Former England, Nottingham Forest and West Ham United defender Stuart Pearce backs campaign offering financial support to non-league football clubs
England legend Stuart Pearce is backing a campaign that could give Bishop's Stortford and other non-league clubs financial support to bounce back from the coronavirus crisis.
The Blues and their fellow Pitching In Isthmian League sides can apply for grants of up to £5,000 to help establish community-focused projects with the aim of developing young talent, promoting non-league football to a wider audience and attracting volunteers.
The cash is being offered by the Trident Community Foundation (TCF), which has been founded by a combination of Entain's grassroots sport investment programme Pitching In and the three Trident Leagues – the Isthmian, Northern Premier and Southern leagues.
Entain, owner of Ladbrokes and Coral, has donated £150,000 to establish the TCF fund for distribution over the remainder of the 2020-21 season and the project has firm support from former Nottingham Forest and West Ham left-back Pearce, who began his career with Wealdstone.
"Initiatives like this are close to my heart as I am proud of my non-League background," said Pearce, who won 78 England caps and is a Pitching In ambassador.
"Non-League clubs are the hubs of their communities and people have connections to these clubs going back generations. Bringing people together, especially in these fractured times, is vitally important and initiatives such as this will help do that.
"The timing is absolutely spot on. The true mark of help is when people really need it – and the football community at this level really needs it.
Following a simple application process, potential projects will be reviewed by the TCF board which will be chaired by David Emery, the editor-in-chief of The Non-League Paper, and consists of three Trident League chairmen and two Entain representatives.
Isthmian League chairman Nick Robinson is also part of the TCF board and hailed "a great, innovative way of involving our clubs in community projects".
"In the past, clubs may have come to us with a community idea and we'd have had to turn it down," added Robinson.
"Now we can help as there is funding available and a simple application process which we will guide the clubs through."
* Entain – owner of Ladbrokes – has launched multi-million pound investment programme Pitching In, which is designed to support and promote grassroots sports. The programme includes a flagship partnership with the Isthmian, Northern Premier and Southern Leagues, collectively known as The Trident League, as well as a partnership with the UK sports charity SportsAid. For more details see entaingroup.com/sustainability/pitching-in.