0 Working on a budget and the importance of grants

We spoke to volunteer groundsman, Tom Banks, to find out what it is like working on a budget and the importance of grants from The Football Foundation for grassroots clubs.

Tom has been the volunteer head groundsman at his local football club, Kirkoswald Football Club, for the last eight years and he reflected on how tricky it is to manage work, rest and play as a volunteer.

"I would say the main challenge of a volunteer is the time you get to prepare for a game. For example, if the weather is bad, the pitch could sit all week without being prepared until the morning of the game. Throughout summer, I need to cut the pitch every three days, which can be a big ask for someone who works a full-time job and has a family as well. Some people don't realise how much you have to do in your own time. The team turn up play and leave, but I am sometimes there three hours before."

He expressed the importance of remembering that the club is grassroots level and not Wembley: "You need to be mindful that you are a grassroots club and not a Premier League club, plus I am a one-man team at times. I think all grassroots volunteers do a really good job and sometimes that isn't appreciated."

Tom is busy doing renovations at the moment and he analysed how it is going so far. "The renovation side of things is pretty stressful. You kind of have to align the stars when you are getting contractors in.

Preparation for renovations has gone well and, thankfully, the weather has been on our side this year. We got the sand down as soon as that arrived, and contractors came and spread it for us, before seeding and subsequently waiting for some rain."

He spoke about how The Football Foundation grants have helped greatly with resources and offered support. "We started off by getting a one off pitch grant for £2500, which was amazing as we have never had anything like that before. It allowed us to do things like scarification and verti-draining, which we could never undertake because of budget."

"From that we got into the grant scheme; we got a machinery grant which allowed us to buy a new tractor and other bits of useful machinery. The Football Foundation funded about 75% of that and they are such a huge help for grassroots clubs. Before the grants, we had to beg, steal and borrow anything we could to maintain the pitch. It is nice to see some money filtering down from elite level football."

"Allowing youngsters to play on quality pitches will hopefully help them fulfil their potential and develop local talent."

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Contact Kerry Haywood

07973 394037

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