A COMMUNITY football scheme that saw more than 1,000 new female and disability teams created across the country last year is returning to encourage even more people into regular football participation.
Grow the Game, which is delivered by the Football Foundation and funded by The FA, was first launched in 2010 to provide clubs with funding for the creation of new teams and chances for aspiring footballers in the local community to play.
Since launching, the scheme has helped to create over 11,000 new teams, delivering new playing opportunities to an estimated 144,000 community footballers.
The scheme will provide an investment of £1.5m to traditionally underrepresented groups in community football and give further playing opportunities in new disability, women’s and girls’ teams in the process.
Grow the Game grants of £1,500 will be made available to every new team created, helping to relieve the financial burden on clubs by helping towards FA coaching courses, league affiliation costs, referees’ fees, first aid kits or even kit and equipment. In 2018, the scheme helped to support the growth of 872 female and 294 disability teams respectively.
Suffolk FA Football Development Manager Jodie Allard said: “The Football Foundation’s Grow the Game scheme has been a valuable asset to support the creation of new teams for clubs within Suffolk, and we are really pleased to hear that it’s returning for the 2018-19 season.
“Across the last two funding windows, just under £50,000 has been access by Suffolk clubs to support the creation of 33 new teams within the grassroots game.
“These funds, in combination with the hard work and dedication of our clubs and leagues, has resulted in a thriving local offer for disabled and female participants who wish to play the game. I would encourage any clubs looking to develop a female or disability team to look to this fund to support them with their plans for growth.”
The application window for Grow the Game is now open and closes on Thursday, March 28th. Clubs seeking more information on the scheme should contact Jodie Allard on 01449 6166065 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Football Foundation website
Phil Neville, England Women’s Head Coach, said: “Given both my professional and personal backgrounds, this scheme is particularly close to my heart. I work with some fantastic professionals in the England Women’s Senior Team and know that playing for their country has been a dream come true.
“Providing as many opportunities as we can for girls and women to get involved in the game is crucial if we are to continue developing the women’s game at all levels. If this scheme can help inspire more women and girls to play football and provide them with the opportunities to chase their dreams then it deserves to be applauded.
“Secondly, as a father of a daughter with a disability, I firmly believe this should never act as a barrier to sports participation. I’m delighted to learn of the growth in the number of disability teams across the country, and the further funding that has been made available to support future development, giving more people than ever before the chance to get involved in the game.”
Alex Greenwood, England and Manchester United Women’s full-back, also praised the scheme: “Having joined Everton academy at eight years old, I was lucky enough to have access to top quality coaching and regular football from such a young age.
“However, I know plenty of girls that were never able to access the same footballing education that I was because the number of opportunities simply weren’t there. It’s therefore incredibly important we make sure this is no longer an issue going forward and that if girls want to play competitive football they have ample opportunities to do so.”
In addition, existing male adult clubs & teams will also be able to apply for financial support from The FA, with the return of the retention-based scheme called Retain the Game.
The scheme, which launched for the first time last year, helped to support over 2,300 male teams, with grants given to help provide financial support for clubs across the country. The scheme will launch again on Wednesday 17 April.
As well as Grow the Game, the Football Foundation uses investment from Premier League, The FA and the Government, through Sport England, to provide enhanced sporting facilities across the country. Since 2000, the Foundation has supported over 16,500 grassroots projects worth more than £1.5bn.