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We are the champions

A total of 250 pubs have joined the Grassroots Sports Champion programme, launched in March by PubAid and Sky to recognise and reward pubs’ support for local sport.

The Grassroots Sports Champion programme is open to any pub involved in local sport, whether they host a pool or darts side, sponsor a football team or put on a post-match spread for the cricket side. It’s free to join and pubs receive a marketing pack of staff T-shirts and window stickers to help them shout about their support for the sports that are so important to local communities. Pubs can sign up on the dedicated website:

Information from joiners shows the wide range of sports supported by pubs. While football, pool and darts are the most popular, the long list also includes fishing and cycling clubs, bootcamps, majorettes, rambling groups, archery and Aunt Sally – a traditional pub and fairground game, a bit like a coconut shy. Women’s rugby and football and mixed darts and pool also feature, as well as a number of veterans teams, demonstrating the inclusive approach favoured by many pubs.

According to a survey by PubAid1, pubs contribute £40m every year to grassroots sport, either through direct sponsorship or donations, or in-kind support. With a lack of funding the biggest challenge for many local teams, pubs are providing a lifeline that helps clubs to stay afloat and enables thousands of people to play the sport they love.

Des O’Flanagan, PubAid co-founder said: “We’re delighted with this enthusiastic response to Grassroots Sports Champions. These pubs are providing invaluable help to local sports teams, who are frequently only able to operate thanks to their sponsorship or in-kind support, and they thoroughly deserve this recognition.”

Damian Saunders, Managing Director, Sky Business TV said: “It’s wonderful to see so many pubs become Grassroots Sports Champions. The scale of involvement is impressive, with many pubs supporting teams across several sports and age groups in their locality.

“We are keen for as many pubs as possible to become Grassroots Sports Champions. It doesn’t matter whether your pub sponsors half a dozen local teams or provides free refreshments for one darts side, the support provided by pubs for all grassroots sports deserves recognition in this programme.”

One Grassroots Sports Champion is The Cresswell Arms in Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, Northumberland (main pictures). Last year, licensee David Haggerty started sponsoring a new Sunday football team, which was set up by Nick Storey, a pub regular who works for Newcastle United Foundation.

He says: “Nick started the team as a way of combating social isolation and the mental health issues around it in our community, particularly among young men. It’s been amazing to see how these players, most of them in their 20s, have developed: playing football once a week and socialising in the pub has connected them to the community, giving them confidence, social skills and a new group of friends. And they’ve had a really good first season on the pitch too, losing in the league final by just one goal.”

We wish the initiative every success and look forward to seeing the champions of the future, playing the sport they really enjoy.

For more information visit PubAid’s website: PubAid