October 3, 2011
ASB Football Park officially opened in Christchurch on Sunday, providing a boost to Canterbury’s football recovery and marking a significant milestone in a plan to improve football facilities around New Zealand.
The laying of a state-of-the-art all weather football turf at ASB Football Park, formerly English Park, is a FIFA Goal project funded by the Christchurch City Council and FIFA and is one of the first major construction projects completed following the Christchurch earthquakes.
It is just the second FIFA Goal Project completed in New Zealand following the opening a similar pitch at North Harbour Stadium in 2007. Work on a third FIFA Goal Project is due to start in Wellington later this year.
The new facility – which will also house NZF’s Southern Region Technical Centre, Mainland Football offices and act as the home ground of Canterbury United in the ASB Premiership – was officially opened by Mayor Bob Parker and Oceania Football Confederation President David Chung before a day of junior football displays, celebrity matches and presentations to former internationals.
“This is a milestone for football in Christchurch and for New Zealand Football. It is my sincere pleasure to represent FIFA and Oceania Football Confederation to officially open these tremendous facilities that will be of significant benefit for the development of football in the region, particularly for the grassroots and youth,” said Chung.
FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter also sent his well wishes to the people of Canterbury.
“I am honoured and delighted that – after these very challenging times – the Christchurch Pitch is being inaugurated. It is an outstanding centre, one that is ready to be used and of great value to both New Zealand’s national teams and the country’s youngsters, who need new pitches and infrastructures to play the game they love,” said Blatter.
An investment of $1.065 million from the Christchurch City Council and a $535,000 grant from FIFA, administered by New Zealand Football, funded the project with Mainland Football also a key partner in the joint venture.
Mainland Football Federation estimates that over 50 teams and upwards of 700 players and coaches were not involved in football in 2011 as a result of widespread damage caused to grounds by earthquakes in September and February. The availability of an all-weather park will alleviate some of the pressure on other grounds while providing a hub for the roll out of key development programmes.
New Zealand Football Chairman Frank van Hattum said working with local bodies to improve availability and access to facilities underpinned New Zealand Football’s Whole of Football Plan, a wide-ranging blueprint for improving the quality of New Zealand’s largest participation winter sport.
“Facilities remain football’s biggest barrier to growth and success,” said van Hattum.
“Projects like this don't ‘just happen.’ They take vision, commitment and perseverance – attributes shown by all partners here. The results will speak for themselves. ASB Football Park is an outstanding facility and a model for other cities to follow.”
Local use of ASB Football Park begins on October 10 while Canterbury United’s first home game in the ASB Premiership is on Sunday 6 November.