Meet the community clubs & coaches
As Papa John’s launches its six-figure community fund to support grassroots football, a group of clubs and coaches have come together to highlight the important role of grassroots clubs within the football pyramid.
A squad of community clubs, that helped launch the careers of current England internationals including, Marcus Rashford, Harry Kane and Steph Houghton have joined forces to raise awareness for Papa John’s ‘Get on the Pitch’ campaign, a community fund to support grassroots football.
The clubs came together at Highgate United FC, once the team of Premier League star Jack Grealish, and the representatives met to discuss issues that surround their clubs. With the effects of the pandemic still ongoing, their financial future was high on the agenda. Estimated market values today from www.transfermkt.com suggest the total worth of these players that have come up through their ranks, to be approximately £450 million and these local heroes work incredibly hard to keep their clubs afloat year on year.
The Papa John’s ‘Get on the Pitch’ fund, fronted by ex-Premier League footballer and TV personality Jimmy Bullard, will see local clubs all over the UK able to apply online for a chunk of the £100k on offer to make improvements to their local club. From goalposts that need replacing to clubhouses that require a lick of paint, Papa John’s community fund is looking to lend a hand to nearly 12 million people in the UK that are involved in the grassroots football game. Jimmy has filmed a piece of content to launch the fund, which can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLbbdlYEH0Q
It’s not just players that can benefit, from equipment for grounds-persons and training for match officials, to improved facilities for those serving refreshments, the fund will look to encompass all aspects of the beautiful game for everyone to enjoy. Players, coaches, club committee members and ground staff can all apply for a slice of the action via the designated Papa John’s website: www.papajohns.co.uk/pitchit
Additional clubs involved include Ridgeway Rovers, responsible for the early careers of former England captain David Beckham and current skipper Harry Kane. The Essex based club continue to support their community via football.
Speaking on the club Ian Marshall, Club Chairman said: “The pandemic has been a massive challenge to everyone, but especially grassroots football clubs. We have seen clubs that we regularly play against folding at a worrying rate, so campaigns like this one that supports grassroots clubs are key in our quest to get back to normality as soon as possible. Some of our players have struggled with lockdown, so it’s been great to see them out playing and training again in the past few weeks.”
Fletcher Moss Rangers, the Manchester club that kicked off the careers of England duo Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard also joins the discussion. Amir Khan, Trustee Treasurer and U12’s coach said: “The past year has been incredibly difficult for all grassroots sport, not just football. Financially, there’s been a strain on our club with league invoices to pay as well as pitch fees, all this despite no money coming in. We also have many coaches who require mandatory training courses, but these obviously haven’t been running.
“Since we were allowed back our community soccer school has thrived, with girls and boys from many diverse backgrounds making new friends out in the fresh air in a safe and fun environment. This is undoubtedly the most important aspect of what we do.”
Giles Codd, Senior Director of Marketing at Papa John’s said: “We’ve brought this group of incredible people together to highlight the financial disparity that exists between grassroots football and the top level of the game that is seen by millions all over the world. Without vital training and coaching from grassroot teams, players wouldn’t have the solid foundation to go on to become the talented stars that they are today.
“Our ‘Get on the Pitch’ fund aims to helps give clubs like these a lift after what’s been a catastrophic year for grassroots. At Papa John’s we know this is just the start and we’re looking forward to amplifying our support for grassroots football via our EFL and SPFL partnerships moving forward.”
The full list of clubs involved includes:
Ridgeway Rovers: The Essex based club that has looked after David Beckham and Harry Kane since it was formed in 1979.
Senrab FC: An East London club responsible for launching the careers of the likes of former England Captain, John Terry and more recently rising star, Ezri Konsa.
Glebe FC: Where Arsenal youngster Emile Smith-Rowe began his career before moving to academy level.
Boldon Girls: The girls club based in the North East which has seen the likes of Steph Houghton, Demi Stokes and Jill Scott play for them.
Highgate United FC: The Birmingham based club that once had Jack Grealish on their books.
Fletcher Moss Rangers FC: A club that serves the Manchester community, Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard both played for them.
Handsworth Boys FC: Everton talisman and England newbie Dominic Calvert-Lewin played for this Sheffield based club as a youngster.
Killamarsh Dynamos FC: The club where England Women star Millie Bright kicked off her career.
Stocksbridge Steels FC: The Sheffield based club where Jamie Vardy spent six and a half years before becoming the first Non-League player to be transferred for over £1 million.
Penistone Church FC: The Barnsley based football club where John Stones played briefly as a young boy.