BT has unveiled a new football partnership strategy as part of its sponsorship of each of the four home nation Football Associations. The 4-3-3 strategy seeks to grow three key areas: women’s, disability and grassroots football.
It is named for the four FAs sponsored by BT, the three areas it is seeking to improve, and the three goals the telecommunications company have for the partnerships: developing new technology to enable more people to engage with football, creating closer football communities through new skills initiatives and inspiring a new generation of women and girls to participate in football.
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.”
BT says it will carry out a first-of-its-kind research programme to understand accessibility of the game and to enable those who don’t play right now to participate. Alongside tech innovation hub Plexal, and Disability Rights UK, BT says it 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.’ The organisation will also invest in giving disability football a greater media platform on BT Sport by broadcasting the Disability Cup as well as commissioning and creating para-football documentaries - the first of which will focus on blind football.
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.”
The telecommunications company says it will also boost the grassroots and women’s game, becoming the Official Partner of The FA’s new digital entry-level football course, The FA Playmaker, which launches in spring 2020. The course aims to create 100,000 FA Playmakers by 2024 who will support licensed coaches within the grassroots game.
BT, meanwhile, says it will bring 50,000 new women directly into the game via the Playmaker course, as well as offering bursaries and mentoring schemes for women wanting to progress in football coaching through a scheme called Football Mum to Football Manager.
It has also committed to supporting more women to get involved in the sport off the pitch, too, pledging to provide an opportunity for girls and women to follow careers in sport broadcasting and increasing its work with female students to offer broadcast training.
“BT have some ambitious plans to combine football and technology to engage communities across the nation,” said Ian Maxwell, CEO, Scottish FA. "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.”
Meanwhile, 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.”
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 to turn football clubhouses into hubs for their community, helping to create the best-connected grassroots football community in the world.