Since the unveiling of our second state-of-the-art 3G pitch six months ago, The New Croft has received accolades as a beacon of community engagement, earning praise from key figures at Suffolk FA and the Football Foundation.

The £1.3 million floodlit 3G pitch was officially opened by Arsenal player Mohamed Elneny last December, marking a significant milestone in our commitment to fostering community spirit through sport.

With the generous assistance of an £825,000 grant from The Football Foundation, the project materialised into a hub of activity. Rob Sullivan, CEO of The Football Foundation, expressed pride in our achievement, hailing The New Croft as a “flagship site” for its seamless integration of football club usage and broader community activities. He said: “In terms of the balance between football club usage and broader community activity this is a flagship site that we are very proud to have funded.”

pitch o[ening

Richard Neal, CEO of Suffolk FA, echoed Sullivan’s sentiments, emphasising the monumental growth under the stewardship of The New Croft CEO, Pete Betts. Richard said: “For Pete and his team to have grown a club of 50 plus teams, which is one of the top two biggest clubs in Suffolk – the other being in Lowestoft – to have grown a club of that ilk in Haverhill is enormous, it can’t be overstated.

“Just imagine that this wasn’t here in Haverhill, a growing community, housing going up all over the place, that to me is a frightening prospect. The work that Pete and his team have done, is spearheading the way in Suffolk and East Anglia and across the country.”

Tom Harrison, chair of Haverhill Community Sports Association (HCSA), which has managed the New Croft since it opened in 2008, said: “So far it’s been an astonishing success, probably more than anyone ever thought it would be.”

Lois Balfour, the head of the New Croft Foundation (launched last September to improve the lives of individuals through a blend of health and wellbeing, football, and sporting activities) and football development manager, outlined how many activities are held every week due to the new 3G.

From dedicated football sessions for girls and accessible football for individuals with disabilities to Mini Kickers and Skills Centre for budding young talents, each day witnesses a flurry of activities catering to various age groups and abilities.

Moreover, our commitment to special educational needs (SEN) is exemplified through weekly football development sessions and tailored programmes at local schools, reinforcing our ethos of inclusivity and accessibility.

The presence of esteemed guests, including Nick Timothy, Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate for West Suffolk, and Duncan Jenkinson, Football Foundation Delivery Manager (East), underscores the widespread recognition and support garnered by The New Croft in fostering community growth and well-being.