SAINTS star Jose Fonte launched a new flagship sporting hub just a stone’s throw away from the hallowed turf of St Mary’s Stadium.
The defender, who played for Saints against Manchester United, joined youngsters for the opening of the new Saints Hub at St Mary’s CE Primary School in Southampton.
The Multi-Use Games Area (MUGA) facility in Ascupart Street boasts state-of-the-art facilities for pupils and the wider community.
The centre features a floodlit all-weather synthetic surface ball court, providing the perfect haven in one of the city’s most crowded inner city areas.
It was funded by a £79,000 grant from the Premiership club’s charitable arm – the Saints Foundation – and £70,522 from the Premier League Community Facility Fund (PLCFF).
Jose and the football club’s new chairman, Ralph Krueger, attended the ribbon cutting, posing for photographs with excited youngsters raring to get out and show off their skills.
Former St Mary’s Tenants & Residents Association chairman David Bruce who has long fought for better facilities for youngsters also arrived to see the fruits of his hard work.
Saints Foundation head Mark Abrahams said the new pitch will increase local youngsters’ participation in sport and promote healthy lifestyles.
He said: “We are delighted to have played a pivotal role in the completion of the new facility and are extremely grateful to the PLCFF which has ensured that the longterm ambitions of the St Mary’s community have been achieved.
“The facility will be a great asset locally and we aim to ensure it’s a sporting hub for the local community for many years to come.”
Bargate ward councillor John Noon said: “This has taken a huge amount of effort from the Saints Foundation, the city council and most of all the local residents who are trying to improve sports facilities for children.
“These are fantastic facilities for St Mary’s and a great partnership to encourage more participation in sport.”
Saints invests £1 million per year into the city supporting projects for young people, schools, vulnerable adults and those with disabilities.