As a footballer, you make positive changes to people’s lives every week through your work on the pitch. You inspire people, bring communities together, and create special memories for your fans. But you also have the power to help and inspire people off the field.
Many footballers choose to get involved in charity work. This could be by becoming a patron of a charity, volunteering your time, or even setting up your own foundation.
If you are considering getting more involved with charity work off the pitch, there are many different avenues you could explore. In this article, read about some of the possibilities available to you, and learn about examples of charities that footballers such as Harry Kane, Ella Toone, and Ian Wright have worked with or founded in the past.
Support your roots
A popular approach for many footballers is to set up or support a charity that raises money for you or your family’s hometown or country. This is an excellent way for you to give back to the community which raised you and helped to make you the successful athlete you are today.
Many footballers have done this in the past. For example, former Tottenham and Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe set up The Jermain Defoe Foundation to support and care for young people in his family’s home country of St Lucia.
You could volunteer to support the provision of meals for vulnerable children, raise money for better education facilities, or support communities from your hometown or country who are struggling with a particular issue. You could even help your community by providing better access to sports for both children and adults.
Improve access to football
Football should be for all, but not everyone has equal opportunity to access the game from a young age. Whether it be because of gender, social background, or geographical location, many children do not have access to the opportunities to build a career in the game, or even to simply play for fun.
There are plenty of ways you can improve access to the game, be it through fundraising, providing facilities, or using your status as a pro to influence funding decisions.
A great initiative that you could support is the ESFA’s Schools’ Football Week (SFW). SFW celebrates the importance of both competitive and non-competitive football in schools. It provides resources and motivation for teachers and coaches to discuss the benefits of football in schools both on the pitch and in the classroom.
Last year, SFW helped nearly a quarter of a million children get involved in football-related activities. In 2024, SFW will run from 5 to 11 February, so why not get in touch and see how you can help?
England and Manchester United player Ella Toone recently helped to improve access to football by opening a new pitch in her hometown of Wigan. With the new pitch, Toone wanted to improve access to football for people in the local area – particularly women and girls.
Tackle the stigma around mental health
Mental health is a topic that has thankfully become far less taboo in recent years. We are finally beginning to see open discussions around the topic, and mental wellbeing is starting to be taken as seriously as physical health.
However, there is still a long way to go, and as a professional footballer, you can reach parts of society that could benefit the most from improved mental health awareness and support.
You have the power to break down preconceptions around mental health for many youngsters who may just be beginning their lifelong mental health journey. By reaching people at an early age, you can give them the tools to understand and handle their mental health throughout their lives.
Though times are changing, according to Statista around 63% of football fans are men. Men are also a group who are likely to suffer from poor mental health, but not seek support. As reported by Priory, 77% of men have suffered from mental health symptoms like anxiety, stress, or depression, but 40% of men have never spoken to anyone about their mental health.
As a role model for these men, you are uniquely positioned to reach them and help change how they deal with their mental health struggles.
Perhaps the most notable example of a footballer whose charity work is focused on mental health is England captain Harry Kane. The Harry Kane Foundation was set up in 2023 to tackle mental health stigma through fundraising and events, strategic partnerships, private donations and Harry Kane’s personal contributions.
Support a personal cause
Everyone has challenges in life. You may have faced discrimination, suffered trauma, battled hardship as a child, or have a family member with a particular health condition. Whatever cause is important to you, you can use your platform to help.
After losing an aunt, grandad, and great-grandmother to cancer, England international and Spurs forward Beth England has become a vocal supporter of Stand Up to Cancer.
Beth England’s charity work demonstrates how you can make a big difference by supporting existing charities – you do not have to set up your own foundation. Many players have chosen to support existing charities: Marcus Rashford has raised money for FareShare, Ian Wright is a patron of the Jordan Sinnott charity, and Lee Clark supports Heel & Toe to name just a few.
Get in touch
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