Alongside Howdens, England Football have launched their second ‘Game Changer’ application window for clubs to apply to improve their kitchen facilities.
Essex clubs can follow in the footsteps of the likes of Witham Town FC, whose refurbished kitchen area is close to completion. The scheme will see the kitchen company aim to fund £3m worth of kitchens over three years for England Football Accredited grassroots clubs.
Howdens will work with England Football to support and fund the kitchens. Together, they’ll help to connect eligible clubs with local tradespeople, for the fit, via the 800 Howdens depots across the country. The programme has already provided better kitchen facilities to help clubs make their matchday experience more enjoyable, and to increase revenue opportunities.
Mark Nicholls from Witham Town FC, was thrilled with his club’s grant (image below), reacting: “When the grant first became available, we thought it won't be us, we won't get one. Our old, outdated kitchen, which has served us well, had run its course. We would simply not be able to afford another one. But, just like that old saying... you have to be in it to win it! And win one we did!”
“We started the application process, which we found easy to fill out, summitted and eagerly awaited the outcome. The E-Mail to confirm we had been successful gave everyone at the club a massive lift. Things like this inspire our exceptional team of volunteers who give up so much of their time to push even harder. This new kitchen now means a better matchday experience for spectators and better hospitality for visiting teams - from our Under 7s to our Over 45s.”
“Our Soccability section can also have lunch after training on Saturdays. And what can you say about the superb service from Howdens? Witham Branch Manager, Ross Wheeler, designed the layout and went over every detail of the process. Within a week, our set of drawings came over and one of our volunteers said: "that's not our kitchen!" I said… well, it will be!"
“We split our new kitchen into four phases and completed phase one only last week... what a transformation! Any club looking at the grant should just do it. The grant paperwork is easy, the Essex County FA are there to help and Howdens will be on-hand to take you over the whole process.”
Carrie Barfoot, Essex County FA Facilities & Investment Officer, is delighted to witness this facility investment, commenting: "The Howdens Game Changer Programme is a great opportunity for clubs to improve their kitchen facilities and increase their secondary spend on-site, to raise vital funds for their club. We can help support clubs with the application process.”
“Those who've been through the first phase of the Game Changer Kitchen Programme have been highly-complimentary of Howdens and the service they've received. The new kitchens we are seeing in Essex through this programme are fantastic!"
Football legends Jill Scott and Chris Kamara recently lent their support, driving home the importance of grassroots football and clubhouse facilities on their own careers. Scott explained: “I have so many fond memories both on and off the pitch. Over the years I’ve visited hundreds of clubhouses and it’s fair to say the kitchen facilities have certainly varied!”
“From a tiny counter at Boldon Girls - my first club - where I used to spend 20p on a bag of mixed sweets after the game, to a bar serving hot food, including my favourite post-match treat… pizza! The kitchen is the hub of the club, bringing together players, supporters and the wider community, and that’s why I’m so pleased to be involved with the Howdens Game Changer Programme, where grassroots clubs all over the country are set to benefit.”
Kamara added: “When I started out, clubhouse facilities were pretty basic! I went to many a tournament with just a bag of crisps and some water to keep me going, hoping that the manager would remember to bring the fruit for our half time snack.”
“And, if we won, we’d often stop off at the chippy on the way home! Thankfully, we’ve come a long way since then, but many clubhouses still need help to improve much-needed facilities. So, the new kitchens from Howdens will make a real difference to grassroots clubs and bringing local communities together.”
Find out if your grassroots club is eligible, or view the product ranges, by reading the guidance information below. You can also apply on behalf of your club by following this link. The application window will close on Wednesday 31st January 2024.
Howdens ‘Game Changer’ Kitchen Facility Grants with England Football
Buckhurst Hill FC
Heybridge Swifts FC
Maldon Saints FC
Witham Town FC
Academy Soccer FC