Work has started on the new Carmarthen Town AFC 3G all-weather community pitch at Richmond Park, Carmarthen.
The installation of the 3G pitch will be the catalyst for a wide-ranging community programme based around the Welsh Premier League club.
“The club’s intention is to help create a wider community benefit by helping and supporting people to reach their full potential,” said project manager and Club Director Jeff Thomas.
Contractors have moved in to dig up the turf and removed the topsoil as part of work scheduled to cost more than £560,000.
Mr Thomas said the club had succeeded in receiving grant funding for the project from a number of sources.
He said: “We are very grateful for all the support we have received. Plainly, our funders appreciate that the new 3G pitch will be a huge asset for Carmarthen and the surrounding community.”
FAW President David Griffiths said: “This is a major investment in the future of football here in Carmarthenshire and what a time to do it.
“In the last 12 months, through our success in reaching the semi-final of Euro 2016 and then just the other week, hosting the Final of the UEFA Champions League; football has really brought together the nation and also inspired a generation.
“We are delighted that Carmarthen Town, one of our biggest clubs, have bought into the FAW 3G Project scheme in order to provide excellent training and playing facilities to the people of the town and surrounding communities.
“This development is another vital project in our strategic objective of improving facilities throughout the country.”
Project manager Jeff Thomas said: “We have always been recognised locally as a great community club. Our focus has always been much more than just our ground at Richmond Park.
“Our 3G plan includes a community programme with particular emphasis on socially and economically challenged areas of Carmarthen.
“Where we can help these socially and economically challenged areas, we will be able to provide use of the 3G pitch for free, for their benefit.”
Mr Thomas added: “The club’s intention is to help create a wider community benefit by helping and supporting people to reach their potential. It is hoped to increase meaningful voluntary engagement and to provide a learning and development platform.
“The provision of a 3G facility will be essential in attracting young people to take full advantage of the educational opportunities which will become available.”
Partnerships are being forged with organisations including schools, youth clubs, family centres and the University of Wales Trinity St David.
The work on the new pitch is expected to continue into the start of the new football season, but fixture schedules will be arranged so that Carmarthen Town teams play away games until the new artificial surface is ready.
The work is being monitored by the Dyfed Archaeological Trust.
Carmarthen Town AFC chairman Chris Edwards said club officials recognised that there would be a £25,000 annual maintenance fee for the pitch. He stressed use of the pitch would have to be sustainable in the long term.
He added that, based on projected usage, the pitch would need to be replaced after six years at an estimated cost of £180,000.
The 3G pitch will be available for hire to be used by the wider community outside of Premier League match times and other Carmarthen Town training and fixture commitments.
There is expected to be heavy demand to use the 3G pitch and community groups and organisations are being advised to book and register their interested at an early stage.
Anyone interested in hiring the pitch, should email firstname.lastname@example.org