South Manchester group Football for Foodbanks is fighting food poverty with 6-a-side football fixtures
- A group called Football for Foodbanks organises matches and donates proceeds to local foodbanks
- Organiser says all are welcome to join
- The group was originally set up in Sheffield but is now beginning to expand across Manchester
A group called Football for Foodbanks is hosting 6-a side-football matches and supporting Manchester foodbanks.
The group, which caters to both men and women, aims to make the activity accessible for all, regardless of ability.
The project began in Sheffield and has now set up shop in Didsbury in south Manchester.
Participants pay slightly over the standard price to rent a pitch, and at the end of the month what is left over goes towards a shop which is then donated to a local foodbank.
Last month in Sheffield the group bought 90 bags of shopping, weighing a total of half-a-tonne.
The group has begun partnering with local sports clubs in the area.
So far they have established a relationship with Didsbury FC, Altrincham Women FC, and Manchester Laces.
These relationships now mean the group can access pitches for a discounted rate, meaning more can be donated to charities.
The group’s organiser, Tom Moore, says he set up the Manchester branch after moving from Sheffield.
“It started off with a group of us wanting to get fit again after the first lockdown,” he said
“We could finally meet people again and go for a pint afterwards.
“Some of us have played a bit of football before but we’re all about inclusivity.
“That’s not to say that there isn’t some competition, though.”
Tom makes sure to select the fixtures according to ability.
He insists there are three levels to the group: getting people active in an inclusive way; partnering with local groups such as charities, sports clubs and universities; and civic education and training.
Like the group in Sheffield, the Manchester branch wants to expand around the city.
Leigh Gell, Manchester FA’s women’s football recreational officer, whose role is to increase the number of women involved in the sport, says the group is “amazing”.
“Not only have some of these women not played football before, but they also don’t go out and get active regularly,” she said.
“They’ve been inspired to get active by the prospect of helping the local community.
“For me, football is the best thing for my mental health.
“I’d say most of the friends I’ve made since moving to manchester three months ago has been through football.
While the group has done a lot to help local foodbanks, Leigh points out that the government should take a leading role.
Leigh said: “The government of course need to more to resolve food poverty.
“They’re the ones with the most power and who can make the biggest difference.
“But also it’s what in your circle of control.
“Football is so powerful in this country. If we can use it to have a positive impact socially then that’s absolutely amazing.”
According to the UK Parliament website, there are currently over 2,000 foodbanks operating in the UK.
It is estimated that over 2.5 million people used a foodbank last year.
The group meets at Burnage Rugby Football Club on Tuesdays and at Barlow RC High School in Didsbury on Thursdays.
The session lasts for one hour and it costs £4 to play.
Any prospective participants should sign up here for the men’s division or here for the women and gender minorities division.