Northampton Town FC open community pitch at Sixfields

A League One football club has officially opened a community pitch in the shadow of its stadium.

Northampton Town FC Community Trust launched the facility at Sixfields Stadium with showcase matches before Saturday's game with Burton Albion.

It is the club's prize for winning last year's More than Football Award.

The Europe-wide scheme honours the best social initiatives in the sport and the Cobblers were recognised for their work on a project to combat loneliness.

Phill Smith, chief executive of the trust, said the pitch would serve as a "fantastic legacy to the award-winning work we are so proud to deliver".

The new floodlit pitch features a synthetic surface and has been kitted out with the club's colours and crest.

Mr Smith said: "It gives us extra space to deliver a wider array of activities on site, both on matchdays and during the week so that we can continue to support even more people."

He said the "community asset" would be open to the public when not being used by the club.

Chairman Kelvin Thomas said the "fantastic" new pitch was "testament to what we do as a club".

The trust developed its prize-winning Tackling Loneliness project during the first Covid-19 lockdown to support older fans who were at risk of experiencing isolation.

More than 1,200 people were contacted and it expanded to online quizzes and pen pal schemes.

The project now provides activities and opportunities for people to get together in person.

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