant headteacher, said: “I must thank Lancashire County Council and the Premier League and The FA Facilities Fund for making this £650,000 project possible.
“Pendle has been in desperate need for a facility such as this for many years. Not only will fewer 11-a- side games be called off, but this site will now provide the area with four five-a-side pitches, two seven-a-side pitches and two nine-a-side pitches for junior football.
“Both the East Lancashire Alliance Junior League and Accrington and District Junior League will benefit from playing their league matches here throughout winter.
“In addition, our school children will enjoy PE lessons on this fabulous pitch with our school teams no longer having to walk a mile to local council pitches for their home games.
“I must also thank our partner clubs: Pendle Forest FC, Barrowford Celtic FC and Colne FC, alongside Pendle Council, for the work they have put into this project.
“We were delighted to have Ben Mee from Burnley FC to officially open the pitch and appreciate him taking the time to do so for our Burnley mad school.”
In addition to the new female teams and Burnley FC’s girls’ coaching, it is expected that Lancashire Sport – a local sports provider – will use the pitch as a venue for ‘This Girl Can’ sessions.
The Lancashire FA also plan to deliver sessions from their ‘Girls United’ programme at the facility.
Ben Mee, who joined Burnley in 2012 and has made nearly 200 appearances since, said: “You could see straight away the benefit that the pitch is going to have – loads of youngsters just enjoying playing football with their mates.
“I remember when I was that age and it’s an important time to practice your skills. That is made a lot easier if you have a quality facility on your doorstep, not a muddy field that gets waterlogged or isn’t floodlit through the winter.”