German supermarket chain to invest £10m in FA, SFA and FAW skills programmes over three years
Lidl has been announced as the lead grassroots football partner to the Football Association (FA), Scottish Football Association (SFA) and Football Association of Wales (FAW) for the next three years.
The discount supermarket chain says it will invest more than £10m in coaching and skills up to 2018 - including the FAW's first ever skills programme - providing around 1.5 million opportunities for children to play football each year.
The German company also becomes the official supermarket of the England team and the official supplier of selected products to both the Scottish FA and FAW.
Ryan McDonnell, purchasing director for Lidl UK said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for Lidl and one that we are both excited and extremely proud to be a part of. We look forward to building successful partnerships with the English, Scottish & Welsh FAs in developing, the sport at both national and community levels.”
The programme, which launched in 2007 and employs 158 full time coaches in 50 skills centres across England and reaches over 1,000 primary schools a year, is closing in on its eight millionth skills place.
FA chief executive Martin Glenn said: “Lidl have joined us at an exciting time as we focus our efforts on supporting the grassroots movement through better facilities and coaching. The Skills programme is a great opportunity for young people to get involved in the game, hone their talents and have fun.”
The FAW hopes the programme will make a "significant contribution" to achieving their participation targets, which include getting 50% of young people (200,000) playing football once a week by 2024.
FAW chief executive Jonathan Ford said: “We are extremely excited to welcome a brand such as Lidl within our partner family. Lidl are committed to help develop the game on a local level - increasing participation of children and developing the next generation of young coaches and leaders. The Play More Football programme is the first of its kind in structure and will be a great platform for Lidl to engage with families.”
In Scotland, hundreds of Lidl Skills Centres, run in partnership with local authorities and senior clubs across the country, will provide opportunities for boys and girls of all abilities, aged five to 12, to enjoy the game in fun, friendly and safe environments.
The nationwide network will also incorporate the 12 current Scottish FA 2020 Development Centres - rebranded as Lidl Advanced Skills Centres - which provide the link between grassroots and the elite game. The network will also include a number of girls-only Lidl Skills Centres.
Jim Fleeting, director of football development at the Scottish FA, said: “Grassroots football in Scotland will benefit from this exciting partnership with Lidl and we are grateful for their support.
"The Scottish FA’s community scheme will deliver a wide range of participation initiatives, including equality, diversity and inclusion, through our network of partners. These areas will be enhanced greatly and we look forward to working in partnership with Lidl to achieve the collective objective of increasing football participation across Scotland."