A NEW group has been formed to bring football leagues in the borough together to boost the game at amateur level.
The East Lancashire Football Development Association was formed after all three major leagues decided to show a united front – and now they are working alongside the local council to tackle the problems faced by football at grassroots level.
The Blackburn Sunday Football League, Blackburn and District football Combination and the East Lancashire Football Alliance – one of the biggest junior leagues in the county – have joined forces with Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council.
Together they are hoping to improve existing facilities in the area, look for new playing areas and attract funding.
Bill Maynard, fixture secretary of the Blackburn Sunday League, is the chairman of the newly formed ELFDA group.
He is delighted the leagues and the council are on the same side as it looks to secure junior and senior football in the area for many years to come.
“In fairness, we have always had a good working relationship with the Blackburn and Darwen Borough Council,” said Maynard. “And after discussions with the Council it was obvious to all that we all had the same objectives and that by working together we could stand a better chance of attracting grant funding to develop the game of football for all ages, and provide better facilities.”
The joint initiative believes other sports and the wider community will benefit from improved facilities across the area.
Maynard added: “This will come in different ways as we work together to improve the facilities we already have. “We will also be looking at new projects which in turn could help improve facilities for all sports and also work more closely with the council to identify new facilities and work closely with local communities.”
The group and the council are also working alongside The Lancashire FA, Blackburn Rovers, Rovers Trust and Sporting Assets Limited who are assisting with the development of an asset management strategy where running costs can be more easily managed.
A pre-feasibility study grant from The SIB Group for £9632 has been awarded to carry out study work on possible grants for further investment in improving and creating new pitches for the borough.
The group has a wealth of experience to call on.
Craig Wilkinson, secretary of the East Lancashire Football Alliance, is secretary of the ELFDA while Frank Riley has been named treasurer.
Bill Maynard and Colin Brindle from the Blackburn Combination, John Haworth and Harry Scott from the Blackburn Sunday League and Peter Thornley and former Rovers player Paul Round complete the ELFDA committee.
“We are a official organisation with a management committee with a cross section of expertise that we can use in our work for the group,” added Maynard. “But more importantly, we all have a sound base of the needs of the local grassroots game with the knowledge built up over many years commitment to the game we all love.
“We have the drive and desire to carry the game forward and attract other sports bodies to improve the health and well being of all who want to participate in their chosen sport whether it be as a participant or a organiser or volunteer.”
Damian Talbot, executive member for Leisure at Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, said: “We are delighted to be working with the East Lancashire Football Development Association to help improve grassroots football in the borough.
“This is a very exciting partnership and we are committed to working closely together to secure the future of the game for many years to come.”