There has been much media coverage of the 50th Anniversary of the victorious 1966 World Cup winning team and I for one never tire of seeing Geoff Hurst belt in the fourth goal. Not that I need to see it as the image is indelibly scorched in my memory along with Kenneth Wolstenholme’s iconic commentary. How many of the current squad representing England in France this summer have relived that moment as a child growing up, pretending to be Geoff Hurst and Kenneth Wolstenholme in the same moment? And where did all this happen? On a local playing field where, for most of us, our love for sport began.
For many of us sport has been a defining force in our lives, it has taught us the great lessons of life, it has created friendships for life, it has enriched and is extending our lives. But without a pitch to play there is no sport. Where would Kane, Ali, Hart and the rest be without a playing field to start their journey? Playing fields aren’t just where sport starts, for the gifted few they are where careers start. So when cheering another England victory this summer just remember the role that playing fields played in creating that memorable moment.
The people who founded London Playing Fields Foundation back in 1890 recognised this and realised that more had to be done to protect those places where sport could be played. Fast forward 126 years and we’re still here but the pressure on green space is just as great as it was at the turn of the 20th century. Back then the LPFF was indebted to the generosity of City Parochial Foundation (now Trust for London) for supporting its work. Today one of the main benefactors is London Marathon Charitable Trust. Most of us are aware that the London Marathon is the best long distance race in the world but fewer people will know that it is also the biggest single fundraising event. Since 1982 the Trust has transformed the landscape of grass roots sport by distributing £52million to a whole range of sports projects throughout Greater London and beyond. In addition, it sets funds aside to rescue major playing fields at risk of being lost to development and, over the last sixteen years, has safeguarded the long term future of three fields in association with London Playing Fields Foundation at Greenwich, Redbridge and Greenford. In doing so it has enabled us to widen, increase and sustain sports participation through the provision of accessible, affordable and attractive facilities.
The Foundation recently opened a new 3G pitch at Peter May Sports Centre in Walthamstow thanks to grants from the Premier League and FA Facilities Fund and the good old London Marathon Charitable Trust. And guess who was the guest of honour? None other than Harry Kane who was coming home to where it all began for him. As a young boy Harry had grown up on the ground and this is where his love of football was fuelled and his precocious talent developed. So when Harry plays for England I wonder if his mind goes back to those hours of practice at Peter May Sports Centre when, after finding the net yet again, he was heard to commentate “some people are on the pitch…….”
So join us in our mission to provide a place to play sport forever and help our kids live the dream.