With 66 days to go to the 50th anniversary of England winning the World Cup, The FA has announced it will make 66 individual awards of £1,966 to grassroots projects throughout the country.
It’s one of a series of initiatives The FA is running or supporting to commemorate England’s finest footballing moment – and the people who made it possible.
The grant initiative has been appropriately named '66 for 66', and will see the bulk of the £1,966 grants made via the 50-strong County FA network, to ensure project-funding throughout the country. That’s also because – although attention understandably focuses on Wembley, where England won the World Cup – the tournament was hosted by the nation in eight different stadia countrywide.
“We’ve had a host of nominations from County FAs, grassroots clubs and community groups from across the country from funds generated from last season’s FA Community Shield between Arsenal and Chelsea,” said Barry Bright, chair of The FA Council.
“Beneficiaries include Ramsgate FC in Kent, who will spend their money improving access for wheelchair users in their clubhouse.
"Another grant is being made to the Army FA, who aim to increase female participation by organising a series of small-sided games and offering training sessions and football kits. There’s also the Westmorland County FA in Cumbria, who will be repairing some of the damage done to their clubhouse by Storm Desmond earlier this year.”
Apart from grants made via County FAs, the remaining grants will be made centrally by The FA.
Examples so far include a grant to Fulham FC to help fund the sculpting of a statue of George Cohen MBE, England’s right-back in the World Cup win. Cohen spent his entire club career at Craven Cottage and the statue will appropriately stand outside the stadium.
Shahid Khan, Fulham chairman, said: “We are hugely thankful to The Football Association for its generous donation of £1,966 to our own George Cohen fundraising campaign. The FA’s support underlines that George Cohen, while a Fulham legend, is also a timeless hero to all of football in England.
“Funds matched from the campaign will be used to set up dementia care and men’s health programmes managed by the Fulham Football Club Foundation. This will provide an ongoing legacy within the Fulham community that we can all be proud of, and we of course wish The Football Association great success with the 1966 commemoratory celebrations."
Acknowledgments of this commemorative year began back in January with an event held at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington to mark the 50th anniversary of the World Cup draw in 1966.
Overall, the ’66 for 66’ initiative ensures there is an FA legacy from the series of activities and events taking place this summer. These kicked off last month with ‘Football Shirt Friday’ last month to raise funds for the Bobby Moore Fund into bowel cancer research. And two nights ago, Wembley hosted the world premiere of ‘Bobby’ – a poignant film about the life and untimely death of England’s World Cup-winning skipper Bobby Moore.
Further activities and events continue through the summer, culminating in ‘World Cup 66 Live’ – a minute-by-minute recounting of the afternoon when England scaled the pinnacle of world football. This event will be staged on the actual anniversary, Saturday 30 July, at the SSE Arena in Wembley and will feature live footage from the day, interviews with many who were there – and live performances of the hits of 1966 by some of today’s top musical acts.
Tickets are still available for this event at www.wc66.org