Saturday 22 September 2018, 14:21

The Best offering clean start at Clapham Common

  • FIFA funding delivering complete refurbishment of Clapham Common facilities

  • Separate changing rooms for women players for the first time

  • FIFA’s Deputy Secretary General Zvonimir Boban joined by FIFA Legends to unveil project

Football is for everyone. It is a simple mantra, but one that needs actions to back it up. Clapham Common represents one of the most iconic patches of footballing turf in the United Kingdom’s capital, as home to more than 30 London FA clubs and hundreds of football players. But it has not been ‘for everyone’ of late.

The Greater London Women’s Football League (GLWFL) has stopped their clubs from booking Clapham Common as their home ground, due to the lack of female changing facilities. A campaign by a local team, and funds from FIFA, now aims to change that.

South London Laces, who play in the GLWFL, have been instrumental in lobbying for renovation. With The Best FIFA Football Awards™ taking place in the United Kingdom capital – and with FIFA keen to leave a lasting legacy in the city following the donation of equipment to Hackney Marshes last year – work has started on a complete refurbishment of the changing facilities.

"We’ve been campaigning and lobbying for the facilities to be upgraded for over a year now," said Emily Hill, founder of South London Laces. "We support a lot of women and girls who can’t afford to play football in the local area and this upgrade is really needed. There are over 100 women playing here every Sunday and we need to provide facilities that offer a safe and comfortable space to get changed."

At an event to unveil the project attended by FIFA’s Deputy Secretary General Zvonimir Boban, as well as FIFA Legends Laura Georges, Nwankwo Kanu, Mark Schwarzer, Gilberto Silva, Kelly Smith and Rachel Yankey, the importance of grassroots football was made abundantly clear.

“This is the true impact of hosting The Best FIFA Football Awards in London, a truly passionate city with an active and engaged grassroots scene," Boban said. "FIFA is giving back to the football world and continuing to invest in developing youth football, across both genders, to continue to grow the game. Today, we have seen exactly why that matters. On Monday night, we will celebrate the top players and coaches of the sport, so today we celebrate the unsung heroes of our global game.

“The Best FIFA Football Awards is about ‘giving football back to the fans’ and it is important that the local children here today will be attending the final show. We believe in giving more opportunities at grassroots level, and these new changing rooms aim to give hope to young players that someday they may too get the chance to win a trophy at The Best FIFA Football Awards.”

Refurbishment details

  • 6-8 weeks of work until completion

  • Work began this week

  • Separate female facilities for the first time

  • Changing rooms, toilet block and shower facilities part of renovation

After the global extravaganza of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™, the world’s footballing gaze has already started to turn towards next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup™ in France. With the top players and coaches of the women’s game set to be honoured at The Best FIFA Football Awards on Monday, the spotlight is shining brightly on women’s football ahead of France 2019.

"This shows that FIFA is not just about the World Cup, it’s about improving football in general," said Laura Georges, FIFA Legend and former France international. "Everyone in the world is interested to see the best players on earth to play in France next year. But we don’t have superstars if we don’t train the little kids."

"It’s important to show girls that they have the same facilities. They are welcome on the pitch."

A light-hearted small-sided game between the FIFA Legends and local teams of varying age and gender served as a suitable showcase of inclusivity. The renovation of Clapham Common’s facilities will hopefully send a message that the beautiful game is to be enjoyed by everyone.

"It’s nice to be around these players," said World Cup winner Gilberto Silva. "It’s this kind of space where we started playing football. If we improve the conditions for them, they can be inspired to play the game they love. That’s important."