Sports

Why Robbie Savage felt compelled to launch foundation for underprivileged kids

Football should be accessible to every child, regardless of ability or background.

And access to free grassroots facilities should be a level playing field, not a postcode lottery or a question of privilege.

That’s why I was so proud to launch The Savage Foundation this week – a project offering physical activity in a safe, fun and engaging environment in the local community.

In partnership with Andrew Law of the Law Family Charitable Foundation, starting in March, every child between five and 12 years old will be offered free coaching delivered by selected volunteers and qualified coaches, at Macclesfield Football Club.

Andrew shares the same ethos as me – a level playing field for all kids – and we are looking to roll it out across the country. Within 24 hours we’ve already had four serious enquiries about doing that.

Robbie Savage launched the Savage Foundation this week

Many of you will know I have tried to be a champion for grassroots sport during lockdown because that’s where my football career started out.

But I also recognise there are households who may not be able to afford the registration and playing fees that come with playing for affiliated clubs.

It is not my intention to break up teams at local grassroots clubs – but to make sure every kid gets an opportunity to play football for free.

We have a fantastic community asset at Macclesfield FC in the shape of an artificial pitch, so why not give as many youngsters as possible a chance to enjoy it?

The world has changed in the last 12 months, and not for the better. Lockdowns have denied hundreds of thousands of kids access to football and, with no organised physical activity as an escape, some are becoming addicted to X-Boxes and Playstations.

Robbie Savage wants to give every child the opportunity play on great facilities, with top coaches

I’m particularly thrilled that Sport England have commended The Savage Foundation’s commitment to giving children positive experiences, tackling inequality and connecting communities through sport.

The FA’s head of development, James Kendall says we will have “a really positive on young people… sharing our strategy to deliver the game for all.”

And Connect Sport have endorsed our commitment to eliminating barriers for children from disadvantaged backgrounds, increasing their confidence and promoting the importance of physical and mental well-being.

I’ve been overwhelmed by messages of support, and I’m grateful to Macclesfield owner Rob Smethurst for allowing us to use his facility for nothing.

I’m a campaigner for grass roots because I am a product of the grass roots system and I would like every child to have the same opportunities I was lucky enough to enjoy.

And I know the kids want to play – because when we opened up Macclesfield for a couple of open training sessions at half-term, 600 of them turned up.

Once lockdown is eased, there are plans to run homework clubs and, hopefully to expand the project to include more age groups.

Sports Minister Oliver Dowden says grass roots sport was the last thing closed down before lockdown – and it will be the first thing opened up again, so let’s be ready for the green light when it comes.

Why are we doing this? Because we can!

Thank you to everyone who has given The Savage Foundation such a warm welcome.

*To apply, visit www.thesavagefoundation.com




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