About a week ago now, Nottingham was awarded the first ‘City of Football’ title, ahead of other fellow finalists Portsmouth and Manchester. These three cities were selected by Sport England as contenders due to their commitment to promote sport from the grassroots level.
What this award means is Nottingham will be given £1.6m in National Lottery funding to run a two-year pilot programme to create new ideas to get more people, mostly those aged between 14-25, playing the national game of football.
There is currently a growing concern about the amount of people playing the game at grassroots level, as participant numbers have fallen from 2.2 million in June 2012, to 1.8 million in December 2013.
Phil Smith, Director of Sport at Sport England, said: “Nottingham has an exciting and inventive response to the challenge of getting more people to play the game and we will look forward to working with them to make this happen.
“Nottingham was simply the best – it was a terrific bid.”
This is an exciting time for Nottingham Forest and Notts County because one of the main focal points of developing football in England is right on their doorstep, and hopefully they’ll be able to take advantage of what it produces, whether that be players or something else, to develop their own sides.
Mr Smith said the £1.6m will be spent on a variety of projects including new sporting facilities and the digital service, helping to reach young people through their smartphones.
One way which Nottingham hopes to entice more people to participate in football is through a digital platform called ‘Playbook’. This ‘Playbook’ will help promote football activities around the city and bring more people to the sport.
The city also has a month long Festival of Football planned as well, creating playing opportunities in more urban spaces and using social media to connect players.
Nigel Cooke, head of One Nottingham, which promotes the city, said: “Over the next two years, we will create new football partnerships; develop new technologies; encourage more people to play, especially 14 to 25 year olds, women and girls and people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds; and share our learning so that the rest of England can benefit from our insight.”
Team Nottingham, who are working alongside Forest and County said: “We will make it as easy as possible for people to get to their game.”
“If football isn’t delivered to them in their community, then public transport will take them there at an affordable price. We’ll create freedom and flexibility for football players to enable them to play.”
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