Football in Berkshire and Buckinghamshire is set to receive a significant boost over the next 12 months.
New investment provided by The FA, and delivered by the Football Foundation, has been announced that will support the growth and maintenance of 122 teams in the area which is expected to cater for 2,190 footballers in local leagues.
Grow the Game, which was first launched back in 2010, offers grants of £1,500 towards community football clubs wishing to establish new teams and this year focused on catering for female and disabled players.
Retain the Game is a brand-new scheme, which was launched in April of this year, and is targeted at supporting existing adult male clubs to continue offering local opportunities to play. Grants of £750 are made to support the essential costs of playing and training.
A large number of clubs in Berkshire and Buckinghamshire have been successful in securing investment from The FA through the Football Foundation.
Over the course of the next year, Grow the Game will support the growth of 44 female and four disabled teams respectively, while Retain the Game will help to maintain 74 adult male sides in Berkshire and Buckinghamshire.
Funding from both grants can be used to help a club pay for FA coaching courses; FA league affiliation costs; referees’ fees; first aid kits; and even football kit and equipment through a bespoke voucher.
Simon Wears, Football Development Manager at Berk & Bucks FA, said: “Funding from the FA and Football Foundation is vital. to support the growth and retention of the game is so important.
"This particular funding will help provide a real boost to local communities through supporting the growth of new teams and the retention of players from existing teams so that football can continue to be enjoyed by all.”
Danielle Carter, Member of The FA’s Inclusion Advisory Board and Arsenal Women’s Forward, said: “It’s extremely exciting that so many community clubs in England have successfully applied for Grow the Game funding.
“We should start to see increased numbers of women’s, girls and disability teams in parks and facilities across the country, which will hopefully inspire even more new players to take up, enjoy and continue to build the sport amongst these groups.”
Aidy Boothroyd, England Under-21s Head Coach, said: “It’s encouraging to see so many grassroots clubs up and down the country taking advantage of funding available through Retain the Game.
“Whilst the total number of adult male footballers in England has increased over the past few years, it is vital that regular playing opportunities continue to exist with teams in their local areas.
“I hope this new scheme will make a real difference across the country and help to maintain high levels of participation throughout the men’s game.”
Across the two campaigns, The FA has made £2.5 million available to grassroots clubs looking to either create or retain association football clubs for grassroots footballers across the country.
In Berkshire and Buckinghamshire, the Football Foundation’s Funding Partner investment has helped to support the development of:
• Nine third generation artificial grass pitches
• 52 real grass pitches
• 17 changing pavilions
As well as Grow the Game and Retain the Game, the Football Foundation delivers the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund on behalf of the Premier League, The FA and the Government, through Sport England. Since 2000, the Foundation has supported over 16,000 community projects worth more than £1.5bn.