Former Norwich City striker Grant Holt has urged fans to support their local grassroots sides and labelled the recent European Super League saga as “horrendous”, speaking in an exclusive interview with Football League World.
Few people know the importance of grassroots football better than Holt, who cut his team in non-league before progressing into the professional game and is still involved now via his daughter.
Alongside the likes of Jamie Vardy and Glenn Murray, his journey from non-league to the Premier League is well documented – with the former marksman playing in every division as well as making more than 300 appearances and scoring more than 100 goals in the EFL.
Now the 40-year-old, who currently has a backroom role at Norwich, is looking to give something back to the grassroots game that has helped launch his and so many other careers by becoming an ambassador of the Your Club Your Kit initiative.
The competition offers grassroots community clubs and school teams across the UK the chance to win a new strip, with Estate Agents Your Move providing a club or school with a new strip for each of their participating branches – which number more than 100.
“I think it’s absolutely fantastic,” explained Holt in an exclusive interview with Football League World. “The fact they’re giving away kits to everywhere where there is a Your Move is phenomenal really, I think a lot of teams will be putting their names in the hat.
“It’s been a real struggle. It’s a struggle every year trying to get financing but even more so this year. There are a lot of teams that need it. Everyone should put their name in to try and win it. If they don’t, I hope there are people out there from businesses and they might think about sponsoring them in this climate.”
As part of his role as an ambassador, Holt made a surprise appearance at Norwich & District Sunday League Division 4 side Salhouse Rovers’ training session last night to ge involved with the players, offer a few coaching tips and words of advice, and discuss the campaign with the group.
Holt, who spent time at non-league clubs such as Workington and Barrow in the early part of his career, is hopeful that the initiative can raise awareness for the grassroots game.
“Hopefully, it’ll raise awareness of how important grassroots football,” said the Your Move ambassador. “We hear a lot about grassroots but I think a lot of people look at it as somewhere that young kids come from and I think some of them don’t really realise how many people it takes to run a grassroots club.
“The staff, getting the players there, having someone to spray the balls at the moment, there are a lot more things going on. I think we need to take a step back and realise this is the foundation and where it all starts.
“We’re probably all guilty of talking about the journey of Jamie Vardy, myself, Glenn Murray, and people like that who started in non-league and ended up higher up but I don’t think we truly realise how that all happened.”
It’s a notion that Holt believes is even more important in the context of the recent European Super League saga, which saw England’s ‘Big Six’ clubs try to form a breakaway competition alongside some of Europe’s biggest sides – with special advantages put in place for the founding side that put the integrity of the English pyramid under threat.
He said: “I think the biggest thing about the ‘Big Six’ that has happened this week is, most of the things you’ve heard from people is: one – it’s horrendous and shouldn’t happen, two – it’s disrespectful to the fans, and three – why at this moment in time are you announcing it?
“Teams are struggling, fans are struggling, people are struggling and they’re announcing they’re going to leave to get another £300 million on top of what they’re already getting. I think that’s the biggest thing at the moment.”
Holt believes that on the back of recent events it is now more important than ever for fans of all clubs to get out and support the local grassroots sides.
He explained: “I think people need to really sit back from whatever club it is and think about, can I go and watch my local team wherever that is?
“That could be a Manchester side or around Liverpool, where Marine just had a great run in the FA Cup. Because they then feed the younger teams down and that’s how we get the build-up that allows a player to go on to do great things.
“The one message that I hope does get out of it is please go and support your local team. Whoever you support, Manchester United, Liverpool, Derby, Norwich, whoever you support. If they aren’t playing at home, just go and watch one of your local teams and see if you enjoy it.
“I love going to a ground because you’re sat with the players two yards away from you. You can go and have a pint and a pie and watch the game. What is better than that?”
Grant Holt is supporting the nationwide “Your Club Your Kit” competition on behalf of Your Move, Official Communities Supporter of the EFL. To help your local grassroots team and enter the kit competition visit: www.your-move.co.uk/kit