Grassroots sport has always depended on its survival from total dedication and unqualified support. Not only from the participants but the hundreds of thousands of volunteers who enable individuals, clubs and organisations to participate.
Of course, money is always tight and parents are frequently asked to contribute more of their time and money to enable their children’s sports to function.
Some years ago I dived in, immersing myself more fully in my daughter’s football team; training and qualifying as a coach. Over the last seven years, I have seen first-hand the benefits which sport has given her and her teammates during many cold days and wet seasons.
As Thomas Miller Creative, we sponsor the team kit. It’s a simple gesture, but something we are very proud to be able to do. Designing, printing and then handing out the kit at training was a joy, but seeing the whole team assembled at kick-off in their proudly emblazoned kit, filled me with immeasurable pride.
Unfortunately, the end of the season was cut short due to the nationwide lockdown, and the team missed out on a second cup final, something they had worked hard to achieve. When things were eased slightly in late summer, the team was able to resume training (though remaining 2m apart, is not easy for a team sport). But despite the abrupt end to their season, their dedication and enthusiasm never stopped. They obviously hugely enjoy playing the sport itself, but it was clear that being together, chatting and having a laugh was absolutely vital to them.
And a sense of belonging is exactly what sport offers. And a brand or team kit is a standard to get behind and show you belong.
It’ll be a tough season ahead for Winchester City Flyers U18s Jays (try chanting that from the side-lines); not only due to the talented opposition they will play, but the many challenges our young people face in relation to COVID-19 restrictions. But I know they will keep going and most importantly they will continue to laugh and work together as a team.