Former Lioness captain Karen Carney MBE today championed the role of Wales’ non-league football clubs within their communities and met inspirational coach Chloe McBratney.
Celebrating The National Lottery Football Weekends, Carney was at Barry Town United FC where she met Chloe who is registered blind, lives with multiple health conditions and coaches the club’s thriving Pan Disability side.
The National Lottery Football Weekends campaign across the four home nations will make over 100,000 tickets available on a ‘Buy One Get One Free’ basis for National Lottery players for selected matches across three weekends in March and April.
In Wales, it will mean people can watch games in the JD Cymru Premier and JD Cymru North and South leagues for free. It aims to get people out to watch and really get behind their local team, perhaps for the first time, and experience the vital role these clubs play as part of their local community. The offer will be available for Barry Town United’s clash against Cefn Druids on Saturday April 2nd.
At the height of the pandemic and when football and sport shut down clubs struggled for survival as they lost turnstile income and other matchday revenue. In response, The National Lottery provided £12.5 million of emergency funding to community football clubs at this level across the UK, including Barry Town United to help them continue to operate and survive.
Karen Carney – who, with 144 England caps, is England’s most capped player, said:
“Clubs like Barry Town United FC are absolutely crucial to our communities right up and down the UK. From walking football to a pan-disability side for children and young adults, it’s clear that the club is at the very heart of the community. The National Lottery Football Weekends are designed to say a big thank you to National Lottery players. The funding that went to clubs during the pandemic was a lifeline and it’s fantastic that we can now get behind our local side for free and in our droves.”
Chloe McBratney said:
“It was so important that we got funding from The National Lottery during Covid-19 as we are so much more than just a football club. By supporting the teams at the weekend, you help children and young adults play the game they love.
“Once the pandemic started to ease, coming and playing some football was often the one escape; where everyone could forget everything that was going on for an hour or two. During lockdown, some players had physical conditions that had got worse but they are regaining fitness again now that they are able to come back and play. The club is like a family – we all look out for each and support each other in everything that we do.”
Chloe was thrilled to meet Karen Carney today:
“I remember watching women’s football in that era and Arsenal was the team to beat. They were unstoppable. Karen was my role model growing up so to meet her today was amazing and an experience I will never forget.”
Noel Mooney, FAW Chief Executive, said:
“National Lottery players have a vital role in supporting our national game, especially at domestic and grassroots level. Local football is the very heartbeat of our national game and our communities and this connection between clubs and their local communities needs to be celebrated. So many of our players at the top end of the game would not be where they are today without them. I urge everyone to get out and support their local side and there is no better time to do it than now."
Barry Town United’s Manager Gavin Chesterfield says:
“The National Lottery Funding was a lifeline for many clubs like ours across Wales during the most difficult days of the pandemic when we had to close our doors to fans. That funding was down to the support of The National Lottery players so it’s great that we can say thank you with The National Football Weekends and we hope to see lots of new fans down at Jenner Park in a few weeks.”
The National Lottery Football Weekends is to thank National Lottery players for stepping up when they were needed the most. The special ‘Buy One Get One Free’ ticket offer will be available to National Lottery players for a game at one of the 231 participating clubs in Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.* The ticket offer will apply to one home match for each club, taking place between 19th March and 16th April.
The campaign will be delivered in partnership with the FAW (Football Association of Wales), National League, The FA (Football Association), The SFA (Scottish Football Association) IFA (Irish Football Association) and is also backed by well-known ex-footballer Ally McCoist.
To find out more about The National Lottery Football Weekends and to find your nearest match visit www.thenationallotteryfootballweekends.co.uk.
Each club will be responsible for distributing tickets for its home match and details on how to claim will be available from each club. Terms and conditions apply.
The money for this campaign, as well as the initiatives with the various FAs and leagues across the UK during Covid came from a National Lottery promotional fund, it was not funded by money allocated for National Lottery Good Causes or by Camelot.
The National Lottery is also working alongside Non-League Day, a campaign set up in 2010 to encourage supporters of clubs playing at the highest levels of the game to support their smaller local or non-league club and sample the unique matchday experience of football at local level.
The National Lottery has always played a vital role in supporting elite, community and grassroot sport in the UK. Including football, The National Lottery has invested more than £5.7 billion into grassroots sport since it was established in 1994. In the last year nearly £395 million was given to grassroots and elite sport good causes, funding everything from facilities to playing fields and creating opportunities for everyone to get active and improve their lives through sport.
There are other opportunities for National Lottery players in March. The National Lottery Open Week takes place between 19th - 27th March to say thank you for the more than £30 million raised every week by National Lottery players. Open Week unlocks free entry and exclusive discounts for National Lottery players at a range of participating venues including galleries, museums, gardens, historic castles and sports stadiums. Full Ts&Cs apply and are available at www.nationallotteryopenweek.com