One of the many pitches located in Pontcanna Fields
One of the many pitches located in Pontcanna Fields

How Cardiff’s ‘messy’ parks pitches are ‘a real problem’ for grassroots football

Holes, overgrown grass and slippery surfaces have left some residents asking for more to be done as council blames financial squeeze

CONCERNS have been raised over the maintenance of some football pitches in Pontcanna Fields and across Cardiff.

Locals have called some of the pitches unsafe and at times unplayable for grassroots football teams.

Cardiff council says the issue has to be viewed in the context of massive financial pressures facing the authority.

One individual who has expressed concern is Nigel Bircham of Pontprennau, Cardiff, whose grandson often plays on the fields as part of a local U14s club.

“It’s a real problem for the future of grassroots football in Cardiff,” he said.

“There are holes in some of the pitches, someone could easily fall and turn their ankle.”

“Wherever you turn it’s a mess, they should look at sport in general and fund it.”

Mr Bircham says that Pontcanna Fields aren’t the only ones that lack maintenance and that he’s come across the same issue in Pontprennau where he lives.

He says that a lack of funding and action from the council is partially to blame for the issues, which include overgrown grass and slippery conditions.

Holes on the pitches fill with rainwater leaving them unsafe, especially for children

“Ensuring our green spaces and sports pitches are well maintained should be a priority for Cardiff Council,” said Pontprennau councillor Joel Williams.

“Pontprennau is blessed to have sports pitches and open green spaces and I’ll continue to pressure the Council for better ongoing maintenance.”

Mr Bircham also pointed to the FAW, stating that they should be doing more to support grassroots teams across Wales, especially following Wales’ first World Cup in decades.

“They talk a good game saying that they will invest but nothing ever happens,” said Mr Bircham.

The grandfather is worried about what this means for children like his grandson as he feels that some clubs receive cash injections whilst smaller teams are side-lined.

“It’s absolutely vital, he lives for his football,” he said.

The Cardiffian has contacted the FAW but has not yet received a comment.

Mark Bowen who regularly referees around South Wales is also concerned about the maintenance of pitches across Cardiff.

“It is the pitches in Cardiff that have caused me the most concern, ranging from poor pitch markings to defects that compromise players’ safety, ” said Mr Bowen.

“I have made the Parks Department of Cardiff Council aware on each occasion. I have also made a number of councillors aware.”

The words ‘Caerdydd Capital for Sport’ painted on the side of Pontcanna’s changing rooms

A Cardiff Council spokesperson highlighted that the issue should be viewed in the context of financial pressures facing the council.

“Next year this council has to find a £53m gap in its budget – the largest ever budget gap – brought about by inflationary pressures and rising energy prices which are being seen and felt across the country,” they said.

“Our aim is to increase the number of 3G pitches across the city, which cost £1m each to build.”

“Despite these financial challenges, the council will continue to work with partners to seek investment in grassroots football, in doing so increasing participation in the sport to strive to provide the best standards of service provision as possible.”