Craig Tracey MP saw the power of volunteers first-hand as he mucked in to help out at Bedworth United FC last Saturday.
Mr Tracey, MP for North Warwickshire since 2015, tried his hand at manning the turnstile and pulling pints as the Greenbacks beat Gresley Rovers 3-0 in front of 233 spectators.
Volunteers are the heartbeat of the non-league game, with clubs simply unable to function without the help of those willing to give up their time for free, and club secretary Andy Stickley believes it was great for Mr Tracey to see the important work done at the club up close.
“It was a different type of environment for him,” said Stickley, who first got involved at The Oval nine years ago. “He had a go at the turnstiles then did some pint pulling at half time.
“Football clubs at this level couldn’t run without volunteers. We can’t afford to pay the number of staff it would need to put on a match.
“The ultimate thing is that people get the sense of giving something back and feeling part of something.
“You give up your time freely so other people can enjoy themselves.”
Bedworth currently sit 12th in the Pitching In Northern Premier League Division One Midlands, with the leagues sponsors encouraging people to get down to volunteer at their local club.
— Hitchin Town FC (@HitchinTownFC) October 16, 2022
Having recently launched its Volunteer Hub, Pitching In are making it easier for people to get involved at grassroots level and be part of a key pillar in many communities such as Bedworth.
The Greenbacks are now on the up both on and off the pitch, with a slow start to the season being turned on its head by recent good form, while refurbishment off the pitch as made it a social hub.
“Over the past few years we’ve looked to grow the club,” added Stickley.
“Nine years ago when I joined all the teams were independent, now all 30-plus teams are operating from the same site, in the same direction.
“There is plenty of opportunities from under sevens to first-team, both men and women. Even below we’ve got tots stuff so anyone from three years old can come and play.
“During Covid we did a lot of redevelopment within the clubhouse, making the bar area much more appealing, it’s now quite vibrant and we’re picking up a lot of local events.
“Traditionally we are slow starters but we have picked up in the last five or six games and hopefully can push on between now and Christmas and push for those play-off spots.”
Ladbrokes, with the support of its owner Entain, has launched a multi-million-pound investment programme, Pitching In, designed to support and promote grassroots sports. For more details see: https://entaingroup.com/sustainability/pitching-in/