Football focus: Cedars scores big after netting nearly £1million

Watford FC

You’d be forgiven for thinking Watford FC’s only local focus is winning the FA Cup down the road at Wembley later this month.

But the charitable trust behind The Hornets, working with Harrow Council, has also helped Cedars Youth and Community Centre achieve its goal of having more space for activities and better facilities – thanks to nearly £1 million of government and sports funding.

Rita Taylor, widow of England manager and Watford FC legend Graham, cut a ribbon with Hornets’ goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes to unveil the three new rooms – seven years after her husband officially opened the community building.

The extra space will be used for training courses such as FA First Aid, safeguarding, coaching and the prestigious Premier League Kicks community sessions, as well as being made available for community groups and events. Harrow Mencap is already confirmed as a full-time occupant at the site.

Councillor Christine Robson, Portfolio Holder for Young People and Schools, said: “The way I see it, football is a game of two halves - and Cedars is a facility with two goals.

“This huge investment is a ‘back of the net’ moment for both the football-focussed business part of the centre as well as the wider Harrow community, who might not otherwise have access to such fantastic sports facilities. It puts us at the top of the community centre league and shows what power partnership can have.

“Even if Watford don’t win the FA Cup, they certainly deserve a community shield.”

It was made possible after netting a £635,540 grant from the Football Foundation, £150,000 from London Marathon Charitable Trust, £20,000 from The Bernard Sunley Charitable Foundation and   £110,000 from Watford FC Community Sports and Education Trust. Work began in September.

Steve Williams, Head of Facilities and Inclusion at Watford FC’s CSE Trust said: “Firstly thank you to Rita Taylor and family for officially opening our new extension at Cedars Youth & Community Centre alongside Heurelho Gomes, who has always ben such a great ambassador for our work here.

“This work will help us continue to improve the lives of those in our local area and for that I would like to thank our funders; Premier League, The FA and the Government’s Football Foundation, London Marathon Charitable Trust and the Bernard Sunley Charitable Foundation.”

Brazilian Gomes was also presented with a cake to thank him for his commitment to the community. He has made many visits to the Centre over the years and is a great role model for local young people, Mr Williams added.

The state-of-the art Cedars Youth and Community Centre already boasts an outdoor  Astroturf pitch, an indoor sports hall and a community gym. It is environmentally friendly with a solar wall, green roofs and rainwater harvesting.

The late Graham Taylor OBE officially opened the refurbished Harrow venue seven years ago after a partnership between the Council and Watford FC’s CSE Trust.