A community football scheme which 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 in Essex.
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 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.
Phil Neville, England Women’s Senior Team Head Coach, said: “Given both my professional and personal backgrounds, this scheme is particularly close to my heart. Firstly, 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.”
“If this scheme can help inspire more women and girls whilst providing opportunities to chase their dreams then it is wholly worthwhile. Secondly, as a father of a daughter with cerebral palsy, it’s imperative that disability should never act as a barrier to sports participation.”
Alex Greenwood, England and Manchester United Women’s full-back, also praised the scheme: “Having joined Everton’s 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 who 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 and 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. Launched for the first time last year, it 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 17th April.
As well as Grow the Game, the Football Foundation uses investment from the 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, including many in Essex.
The application window for Grow the Game is now open, and closes on Thursday 28th March. Clubs seeking more information on the scheme should contact their local Essex County FA Football Development Officer or visit the Football Foundation website.