Mayor Jamie Driscoll visited Alan Shearer’s boyhood club to see how investment in football can transform lives and communities.
The North of Tyne Mayor was at Wallsend Boys Club to meet the players, coaches and staff who provide training and guidance to the youngsters who walk through their doors.
They are taught life skills such as good behaviour and discipline, that they can take with them into any line of work.
Representatives of The Premier League charity the Football Foundation were at the famous North Tyneside club to see how work is progressing on a new clubhouse at their Rheydt Avenue playing fields.
Mayor Driscoll said: “I’ve been talking to people from the Football Foundation and from Wallsend Boys Club about how we get more money in an make this place sustainable in the long term.
“It might be called Wallsend Boys Club but there’s woman and girls play here too.
“And it’s about so much more than the football. It’s a community hub. It’s about fitness.
“It’s about a bit of discipline.
“It’s about finding your place in life and discovering yourself, even if you don’t make it as a professional footballer.
“These are the things that make our community strong.”
Wallsend Boy’s Club has seen 92 of its players – including former England Captain Alan Shearer, Michael Carrick, Steve Bruce, Steve Watson, Alan Thompson, and Lee Clark – go on to achieve professional careers.
“If I knew what is the secret of our success I’d bottle it and sell it,” said Club Chairman Steve Dale.
2023 will see the biggest ever level of support for sports clubs and organisations across the country from The Premier League, The FA and Government’s Football Foundation.
Last year was a big year for the Football Foundation, with the country’s biggest sports charity delivering over £68m of funding to a range of projects, transforming lives and communities where it is needed most.
A massive 1,940 grants were awarded including 49 3G football turf pitches, 68 changing rooms and 1,754 goal posts. As well as these 1,700 grass pitches have been transformed thanks to funding available to clubs and organisations.
This year kicked off with a full lineup of support including advice and funding opportunities to help improve grass pitches, opportunities to apply for funding for new 3G pitches and fit-for-purpose clubhouses and changing pavilions as well as floodlights, goal posts, fencing and storage containers.
Robert Sullivan, CEO of the Football Foundation said: “Thanks to funding from The Premier League, The FA and Government, the Football Foundation is going to be the biggest supporter of the grassroots sport both on and off the pitch this year.
“We know that the cost-of-living crisis and recovery from the impact of Covid is being felt at grassroots clubs and organisations across the country so we are determined that we will make 2023 a game changer for facilities across England by providing the biggest pot of funding to date.
“We will be supporting grassroots clubs and organisations in a bigger way than ever before – whether you are looking for new goalposts, or floodlights to shine a light on your brilliant players, a grass pitch that can be used all year round, or a community space that will be welcoming to all, the Football Foundation is here to support you.”