Premier League footballer Shandon Baptiste has returned to his old school in Tilehurst for a special reason.

The Brentford footballer arrived at Denefield School today (Wednesday, January 26) to officially open their new 3G sports pitch.

The 23-year-old professional, who previously played for Reading FC and Oxford United, said he was delighted to be back. 

He said: “It’s always nice to be asked back by the school so I’m really happy to be back."

The sportsman, who has made 14 Premier League appearances this season as a midfielder for Brentford, said of the school: “It’s changed a little bit but I would’ve like this 3G pitch, it would’ve helped me, but we still had fun times here.

“Hopefully the kids use it and enjoy it.

“It’s massive because it gives them a way to play through any weather.

“As much as they can use it and be on it playing, they will all be what they want to be.”

Headteacher at Denefield School, Edwin Towill, said: “We are delighted to be providing this fantastic facility that not only the school can enjoy, but the community too.

“We are off to a flying start with Barton Rovers and Westwood Wanderers and have capacity for more teams or clubs to use the pitch.

“It was a big project that will yield great benefits for a very long term, and we are extremely grateful for all the support we received to bring this vision to life.”

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The synthetic pitch cost £730,000, covered by a range of funders including £150,000 from West Berkshire Council using cash from the Community Infrastructure Levy.

It is used daily by the school and has become home to two football clubs, Westwood Wanderers and Barton Rovers at evenings and weekends.

A grant toward the cost was supplied by Football Foundation.

Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, Robert Sullivan, said: “This grant awarded to Denefield School towards the 3G playing pitch is great news for the local community.

Reading Chronicle:

“We’re working closely with our partners – the Premier League, The Football Association, government and Sport England to support facility development projects like this across the country over the next decade to transform our grassroots game and unlock the power of pitches.”