A special mention for the Football Foundation today, who have hit the mammoth 20,000 mark in the number of free kits they have provided to football teams across England.
Arsenal and England ace Theo Walcott made the milestone presentation of Nike football strips and equipment to St Thomas More Catholic School’s under 14 girls team in Wood Green, North London.
Walcott then helped the girls and other lucky youngsters at the school try out the new kit and equipment by showing off his skills with them on the school’s 3rd generation artificial grass pitch that was built with the help of a £1m Football Foundation grant in 2006.
The Arsenal flyer, who is the Foundation’s official Junior Kit Scheme (JKS) Ambassador, said: “I really enjoyed visiting the youngsters at St Thomas More School and was really pleased to have given out the 20,000th Football Foundation set of kits.
“It is really important that we continue to look after our grassroots and I am pleased that football is doing its part through the Football Foundation – and why I am proud to be one of its Ambassadors.”
2010 sees the Football Foundation reach its tenth anniversary. The event in North London was the first major landmark event to celebrate the first ten years of its history, since it was launched by Tony Blair and then England Manager Kevin Keegan in July 2000.
The Foundation has since supported more than 7,600 grassroots projects worth £875m with money provided by the Premier League, the Football Association and the government.
Let's push things forward
Each of the Foundation's three funding partners currently provide £15m core funding a season and - as revealed in The Club House in December 2008 - the organisation are doing all they can with this money. They just need more of it.
They are an object of best practice for sporting organisations and governments around the world and process the money they receive as quickly as they can to get it out there and help the grassroots football community, but the amount of money they have to work with is nowhere near enough.
Whilst grateful for the £45m they receive - "a lot of money" - Foundation Chief Executive Paul Thorogood admitted that it is still "nowhere enough to do what needs to be done."
With half of the UK's football community playing in sub-standard facilities, there will be a lot of people around the country - Club Website inlcuded - who agree with the Chief Executive.
Let's just hope that the government and football's governing bodies give the Foundation the support they deserve as they move into their second decade.
As Theo Walcott pointed out: “Foundation grants are making such a difference to people of all ages right across the country. It is great to see the Foundation’s work and I look forward to the next ten years of their success.”
And so say all of us.