BT has connected four grassroots football clubs in Wales with broadband (Wi-Fi) and provided digital skills training, as clubs and their communities look to recover from the COVID-19 crisis.
The work is part of BT’s role as lead partner of Welsh football. Working with the football associations, BT identified the key areas of the game that needed the most support and developed the transformational 4-3-3 football strategy.
The partnership includes a commitment to provide grassroots clubs across the country with a package of free products and services including broadband and Wi-Fi connectivity. The aim is to support grassroots clubs in their role as hubs for the local community.
The connectivity will help the football clubs set up things like free guest Wi-Fi for supporters, taking wireless card payments and video streaming of matches and training sessions.
Despite the coronavirus restrictions, BT has been able to connect four grassroots clubs in Wales, with plans to connect more by the end of the summer.
BT will also work with the connected clubs to help make them hubs to offer digital and employability skills support in the local community, through BT’s Skills for Tomorrow programme.
One of the connected clubs is Barry Town United FC who are preparing to make use of the clubhouse Wi-Fi for community activities, as restrictions ease.
Barry Town United Club Secretary David Cole said: “For obvious reasons, since becoming a BT Connected Club last summer we’ve not been able to use the free connectivity in our clubhouse as we’d have liked, but we’re looking forward to making the most of it when we can.
“We’re at the heart of our community and in today’s world, we need to stay connected to remain that way. We’re glad to be partnering through the BT Connected Clubs initiative to enhance our offering to our community.
“In addition, the reduction in fixed costs through this initiative is more than welcome at this moment in time.”
Ian Davis, Football Association of Wales Head of Commercial & Marketing, said: “It’s great that our partnership with BT is helping us combine football and technology and making sure that our grassroots clubs remain hubs for their community. The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact on many of our clubs and communities, so this kind of support is hugely welcome as we look to get our clubs back on their feet.
“Football has a foot in almost every community across the nation, so clubs will have a big role to play in bringing people back together and making a difference.”
Pete Jeavons, Marketing Communications Director at BT, said: “Supporting grassroots football is an integral part of our 4-3-3 football strategy. We know how important grassroots football clubs are across the country, so by linking them to the latest technology, connectivity and digital skills, we can help build their role as community hubs.
“People up and down the country are desperate to return to their local clubs, so we hope this will give these first connected clubs and their communities a small lift.”
BT created a one-off special TV show to celebrate the importance of grassroots football, as clubs begin to re-open. The hour-long ‘Grassroots Football Show’ has been aired on BT Sport and is also available to watch via BT Sport’s YouTube channel.
In partnership with the four home nation football associations, the programme was presented by BT Sport duo Jules Breach & Robbie Savage. It featured elite players from each of the home nations’ senior men’s teams including Wales’ 100-cap hero Chris Gunter. It included also advice from Wales’s Head of Performance Tony Strudwick on how grassroots players can successfully return to playing the gaming, following the break.