As people across the UK welcomed the return of grassroots football, a cast of home nation stars joined BT Sport to shine a light on the importance of the grassroots game.
Players from all four home nations, including England’s Mason Mount, Ben Chilwell and Declan Rice, joined BT’s ‘The Grassroots Football Show’ on Saturday to talk about their experiences of climbing the rungs of the football ladder and why they value grassroots football so highly.
The show was hosted at Horsforth St Margaret’s FC – one of BT’s ‘Connected Clubs’ in Leeds – and, speaking to members of Horsham FC in West Sussex, Rice reflected on his personal journey from playing in the park as a youngster, to academy football, and finally to the England senior team.
“Building up to the point of getting an England cap, you look at the journey and where it all started… I think that, without grassroots football, I wouldn’t have had a platform to get to this level,” he said.
“It shows how important grassroots football is. Getting [my] first England cap shows that anything is possible.”
And with UEFA EURO 2020 fast approaching, Chilwell added some insight into the team’s build-up to the tournament.
“Preparation is going really well,” said the Chelsea man.
“We all get on really well away from football, which I think is important going into a big tournament in the summer where we’re going to be stuck together for [several] weeks. If we can go and have a successful tournament, that can bring some happiness to what’s been a very difficult year for a lot of people.”
As part of BT’s transformational ‘4-3-3’ partnership strategy, BT have made the commitment to provide 200 grassroots clubs across the UK with a package of free products and services including the very best broadband and Wi-Fi connectivity – to support their role as hubs for the local community.
Despite lockdown, BT has been able to connect 70 grassroots clubs with the aim to reach 100 by the end of the summer.
And Pete Jeavons, marketing communications director of BT, explained: “The growth and development of grassroots football is a fundamental part of our ‘4-3-3’ partnership strategy.
“Together with the home nation football associations, our goal is to create the most digitally-skilled grassroots community in the world.”
BT is lead partner of the England football teams. Watch ‘The Grassroots Football Show’ in full via the BT Sport YouTube channel.