POOLE Town are helping young people stay in the game by providing free football sessions, writes Ben Hart.

The Dolphins started the initiative in April 2021 but have seen pitch fees skyrocket during the cost-of-living crisis.

But thanks to a £4,000 grant from the Trident Community Foundation, the club have been able to continue running their increasingly popular sessions while also providing for those families feeling the pinch of the current economic climate.

Dolphins director Richard Gale said: “Running sessions through volunteers is a cost-effective way for kids to be able to take part in sport.

“That cost effectiveness is really under pressure at the moment because of the price inflation.

“These costs have got to be passed onto the parents and some people just can’t afford to do it. We are trying to fight back as grassroots football to keep the costs down so children have the opportunity to play sport.

“This funding is also going to be targeted at expanding girls’ football, as we have found that boys completely dominate these sessions.”

Interest has soared in recent months, with many young girls inspired on the back of the Lionesses success in the European Championships last summer.

Gale hopes the provision of a new coach and some new equipment can help the club uncover new ground.

“The sessions we do are hugely popular,” said Gale. “Our Monday night session is so over-subscribed, it is beyond belief.

“But why should it just be a boy’s reserve? We all saw the success of the Lionesses and girls love to play football. The more girls we can get in the better.

“Why shouldn’t they be able to play and enjoy the sport like the boys do?”

The Pitching In Southern League Premier Division South club are one of more than 40 clubs to have benefited from a grant from Trident Community Foundation, part of Pitching In’s multi-million-pound investment into grassroots sport, which has so far invested over £100,000 to help clubs across Step 3 and 4 launch or expand community projects.

“It’s extremely important we have access to this funding,” he said.

“We are branching out and helping equip schools with teams to play each other, as well as kitting out individuals who haven’t got the money to afford the kit.

“We are doing an awful lot in the community and funding like this enables us to plan and be able to carry on and deliver more things.

“We are constantly evolving so it’s absolutely vital and very much appreciated.”

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/