THE Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester has welcomed two local football teams to its grounds.

Players from Swindon Town Academy’s Under 18s and Under 16s teams have been invited to train all year round on RAU pitches.

In return, the university has been able to invest in improvements to the pitches and sports facilities at its main campus on the outskirts of the town.

The campus is already home to the local Stratton Youth football club who started to use the university’s facilities for some of their training and matches last season.
Use of the pitches by the two local teams is scheduled to fit around RAU students' sports activities and matches. 

Swindon Town Academy manager Alex Pike said: “Until now, Swindon Town Academy didn’t really have a base so it’s fantastic for us to finally have a home! 

"We have used various different grounds over the past couple of years but, until now, we haven’t had anywhere permanent.
“To be able to have everything we need, for training and matches, here, instead of carrying it all round with us, has made a real difference to the coaches and training staff, as well as to the players. 

"As well as the great pitches and facilities, the RAU has a real family feel to it and it’s very special for us all to be part of that.”
The Swindon Town Academy players train twice a week – on Tuesdays and Thursdays – using the university’s existing 9-a-side, 7-a-side, and 5-a-side pitches, and matches take place most Saturdays. 
When the academy has finished for the day, players from nine different Stratton Youth Football Club teams use the pitches, which flank the university’s tree-lined main driveway, for their evening training sessions and Sunday morning matches.
Stratton Youth Football Club chairman Jon Cummins said: "The opportunity for our club to use the outstanding facilities at RAU has enabled many more local youngsters to improve their technical skills as well as make new friends.

“It has supported more than 60 children to have access to regulated matches and high-quality training who we would have been unable to support due to a lack of pitch space.
“The added benefit of being alongside Swindon Town’s Academy programme provides the perfect chance to tap into their expertise and enable any high performing players to go into an elite pathway.”

RAU chief operating officer Graham Pollard also coaches Stratton Youth’s Under 9s team, which his son plays in. 

He said: “Sport can play a significant role in bringing communities together and we’re proud that the RAU is able to help enable this through our facilities."