Utilita news / 18/12/2020

The Grassroots Fund: Supporting Grassroots Heroes

Published 18/12/2020


With the Covid-19 crisis set to drag on into 2021, it’s never been more important to support grassroots football.

Our 'Stay of Play' research shows that one in 10 clubs fear they may be forced to close as a result of the pandemic.

Worrying days indeed.

That’s why we’ve got together with Team Grassroots to set up the Grassroots Fund – powered by our Energy High 5 campaign – to help clubs the best we can during these uncertain times.

The Fund offers no-nonsense, no-strings-attached support for grassroots clubs and leagues and for all those magnificent volunteers who work tirelessly to keep football going, underpinning the values of the grassroots game in local communities.

 

Described as “the voice of the grassroots football community’, Team Grassroots have been around for seven years. From humble beginnings, they now work hand in hand with the likes of The Football Association, Show Racism the Red Card and Fans For Diversity/Kick It Out.

Paul Kirton, Founder and Managing Director of Team Grassroots, said:

“When we first started we were laughed at by football’s governing bodies. People thought there was no need for an independent grassroots organisation – but 7 million hits in a week proves otherwise.
“These days we’re involved in multiple campaigns with The FA and other footballing stakeholders and we also discuss upcoming policies relevant to grassroots football.”

Team Grassroots came to our attention when we were compiling our State Of Play Report on the devastating impact of Covid-19 on the grassroots football community -  and we immediately hit it off.

A football match made in heaven, you might say!

Paul recalled:

“I was contacted by Utilita to help with some stats and, when I asked why, they said it was because they cared about the state of grassroots football.
“I made a throwaway comment, saying: ‘If Utilita really mean that, then let’s get round the table and set up a fund for those who need help most.
“I didn’t think it would result in anything, but 24 hours later Jem Maidment (Chief Marketing Officer) got in touch and I met with him and James Heyes (Partnerships Manager).
“From the very first conversation, you could tell Utilita got it.”

Grassroots sponsorship is nothing new, although normally it’s a set of balls or a snazzy new strip that teams are crying out for.

But keeping clubs Covid-safe is a costly business (particularly when fundraising and sponsorship has dried up), so Utilita and Team Grassroots are helping out by putting together essential COVID support packs containing disposable face masks and gloves, hand gels, wipes, visors and a thermometer gun.

Already we have supplied free packs for all the London FA leagues - and Cornwall could be next in line...unless the vaccine dramatically changes things.

We're also sponsoring the Grassroots Hero and Thank You awards, recognising the army of club volunteers who willingly give up their time to keep clubs and their communities thriving. We’ve even put a light-hearted spin on things by giving a shout-out to all those brilliant Football Mums!

Paul added:

“It’s easy to forget that, with 11 million people involved, grassroots football has the largest movement of volunteers in this country.
“There are some countries that don’t even have 11 million people!
“Because of Covid, clubs have been unable to raise money through fundraisers and tournaments, but at the same time they’ve been burdened with the added cost of risk assessment and keeping their Covid hygiene up to date.
“This is a time to put out a helping hand, not kick them when they’re down – and Utilita get that.”