Grassroots footballers start petition calling for safer pitches

Grassroots footballers are petitioning for safer pitches and better changing rooms after finding facilities in a “disgusting” state.

Divino Royals FC set up a petition on the website after they were shocked by the state of the pitch and changing rooms at Victoria Park in Portslade.

The petition, which has more than 400 signatures so far, said that teams faced damaged goals, holes in the pitch and disgusting changing facilities, having paid an £85 hire fee.

Divino Royals goalkeeper Kieran Reilly said that when the team arrived at the park in Victoria Road for the first game of the Sussex Sunday League season, they were shocked.

He said: “We took one look in the changing rooms and it was clear it hadn’t been cleaned for a good year. The toilets were in a complete state. It was just disgusting.”

During their first match, he said, a player on a neighbouring pitch was hurt because of the poor state of the playing surface and taken to A&E.

Mr Reilly said: “Injuries are our main concerns. People are losing interest in playing grassroots football. Football is a massive help for some people who are suffering with their mental health.

“It’s the social aspect if you miss something because you don’t want to risk getting injured. They’ll end up staying in bed on a Sunday and not seeing their friends.”

With three matches being played at Victoria Park on a Sunday afternoon, and with teams paying £85 a time, Mr Reilly asked why the £255 was not going back into pitch management or the changing rooms.

Labour councillor Amanda Grimshaw is backing the petition having seen the poor conditions while watching a match at East Brighton Park.

She said: “Teams pay £85 for the use of council pitches for every home match, without the use of changing rooms or showers, meaning players have to change in the open on public playing fields.

“I know that in youth football, they get charged less than half price due to the lack of facilities, so why do adults get discriminated against?

“The mental health and anxiety for everyone is on the increase, so surely everyone should work together.”

The petition titled Improve the Quality of Grassroot Football Pitches around Brighton and Adur Area is also directed at Adur District Council, where the Divino Royals also play.

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