Grow the Game is back for the 10th year in a row with £1.5m available for clubs to turn their aspirations of creating new female and disability teams into reality.
The scheme, which is funded by The FA and Sport England, and delivered by the Football Foundation, prioritises support for traditionally under-represented groups in grassroots football and last year’s edition gave approximately 16,000 people the chance to get involved by creating 884 female and 257 disability teams respectively.
Grow the Game grants of £1,500 will be made available for every new team created, helping to relieve the financial burden on clubs by contributing towards FA coaching courses, first aid kits, league affiliation costs, referees’ fees, new kit or equipment.
New teams across the country mean even more opportunities for both players and volunteers. Nimrah Chaudhry, 16, has benefitted from the scheme by helping to run Barking Abbey Hammers; a newly formed club that was developed alongside the West Ham Foundation and supports children with Special Educational Needs.
After a year of contributing regularly as a volunteer coach for one of its teams, the club has recommended that Nimrah be enrolled onto a national scheme which aims to empower young BAME students to promote inclusion and diversity through sport.
Nimrah Chaudhry said: “The team’s only been running for a year but it’s already had the power to change both my life and the players’ lives at Barking Abbey Hammers FC. They absolutely love football and just wanted the chance to play regularly, which we have been able to provide through Grow the Game.
“None of us would probably be here without this funding and I’m so grateful to have had these opportunities as a result. Grow the Game has had such a positive impact on me and the players in such a short space of time and I would encourage anyone else to take full advantage of it, too.”
Baroness Sue Campbell, Director of Women’s Football at The FA, said: “We want to ensure that women and girls across the country have opportunities to take part in football. Grow the Game has helped towards The FA’s strategic goal of doubling female participation in recent years and I hope to see even more teams being created and supported in 2020.”
Colin Chaytors, Chair of The FA’s Disability Football Committee, added: “Open and accessible opportunities are extremely important in disability football. Funding from Grow the Game can make all the difference to a new team and I would be delighted to see a greater number of clubs reap the benefits this year.”
The application window for Grow the Game is now open and closes on 31 May providing the budget has not been committed by this date.
Clubs seeking more information on the scheme should contact Oxfordshire FA or visit the Football Foundation website.
You can also watch Nimrah and Barking Abbey Hammers’ story by clicking here