Saturday 07 September 2013
With the international break this weekend fans of the Barclays Premier League are being encouraged to continue their love of the game by attending a non-league match close to them or their favourite club.
The Premier League has been supporting non-league football for a number of years, not just in improving their facilities but also in helping these clubs to build closer ties in their communities.
"Without Premier League funding our community work would be much more limited"
Jane Spong, Woking
The Premier League pledged £6m in solidarity funding for the three seasons from 2010/11-2012/13. Of this annual sum of £2m, £800,000 was provided in conjunction with the Professional Footballers' Association and committed to the Football Conference Trust to whom all 68 Conference clubs could apply for youth development and/or community programmes.
For the three seasons to 2015/16, the funds from the Football Conference Trust has risen to £900,000, of a total of £2.3m pledged in solidarity funding. With the Trust, clubs in the Skrill Premier Division can apply for £20,000 each season, while those in the Skrill North and South Divisions can apply for £15,000. By the start of last season 50 Conference clubs had accessed more than £1m of this fund to help them with 100 projects that encourage them to become an important part of their communities.
The Trust had also helped to attract more than £1m in additional matching funding towards these project costs. These projects have reached 11,800 people so far, of whom 7,000 are under 11.
Jane Spong is Woking FC’s Community Coordinator and readily acknowledges that Premier League payments have helped the club to broaden their community work.
“Premier League support helps us to respond to the needs of the wider community,” Spong says. “For us ‘community’ means everyone. We work in disadvantaged areas with people with mental health problems, children with learning and behavioural difficulties and we have projects for the elderly.
"We spend a lot of time in schools delivering football sessions but we also help spark children’s interest in core subjects such as maths.”
Woking was named Conference South Community Club of the Year for 2012. “We won because of our local impact and the diversity and scale of our community work,” Spong says. “We aren’t afraid to push the boundaries."
This year Woking won Blue Square Bet Premier Community Club of the Year award
"Community work is not just football," Spong says. "We learn and try new things but we only add initiatives if we know we can sustain them. Without Premier League funding our community work would be much more limited.”
To find the closest Non-League matches to you this weekend, visit the Non-League Day website.