Helen Grant, MP for Maidstone and the Weald and the former Sports Minister met with the Kent FA today, visiting the Stones' Gallagher Stadium to watch their FA Cup First Round match against Macclesfield Town and to pick up an award in recognition of her commitment to grassroots football.
Helen met with Phil Smith, Chairman of the Kent FA to learn more about how FA and Kent FA investments are widening grassroots participation, improving facilities and supporting player development in her constituency.
National League Maidstone played Macclesfield Town who are currently propping up League Two in the First Round of the FA Cup, the oldest cup competition in the world. At half time Phil presented Helen with a Grassroots Champion award to recognise her support for the game in her local community, becoming the first MP to receive the honour.
Helen was particularly pleased to see the team in action on the outstanding, state of the art 3G pitch at the Gallagher Stadium. Helen played a part in 2014, as UK Sports Minister, in persuading the FA to certify the pitch for use in the FA Cup and the then Football Conference. The resilient nature of the playing surface is central to the club's ability to deliver such a range of grassroots football programmes at the ground.
Helen Grant MP said:
"Grassroots sport is so important to local communities, providing benefits to physical and mental health as well as bringing people together. That is why I was delighted to visit Maidstone United today. It was great to meet some of the staff and volunteers at the club and the Kent FA who make grassroots football possible in Maidstone and the Weald and to see the state of the art 3G facility in action."
Phil Smith, Chairman of Kent FA said:
"Our congratulations to Helen. It is really important that football has MPs standing up for the grassroots game in Parliament and I am proud we have one here in Maidstone in Helen Grant. We are working hard to cater for over 62,500 players of all ages and 15,000 volunteers across Kent and we need as much support as possible to continue growing the game for the benefit of all."
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