Utilita news / 28/09/2020

Switch Before Pitch

Published 28/09/2020

Over the weekend we launched a new initiative called Switch Before Pitch with the help of former England goalkeeper and environmentalist David James.

The aim of Switch Before Pitch is simple: To save thousands of grassroots football clubs – who have been badly hit by the coronavirus crisis - from extinction. Much like our Energy High Five movement (which has already helped over two million households save money by being more energy efficient), Switch Before Pitch will encourage grassroots football players and their families to be more energy efficient, save money and help to keep their clubs afloat.

Underpinning the campaign is our State of Play Report which highlights the dire situation that thousands of grassroots clubs are facing (with a staggering 4000 at risk of extinction) and the impact this will have on young people and communities across the UK.

We’ve already seen that this has serious issue has struck a chord across the UK, with Good Morning Britain, Sky Sports News, Sky News, and BBC News featuring the campaign and its ambassador, David James, whilst the national print media has also given Switch Before Pitch it’s support too.

What is Switch Before Pitch?

We’ve supported grassroots football over the last 4 years and understand the vital role they play in communities across the UK. We’re now taking action to support them further as they face the biggest crisis they have ever faced. Based on the findings of our State of Play report, which you can read HERE, a staggering 10% of the UK’s 40,000-plus grassroots football clubs said they will struggle to survive the next 12 months as a direct result of the coronavirus crisis.

Switch Before Pitch – with former Liverpool and England goalkeeper David James as its ambassador - will draw attention to their plight, give them a voice and persuade key stakeholders to act.

But we also want clubs to help themselves, that’s why we’re focusing on energy saving – much like our already established EnergyHigh5 movement.

We want to educate clubs and players and show them how much kit they could afford if they follow tips like switching the heating down one degree. This saves £80 a year per players and £880 per team – enough to buy a football strip (£250), training tops (£180), first aid bag (£25), ten training footballs (£80), two goals (£250) and team trophies (£95).

Why is it so important?

We’ll hand you over to Switch Before Pitch ambassador, David James:

“The Prime Minister Boris Johnson said only this week that ‘sports clubs are the life and soul of our communities’ - and he is right. Grassroots football clubs play such an important role and everything that can be done to support their existence right now, should be done.

“This campaign will help clubs focus on saving and raising money, but most importantly, it will educate everyone it reaches about the simple ways we can all use less energy wherever we are, which will impact our pockets, and most importantly, our planet.

“Using tangible examples of what saving energy can buy, such as bibs, or a pair of new goals, is smart – poor or missing equipment can mean the difference between a game being played or not at grassroots level, so affording everything a team needs is crucial.”

And it’s not just about children playing football and clubs hoping to discover the next Raheem Sterling or Harry Kane. It’s about the health benefits – physical and mental – of regular exercise, the social element, learning life skills and pitching in to help each other out.

What’s more, millions of adults benefit from the above too – whether they’re enthusiastic amateur players, or just keen for some social interaction in the bar while watching a game.

For us, Switch Before Pitch is simply an extension of the great work already undertaken in our partnerships with football clubs and community organisations across the UK.

How can I get involved?

If you’re a parent with children at a grassroots club, check out the Switch Before Pitch website page HERE to see how you can back the campaign. The same goes if you play adult football. Even if you don’t, what’s stopping you from giving a little bit of your time to help a vital community asset?