Culture secretary Nicky Morgan spoke passionately about the government's plans to invest £550m into grassroots football and Playfinder is fully onside with this commitment to create a happier, healthier society through sports.
As the UK's leading search and instant booking platform for recreational sports, Playfinder understands the vital importance that regular sports play in nurturing good mental and physical wellbeing. An FA survey of around 9,000 amateur players used a "Wellbeing Valuation" and found the additional social benefit of grassroots football was £8.7 billion.
Football is the most popular grassroots sport with 12m people in the UK participating and it has an unrivalled ability to engage with all. The women's game is enjoying unprecedented growth as our data post World Cup this summer revealed a 204% increase in bookings for women's football from the eight weeks leading up to the tournament to the eight weeks following its kick-off on 7th June. Walking football is on the march too as it resonates with the older generations and disability groups.
The £550m government pledge will be ring fenced for 2,000 new 3G pitches and for upgrading 20,000 grass pitches. Germany and the Netherlands are winning the turf war as they have more than 5,000 and 2,000 3G pitches respectively compared to England's 750.
Once these new pitches are installed it is imperative that players can access the facilities and make use of these pitches. Boris Johnson talks of unleashing Britain's potential, but for that access to these football pitches needs to be unlocked. Sports bring people together and helps defeat physical inactivity, which costs £20bn a year.
Plenty of work has been done already to increase access to sports facilities through Playfinder's partnership with the Football Foundation. They invest £60m every year into grassroots sport and are increasingly focused on enabling facilities to become digitally accessible. It's a start, but shockingly still only 35% of sports venues are bookable online according to the Sport and Recreation Alliance.
Playfinder's innovative bookings system directly tackles this issue by providing venues with a digital presence to help them be easier to access and as a result take more bookings.
Jamie Foale, Co-Founder of Playfinder, followed: "It was hugely encouraging to hear the government talk so passionately about the impact sports have on creating a happier, healthier society. However, the £550m investment into facilities will not have the impact required unless people are able to find and book them easily. Our platform does exactly that and with the Euros and potential World Cup 2030 bid, these will help ensure people are playing regular sport for years to come."