31 Mar 2022

By: Sport Industry Group

England Manager, Gareth Southgate, Manchester City and Lionesses forward Georgia Stanway, former Paralympics GB captain Jack Rutter and Arsenal and England goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale are calling on parents to give children their ‘grassroots debut’ this spring at McDonald’s Fun Football sessions taking place across the country.

With registration for McDonald’s free Fun Football now open, the football stars attended Fun Football to encourage parents across the country to kickstart their child's grassroots journey.

Southgate said, Grassroots football is where every player falls in love with the game, which is why it is important that we offer as many kids as possible the opportunity to play. I remember from an early age all I wanted to do was play football. I was lucky enough to go on and fulfil that ambition.

“We put a lot of emphasis on the England team’s role in inspiring the next generation and leaving the shirt in a better place. You can see first-hand how the current team is benefiting from a competitive player pathway and youth system. It’s great to see so many players make their debuts at Fun Football sessions and fall in love with the game. You never know, we might have someone here making their first step towards achieving their international debut.”

Ramsdale recalled his grassroots and international debuts, “My international debut wouldn’t have happened without the support of my family and the hours they spent watching me play grassroots football. I remember the first time I picked up a ball as a kid, just running around playing for hours on end with my mates who I am still good friends with today and that’s what it’s about.

“If I was to go back and give myself advice before my first ever game, I would say take it all in, don’t worry about everyone else, and just enjoy it. It’s just football and that’s the whole reason we all started it. Grassroots football is why I still play every day with a smile on my face.”

In partnership with the FA, McDonald’s is providing hundreds of free sessions, all delivered by a team of fully qualified coaches in hundreds of locations across England during 2022. The McDonalds Fun Football initiative has been recently nominated in the Active & Wellbeing category at the Sport Industry Awards 2022.