A FAMOUS former referee has given his seal of approval to a new football league following the unveiling of a new memorial pitch.

Braintree Council bosses unveiled the Calum Leys Memorial Football Pitch in Halstead last week.

The pitch was named in honour of the former Ramsey Academy teacher who died of cancer at the age of 56 in May.

The former school PE teacher was much-admired in the community and worked at the school for 15 years as Deputy Headteacher and more recently as Head of School.

Now, with the pitch fully operational, a new football league by Leisure Leagues is being formed for residents to take part in.

The £750,000 pitch will play host to the new Halstead community six-a-side football league.

The Monday league will be played at the pitch, which is based at the Halstead Leisure Centre, and is being backed to become a staple of sporting life in the town.

League organisers are also saying it is the perfect way for people to get back in to the sport after months of inactivity and damaged physical and mental health during to lockdown.

The league has also been backed by former referee Mark Clattenburg.

Mark is regarded as one of the most respected officials and refereed some of the world’s biggest matches including FA Cup finals, Champions League finals and countless Premier League matches.

With the new league kicking off this month, Mark said: “I am delighted to be a part of the Leisure Leagues family, and help their leagues both in the UK, throughout the world, and at the extraordinary international tournaments which they organise on a world level.”

The league has already seen a surge in support with just a few spaces left for new teams.

Area manager Ashlee Parker added: “We have worked exceptionally hard to see the league’s Covid-safe and we are looking forward to getting everyone moving again.”

Leisure Leagues, a not-for-profit provider, also confirmed teams will be competing for big prizes.

The revamped Leisure Leagues prize draw has already seen thousands of pounds of prizes given away ranging from city breaks to Adidas football boots and a Segway Safari.

For more information, visit leisureleagues.net/league/halstead-leisure-centre/halstead-monday.