TV personality Ben Shephard put his boots on last weekend to support the award of a series of grants by the Football Foundation to increase football participation in London.
The Goals on Sunday presenter, who is an ambassador for the charity, presented a cheque to Putney Town Football Club before joining in a training session with the squad. Asked whether he’d be willing to join the team after impressing during training, Ben replied that he’d love to, but he works on Sunday mornings!
The Grow the Game grant will allow Putney Town FC to increase the number of male football teams at the club and increase the participation levels by 80% over two years.
The core objective of the Football Foundation’s Grow the Game’s programme is to increase participation and enable more people to play our national game through supporting the development of grassroots clubs. The programme is delivered in partnership with all of the 46 County FAs and funded by The FA and Government.
So far this year, Grow the Game has awarded 21 separate grants worth over £100,000 to grassroots football clubs in London.
Analysis of the monitoring and evaluation so far predicts that this will result in the creation of 73 brand new football teams competing in FA-affiliated leagues with 1,127 new players participating each week.
The key strength of Grow the Game is that its participation increases are sustainable rather than transient. Its grants create a solid infrastructure of teams and newly-trained coaches in which new people can start playing the sport, rather than simply providing temporary activity sessions, which are then vulnerable to drops in participation once the programme ends.
Ben Shephard said: “The boys here are trying to increase participation so they can have two teams playing on a Sunday.
“Last season, they reached three semi-finals and came second in the league. Hopefully the money from the Football Foundation will help them build on that success next season.”
“I am lucky enough to work at the top of the game, covering the Premier League and Champions League. None of that would happen without the grassroots game.
“The better our grassroots football is, the better the chance England have of winning an international tournament.”
John Bedford, Putney Town FC Secretary, said: “We were delighted to receive funding from the Football Foundation to aid the development of our club. The money will fund coaching courses, equipment and has allowed us to have a pre-season coaching session with a UEFA-qualified coach.”
Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said: “I congratulate Putney Town Football Club for receiving this Grow the Game grant, which will increase sport participation and support football development in the region. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Surrey County FA for their help in making this happen.
“Our Grow the Game scheme helps fulfil one of the Foundation’s core objectives, which is getting more people playing more football. It is predicted that over 14,000 new players will play football as a result of the 312 Grow the Game grants awarded this year.”
The Football Foundation is the country’s largest sports charity, launched in 2000 and funded by the Premier League, The FA, and the Government (via Sport England). Since then it has awarded around 8,000 grants worth more than £420m towards improving grassroots sport, which it has used to attract additional partnership funding of over £520m.
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