Entain has enhanced its support for grassroots non-league football by boosting its Pitching In initiative, with the financial support from the operator topping £1 million.
The extension of the initiative will see the FTSE 100 sports betting and gaming operator contribute a further £150,000 to the Trident Community Foundation (TCF), a project coordinated by the clubs of the three Trident Leagues – the Isthmian League, Northern Premier League and Southern League.
A multi-million pound programme aimed at investing in grassroots and non-elite sport, the Pitching in programme is organised by the Entain Foundation and is the focal point of the company’s headline partnership with the TCF.
The partnership commenced in December 2020 in the middle of the 2020/21 season, when many non-elite clubs were struggling with the financial implications of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Entain initially made a £150,000 donation via the Entain Foundation, with the stated goal of creating a ‘strong sustainable community programme that will help clubs develop young talent, promote non-league football to a wider audience and attract volunteers’.
The company’s commitment to the programme was reiterated in March of this year, with the firm assuring both clubs and stakeholders that the community funds for non-league teams would continue despite the Trident Leagues decision to abandon the season.
“The new Pitching In investment couldn’t come at a more challenging time for the grassroots football community,” said Stuart Pearce, Pitching in Ambassador, former England Captain and Manager of the 2012 Team GB Olympic men’s football team.
“Non-league football clubs faced unprecedented effects on their finances from the Covid-19 pandemic and many clubs continue to struggle to stay afloat. Entain committing to further funding of non-league teams will make a big difference to hundreds of clubs, thousands of players and hundreds of thousands of fans across the country.
“The Trident Community Foundation demonstrates the true meaning of Pitching In and strengthens existing bonds within communities across the country. I look forward to seeing non-league clubs thrive so that the future generation of football fans can experience and enjoy the game at grassroots level.”
The 2020/21 season saw the TCF provide grants to 27 clubs to run community coaching projects, expanding girls’ football, strengthening health and wellbeing initiatives for five to 16 year-olds and further develop community football infrastructure.
A total of 245 football clubs can access a grant application process through this season’s Pitching In programme, coordinated by the Pitching In Isthmian League, The Pitching In Northern Premier League and The Pitching In Southern League.
The TCF aims to ‘support, develop and improve the delivery of community programmes’ to its member football clubs, and financially assist with small and medium-sized projects.
“The Trident Leagues are delighted with today’s announcement of the next round of funding from the Trident Community Foundation,” said Nick Robinson, Isthmian League Chairman; Mark Harris, Northern Premier Chairman and Anthony Hughes, Southern League Vice Chairman, in a joint statement.
“This latest phase of Entain’s Pitching In grassroots and non-elite sports investment programme is critical for the future of non-league football. Our clubs are at the heart of their local communities and this funding will provide them with the means to strengthen those links.”