GRASSROOTS. WHERE THE SPIRIT OF THE GAME FLOURISHES
You can hear it as the ball hits 5-a-side court mesh, you can touch it rubbing mud from your children’s knees, you can smell it in the salty air of the beach rugby ‘pitch’, you can see it as eleven sets of arms raised celebrate a goal, you can taste it the slice of half-time orange. It’s the spirit of grassroots sport alive and kicking.
Grassroots clubs are the beating heart of football. Five million children, men and women pull their football boots every week across the country. As well as playing in countless junior and senior league teams, they take part there are thousands of grassroots training schemes in parks, ports centres, schools, schools, colleges and gyms.
The figures don’t include grassroots at street level - casual kickabouts that just require a ball and a couple of jumpers for goal. The beauty of football is that it’s so easy to set up. Once the game gets going players run, kick, dodge, sprint, jump, twist and turn - a variety of exercise that develops agility and coordination. In a typical 11-a-side game, a player runs five miles over the 90 minutes
The grassroots game also promotes teamwork on and off the pitch, as teams socialise together. Many players become friends for life after representing the same team over the years.
Would there be an elite, professional game, if grassroots football didn’t provide the groundwork for the likes of Wayne Rooney and Deli Ali? They both developed their passion and skills as boys in Stanley Park which famously separates Anfield and Goodison Park.
That’s why it’s crucial to invest in the grassroots game. The Premier league spends £168m on community programmes and facilities. The government and FA contribute £12 million through the Football Foundation. Kenny Saunders of Save Grassroots Football campaign believes it should be much more. “Everyone should pay something back for the next generation of kids.”
Says Danny Mills, ex-England defender and FA Commission member, “I’ve been watching my boys go through it for 10 years and they didn’t play from November to February last season because the pitches were unplayable. It’s about creating more and better educated coaches and better facilities for kids to play.” England has 634 of latest full size 3G public pitches costing £550k each.
Compared with five hours a week use for a grass pitch, they which can be used 80 hours a week, including age-group coaching. Germany has 3735 such pitches.Nicky Southall, former Bolton and Notts Forest midfielder says: “More 3G pitches in inner city communities would really benefit children and youngsters. The more you can get them out n the fresh air and stimulated them though sport, the greater the benefits will be in later life.”
Rugby will teach you sportsmanship and teamwork like no other game. You'll test yourself physically and create special bonds with your team mates. It's a fantastic sport for developing all-round fitness as well as skills for life, especially teamwork. Grassroots Rugby is developing at a fantastic rate thanks to the variations on the traditional 15-a-side Rugby Union game. Sevens is a much faster version as it’s played on the same size pitch but with half the players, calling on players’ reserves of speed and stamina.
You don't have to play the full contact version. There are clubs all over the UK that now offer Touch Rugby: you can have all the fun of running, passing and scoring without having to worry about tackling.
A fantastic way to introduce children under 7 and 8 to the game is Tag Rugby.
Instead of tackling, players have to grab tags attached to the ball carrier's waist and shout "tag!". The pressure is then on for the ball carrier - they then have three seconds to pass the ball or lose it. Beach Rugby is a variation of Tag played on the sands for all ages. It can be played in mixed gender teams, but players must be bare footed.
The grassroots spirit of the game, whether football or rugby, is what inspires mysportswear. We specialise in providing teams with the tactical advantage of high performance junior and senior teamwear using the latest technical fabrics and designs.
There’s a psychological advantage, too. If your team turns out in a top brand strip, personalised with number and club crest, complete with colour coordinated suits and hold-alls, you will all feel like winners. Especially if the opposition can’t match you for style.