Could a new South Ribble football pitch propel youngsters to the top of the game?

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Young footballers will have more opportunity to “make memories” after a popular South Ribble club was told that it could kick off a long-planned expansion.

Lostock St. Gerard’s FC will get a new pitch on land close to its existing ground off Wateringpool Lane. A 50-space car park will also be created to help alleviate problems on surrounding roads.

The Lostock St. Gerard's ground on Wateringpool Lane

The Lostock St. Gerard's ground on Wateringpool Lane

South Ribble Borough Council’s planning committee approved the plans, which will be paid for by money secured from housebuilders granted permission for developments in the area.

The club has several youth teams ranging from under-6s to under-18s and has recently been approached about the prospect of forming a girls’ side.

Volunteer coach Darren Webster told committee members that the club had been struggling to cope with demand.

“We pride ourselves on making memories for children and the teams are growing and need more space.

From left to right - Gary Watson (committee member), Phil Tinsley (club chair), Elizabeth Roberts (parent of youth player) and Darren Webster (coach and parent)

From left to right - Gary Watson (committee member), Phil Tinsley (club chair), Elizabeth Roberts (parent of youth player) and Darren Webster (coach and parent)

“We start them off on a path and guide and nurture them for 10 or 11 years - it’s a way of life for them. I’d ask you to take account of the children coming through, because that’s what we’re doing this for,” Darren added.

Mum Elizabeth Roberts said her son’s involvement with the club had transformed him from a previously shy youngster.

“The social benefits it brings to their lives is enormous. My son gets to integrate with lots of boys he wouldn’t necessarily meet at school.

“Then there is the conflict management - [a team] doesn’t work if they fall out, so they have to get along. It also keeps him off his XBox and anything that does that is great,” she said.

The new pitch will be constructed to the FA-recommended pitch size and will include retractable four metre-high safety netting. But the facility will only be used during daylight hours as it will not be floodlit. The car park will be created to the north of the expanded playing area.

Speaking after the meeting, club chair Phil Tinsley said the added space would make a “phenomenal difference” to youth players.

Club committee member Guy Watson also wondered whether the development would help him achieve a long-held ambition.

“I’d like to see one of our lads make it all the way to PNE - just once in my lifetime,” he said.

The club is also now appealing for new volunteers and sponsors to help it make the most of its expansion.