Young people in Sheffield tested their flicks, tricks and shooting skills at the official opening of the new Jupiter Play interactive kick wall this weekend in Lowfield park.
Sheffield City Council, Football Unites Racism Divides (FURD) and Sheffield United Premier League Kicks revealed the new equipment, which forms part of the current Lowfield U-Mix programme.
The wall, which features interactive games, light up skills training and target practice has been installed to support football skills development, improve access to sport and encourage more local people to enjoy being physically active, as well as creating better facilities and higher usage at Lowfield Park.
The wall was created by Yalp and installed by Jupiter Play & Leisure. Users can also download the Yalp Sutu app to track records, scores and progress and take part in friendly competition, motivating them to keep coming back and improve their skills.
Sheffield City Council worked in partnership with Sport England, the FA and FURD, Sheffield and Hallamshire County FA and local stakeholders to deliver the project, which was funded by Sport England Grant and S106.
Councillor Mary Lea, Cabinet Member for Culture, Parks and Leisure at Sheffield City Council said: “We are proud to once again work with Sport England and the FA to achieve our shared priorities of increasing participation in sport and making football accessible to everyone. Because football is for everyone, regardless of age, gender, race or background, and we fully support our partners, FURD, who are strong advocates for equality in the game.
“I’m really impressed with the football wall, which combines fantastic technology with movement, a truly innovative conception for the digital world we are submersed in today. I’d like to thank all partners involved in making this happen and after seeing how much everyone has enjoyed it, I know it will be very popular amongst local people.”
The project, which cost £46,500, was funded by a grant from Sport England for £42,500 and £4,000 S106 contributed by Sheffield City Council.
Charles Johnston, Property Director at Sport England said: “Sheffield’s U-Mix centre at Lowfield Park provides a quality experience which encourages activity across all age ranges and we’re pleased that our investment in the Interactive Football Wall contributes to this. We’re delighted to see the U-mix centre benefitting from this exciting new facility which uses interactive games to provide accessible opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to have fun and get active.”
The new wall at Lowfield park has extended the football facilities already on site at the U-Mix centre, which opened in 2013 and is run by FURD in partnership with Sheffield City Council.
During the opening day, young players from professional clubs’ football foundations in the region took part in a 6-a-side football tournament. FURD brought exhibitions relating to a number of Black professional footballers throughout history and their contributions to football, with experts on hand to bring the stories to life. Members of the community came along to try out the new wall and get involved with Black History Month activities.
FURD help to bring people together from different backgrounds to play, watch and enjoy the game, and to break down barriers created by ignorance or prejudice. They provide a safe environment, without the fear of racial abuse and harassment, in either a verbal or a physical form. Their aim is to increase the participation of people from ethnic minorities in football, as players, spectators or employees.
As well as launching the new interactive football wall, the event on Saturday was part of Black History Month celebrations, and football’s (anti-racist) weeks of action, aiming to both raise awareness and celebrate some of the world’s first black footballers; in particular Arthur Wharton – the world’s first Black professional footballer – who played for Sheffield United in the 1890s.
The interactive football wall at Lowfield Park is free to use and open for everybody. Training sessions are planned for the future more details will be available soon.