HUNDREDS of talented young footballers are set to benefit from a grant to improve the state of their pitches.

Tiptree Jobserve Youth Football Club have received £5,000 from the Pitch Preparation Fund to spend at their Warriors Rest base.

The club have five pitches there which are used by 17 teams, from three and four-year-olds to those in the under-18 side.

Chairman and secretary Jonathan Dalton said: "It's an absolute godsend and the money will make a huge difference.

"We're a registered charity so any money we get to spend on our pitches comes solely from fundraising, generated by a small team of hard-working volunteers.

"Receiving this amount is therefore a really big deal for us as a club but also for the whole Tiptree community.

"It's a huge sum of money and it'll allow us to start working on our pitches as soon as possible.

"They're pretty cracked and arid at the moment, because of the dry weather, but now we can aerate and spike them, as well as buying some much-needed seed, fertiliser and equipment.

"We don't know when grassroots football will return at the moment but hopefully when it does, the pitches will be in tip-top condition and our young players will enjoy the benefits."

Tiptree Jobserve's youth players train at Thurstable School, in Maypole Road, and then play matches at Warriors Rest on Sunday mornings.

Mr Dalton described the venue as a "hive of activity" at the weekend, with as many as nine different matches taking place.

"We've got 280 to 300 children registered with us so when you add in the away teams and supporters, there's a lot of footfall there on a Sunday morning," he said.

"It's quite a sight and we can't wait for things to get back to normal, so everyone can start enjoying our pitches again."

The Pitch Preparation Fund has distributed £7 million across the country and was set up by the Football Foundation, Premier League, the Football Association and Sport England.

Jobserve were one of nine clubs across the Witham constituency to receive a total of £28,000 of funding, with others including Tollesbury FC, Stanway Rovers and Stanway Villa.

MP Priti Patel encouraged clubs to apply for the funding.

James Kendall, director of football development at the FA, said: “It’s fantastic that clubs in Witham have benefited from the Pitch Preparation Fund.

"The FA, alongside funding partners the Premier League and Sport England, recognise the important role grassroots clubs will make as the country emerges from lockdown.

"This fund, which has been brilliantly coordinated and distributed by the Football Foundation, will help them to be ready for that moment."