As outdoor grassroots football returns in England, two former England stars helped to relaunch the McDonald’s Fun Football programme on Monday morning.
Both Jamie Redknapp and Alex Scott met youngsters at Bushy Park Sports Club in Teddington, as they enjoyed the first Fun Football session of the year following the return of outdoor sports
And the pair helped coach children during the free football session, which is delivered in partnership with the FA and gives children who have missed out on sport and vital peer-to-peer interaction since the UK went into lockdown in January, a chance to safely enjoy football again.
Whether they are first-timers or keen to get back to developing their skills, every child can enjoy the sessions and the aim is for the programme to offer one million hours of free football for children in 2021.
“It’s great to come down and see first-hand kids getting back into football in a fun and safe environment after lockdown at this session," said ex Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Redknapp, also a McDonald's Fun Football ambassador.
"As a parent, I know how much kids have missed opportunities like this and speaking to the parents here today has shown how vital sessions are like this for families.”
Scott, a former Lionesses and Arsenal legend, added: “You can see from the excitement and joy on the kids’ faces today just how much this means to them to be back playing.
"It’s really important that families have access to programmes and sessions like this, as getting kids active after a long year of restrictions is key to keeping them mentally and physically healthy.”
This year will see McDonald's double the number of sessions it puts on this summer to enable more kids to get active again.
The programme also aims to provide five millions hours of Fun Football to children across the UK by 2022.
This means that 10,000 children will get the chance to play football at over 400 sessions across the country in April - all under the guidance of top FA accredited coaches. McDonald’s is also committed to its target of giving over 500,000 children the opportunity to play football for the first time.
"As a dad of two boys that love football, I know how much children have missed running around with their friends during lockdown and I’m delighted our programme restarts this weekend as the grassroots season recommences," revealed Paul Pomroy, chief executive officer for McDonald’s UK and Ireland.
“It's a proud moment for McDonald’s to be able to offer so many children access to free fun football in April.
"We're looking forward to offering even more sessions during this exciting summer of football, in total we will provide one million hours of free football for children in 2021.”
At the weekend, the FA announced its ‘Survive. Thrive. Revive.’ strategy, where it committed to fostering a game that’s representative of diverse footballing communities, played in a safe an inclusive environment, which McDonald’s helps provide through its Fun Football programme.
McDonald’s has worked with the FA and the other Home Nations Football Associations for the last 19 years, making it the longest standing provider of grassroots football in the UK.