It provides a platform for local clubs all over the country to promote the importance of affordable, volunteer-led community football while giving fans across the country the chance to show support for their local non-league side.
With 639,000 people playing 11-a-side football once a week, every week, and hundreds of games take place up and down the country each Saturday, football places a key role in local communities.
Since 2007 Sport England has invested a total of £118.5 million into grassroots football, and in more recent times grassroots football clubs have benefitted from over £44 million worth of funding from Sport England’s Inspired Facilities, Protected Playing Fields, and Flood Relief funds to help improve and recover facilities so that more people can play more often.
Sport England’s Property Director, Charles Johnston, said: “Many football clubs are the lifeblood of the community, and serve as a hub to many players, volunteers and spectators every week. Our investment into helping these clubs overcome obstacles, such as tired facilities or flood damage, has helped them continue to function and provide a sporting environment that can be enjoyed by all.”
For many non-League clubs there was a very real possibility that they would not have a club this season, owing to the disastrous weather last winter that caused untold damage to sporting facilities.
Two clubs who play against each other on Saturday as part of Non-League Day, Godalming Town and Aylesbury, were both awarded Emergency Flood Relief Funding from Sport England – one of 43 football clubs to receive financial assistance following the winter floods.
Godalming Town received two grants totalling £27,656, including an emergency grant to clean-up the clubhouse and changing facilities, and a larger award to improve access to the club’s facilities and install flood prevention measures. Aylesbury were awarded £6,172 to repair two grass pitches and a set of goalposts that were damaged by the flooding.
Minister for Sport, Helen Grant, said: “Non-league day celebrates the strength of non-league football right across the country and the importance these clubs have to their local communities. I have seen first-hand the fantastic work my local club Maidstone United does in the town and surrounding area, bringing the community together and people young and old into the game, whether as players or as volunteers. Sport England’s investment plays a crucial role in ensuring that amateur and semi-professional football continues to thrive.”
Sport England’s investment into football doesn’t just include facilities as later in the month, either Nottingham, Manchester or Portsmouth will be awarded £1.6 million to be announced as the ‘City of Football’. The money will be given as part of a two year pilot to find new and innovative ways to encourage all ages and genders to play football on a regular basis.