BT has today unveiled its 4-3-3 football partnership strategy, designed to use technology, innovation and digital skills in footballing communities across the UK to help change the lives of millions of players, coaches and fans.
In partnership with each of the four Home Nation Football Associations, BT will help break down barriers to playing or supporting the beautiful game by creating a para and disability innovation hub; The FA Playmaker, an official FA entry-level online course; and boosting support for men’s, women’s, para and disability football from grassroots to elite levels.
BT’s commitment will launch a number of initiatives and projects over the five-year agreement with each of The FA, Scottish FA, Irish FA and FA of Wales in a bid to deliver against specific goals and commitments for their communities.
BT & DISABILITY FOOTBALL
Inspiring the next generation of disability players, BT will combine the power of its technology, innovation and partnerships, aiming to increase national support for Home Nations teams.
A first of its kind research programme to enable those who currently can’t play, to play.
· Millions of people are fortunate enough to grow up playing football and dream of playing for their country, but for some disability groups there isn’t a form of the game they can play.
· Working with leading tech innovation hub Plexal, within the Here East supercampus, as well as Disability Rights UK and other experts from the accessibility and sport communities, BT will design and develop a new format of disability football for those who can’t play with their bodies, but could potentially play with their minds.
· Through this ambitious research project, BT’s aim is to introduce new technology concepts into the game, helping those currently excluded from competitive sport to play, with the ultimate ambition of enabling the very best to potentially play one day for their country.
Content & programming
Raising the profile of Para and disability football
· BT will invest in the creation of inspiring para documentaries and films for BT Sport. The first documentary has been commissioned and will focus on blind football.
· This year BT Sport will broadcast the Disability Cup, providing disability football with a live TV platform for the first time.
CONNECTING GRASSROOTS FOOTBALL CLUBS
BT will break down barriers to improve digital, education and footballing skills in communities across the UK, creating a network of hundreds of grassroots football clubs across the Home Nations.
The FA Playmaker Partnership:
· BT will be the official partner of The FA’s revolutionary new digital entry-level football course – The FA Playmaker – which launches this spring.
· The FA Playmaker will be free to sign up and available to anyone over 14 interested in taking a more active volunteer role in grassroots football, with a focus on encouraging a more diverse representation of people into football coaching.
· The aim will be to create 100,000 FA Playmakers by 2024 and equip them with the skills, knowledge and confidence to support licensed coaches make safe, fun and inclusive football happen in our grassroots game.
· The course is made up of five online modules and will take approximately four and a half hours to complete, with learners having the options afterwards to become FA licensed by taking their FA Safeguarding Children Workshop (FA SCW), FA Introduction to First Aid in Football (FA IFAiF), and their DBS.
· The FA Playmaker licence will qualify participants for leading roles in grassroots football and within FA participation initiatives – such as Wildcats, Just Play and FA affiliated football.
· BT will offer an incentive scheme to encourage more than 7,000 FA Playmakers from under-represented communities to achieve their full licence by removing the cost of the additional safeguarding and first aid courses required for supervising under 18s.
Connecting grassroots clubs and communities for increased digital skills training:
· More than 200 grassroots football clubs across the Home Nations will be given a package of BT services and become part of the rollout of the new digital skills programme BT Skills for Tomorrow, which is aimed at turning football clubhouses into hubs for their community and helping to create the best-connected grassroots football community in the world.
· The new BT Skills for Tomorrow programme will be rolled out across the UK, starting in March at the National Stadium in Belfast, where 50 18-24 year-olds will celebrate completing a Work Ready programme designed to help them develop employability and digital skills.
· Community football clubs will become hubs to give those at the clubs, in the local community and in small businesses the digital skills and confidence they need.
· These initiatives will support BT’s wider ambition by 2025 to empower ten million people by giving them the skills they need for the digital world.
BOOSTING THE WOMEN’S GAME
BT will use its digital innovation and broadcasting expertise to inspire a new generation of girls and women to participate in football, on and off the pitch.
Football Mum to Football Manager
· BT will bring 50,000 new women directly into the grassroots eco-system via the FA Playmaker online course as well as offering bursaries and mentoring schemes for women wanting to progress in football coaching.
· Through BT Sport’s industry-leading expertise, BT will provide an opportunity for girls and women to follow their ambitions for a career in sports broadcasting.
· BT Sport will increase its work with female students to offer broadcast training and presenting opportunities to create programming around women’s football.
· BT will create more TV and online content celebrating and showcasing women in football to help inspire and educate on the opportunities available on or off the pitch.
Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s Consumer division, said: “Football, like BT, is part of the fabric of our nations and we believe that combining football with the power of our technology, innovation and people will benefit society and the lives of millions of people across the UK over the next five years. We’re using these partnerships to break down barriers and create a meaningful legacy across grassroots, para and women’s football in the UK.
“This is the start of a very exciting journey that goes far beyond traditional sponsorships and we’re looking forward to successful partnerships, on and off the pitch, with all the Home Nations over the coming years.”
Mark Bullingham, CEO of The FA, commented: “BT is using the partnership to have a transformative impact on people throughout the country. They have identified three important areas for growth and we are looking forward to BT bringing their digital expertise and innovative thinking to achieve these goals."
Ian Maxwell, CEO of The Scottish FA, added: “BT have some ambitious plans to combine football and technology to engage communities across the nation. Their goals for grassroots, girls’ and women’s and para-football dovetail perfectly with our own and we are excited at the opportunities our partnership with them holds for Scottish football.”
Jonathan Ford, CEO FA of Wales, added: “Football has the power to transform communities and it’s fantastic that this partnership will enable grassroots, women’s and para football clubs across Wales to benefit from the expertise and services that BT have to offer.”
Irish FA chief executive Patrick Nelson said: “It is great that BT, as title sponsor of our men’s teams and our development and disability teams, is using its wealth of knowledge and expertise to help the football community in this way. BT’s 4-3-3 strategy, with its focus on introducing new technology, innovation and enhancing digital skills, is a positive and very welcome initiative. This strategy will undoubtedly be of immense benefit as we strive to promote, foster and develop football for all in Northern Ireland.”
Kamran Mallick, CEO, Disability Rights UK, said: “Sport is a way of bringing people together, an enabler for increased wellbeing, motivation and enjoyment. For many disabled people the barriers we experience limit or exclude us from taking part in sport. We are excited to be partnering with BT to see how technology can remove these barriers and help us to find ways to participate in sport with our peers and communities, and to be active in a way that works for us.”