Paul Jacobs (58) cut the ribbon this morning at the £750,000 John Ferneley College facility, which was paid for from grant funding from the Premier League, The FA and the government’s Football Foundation.
It will be used by the community outside school hours with Asfordby Amateurs FC and Mowbray Rangers’ junior teams training there, as well as pupils from primary schools in the Mowbray Education Trust.
After officially opening the pitch, Paul, who is retiring at the end of the summer term early next month, told the Melton Times: “It was totally unexpected for the pitch to be named after me.
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"It is a brilliant facility for the school and to be recognised in this way is incredibly nice.”
Paul, who is known affectionately at the school as Mr J, was appointed as a PE teacher at John Ferneley way back in 1990 and has since been head of PE and, more recently, sports ambassador for the school.
He said: “When I started at the school it was for children aged 11 to 14 years and there were only 300 students but now it’s 11 to 16 years and we’ve got 1,200 pupils so it’s almost a completely different school now.”
Paul, who lives in the Vale of Belvoir with wife Anne and their daughters Laura and Abi, added: “I am extremely sad to be leaving and will miss so much about working at John Ferneley, particularly the students and all of my colleagues.”
The decision to name the pitch after Paul was made before he decided to retire.
Natalie Teece, head of school, said: “Paul leaves such a legacy at this school so it is only right that we name this brilliant new pitch after him.
"I’ve got so much admiration for everything he has done here, he has always gone above and beyond in his job and he’s such an inspiration to students and staff.”
Mrs Teece said the new pitch would be a draw for prospective future students and an important sports facility for the Melton community as a whole.
"It’s already been well used and it is a really great facility alongside the new gym we’ve recently opened in school as well,” she added.
Mark Whitty, the school’s facilities officer, is in charge of maintaining the surface, which needs to be brushed every week.
It follows the unveiling of Melton Town FC’s new 3G pitch last year, which was paid for by private funding and which will be used by neighbouring schoolchildren and junior teams as well as the club’s first XI.
One of Town’s stars, Paul Anderson, who formerly played for clubs including Nottingham Forest, Ipswich Town and Northampton Town, was impressed with the John Ferneley pitch at today’s launch.
The former pupil said: “It’s an amazing opportunity for students here to be able to use a surface like this.
"It is really inclusive as well because it supports the joints so older people can use it for walking football, disabled children and adults can use it safely as well.
"When I was growing up in Melton I had nothing like this to play on.”