Lack of facilities and the development of new ones for building football clubs and development centers has been one of the most critical challenges faced by grassroots football. The following case study outlines one club’s journey in the development of their facilities.

History: Setting up Yorkshire Lions

The Yorkshire Lions was initially set up to serve its local area, which desperately needed a local club. The area in question is classed as a deprived area with an ethnically diverse population. The club’s focus was not aimed at one specific ethnic group but in opening channels to anyone who may have limited access to other clubs and facilities.

As a club run by an Asian Committee, it gives Asian parents a feeling of reassurance that their children will get a fair opportunity to play football and learn through this experience.

“The key to the success of the club is that many of the parents today were once kids themselves that may not have had the opportunity to play for a team, possibly because their parents wouldn’t have allowed it, or even clubs not willing to try them out.”
Bal Singh, Club Member

The Yorkshire Lions Club is very aware of these issues and strives to ensure an open, friendly and welcoming environment for all young people – regardless of colour, race, religion and ability.

The Club aims to provide every participating child with the opportunity to play football. This inclusive ethos led to expansion of the club, which caters for 200 children. Initially the club had the children willing to play football but was lacking in the necessary facilities. Hence they set up their own grounds and clubhouse to cater for the growing need. The site they had earmarked was an old football site that had been used many years ago by another club and had fallen derelict over the last 4-5 years.

Following the decision to get funding to develop the site, the SYSF initiated dialogue with a number of key partners including the Football Foundation and the Local Council. After much work the SYSF were successful in their bid and were awarded £600,000 grant from the Football Foundation – the UK’s largest sports charity. The grant will allow the Sikh Youth Sports Foundation (SYSF) to restore the Warrenside Sports Complex, creating a new changing pavilion and seven new pitches at the ground for hundreds of young players to use every week. From the start to end of the project it has taken SYSF 5 years to make their vision a reality.

You need a very dedicated team of volunteers to move and progress this type of project forward. The process of writing documents, going to review meetings etc is very time consuming and also consumes finances. Talking to people early on will help any group hoping to do the same.
Bal Singh

The key lessons all grassroots football groups can learn in developing facilities such as are:

  1. The need to develop and maintain a successful partnership with key organisations including community groups, local authorities, and funders.
  2. The wider involvement of the community including local parents is crucial in developing a successful bid and project.

The SYSF is a great example of what can be achieved with dedication, hard work and a network of key partners to create a facility which will greatly enhance football and sport opportunities for all.

For more information on applying for Football Foundation Facility funding go to www.footballfoundation.org.uk

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