Football ’is swimming against the tide’

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THE continued growth of local football – particularly the women’s game – is under threat unless high-level sponsorship can be found, the JFA chief has said.

Both the men’s and women’s national sides claimed Muratti victories on Sarnian soil a couple of weeks ago, to further highlight the gap between the two islands.

Additionally, at the highest levels of the sport, another teenager in the shape of Sammy Henia-Kamau is UK-bound to join Championship side Swansea.

All appears very rosy within the JFA when you look at it from outside.

However, since the pandemic, the issues of funding have plagued local sport, and JFA chief executive David Kennedy admitted that football was no different.

In the past few years alone, sponsor Link has withdrawn funding while the JFA Combination league is without a headline sponsor after Jacksons pulled out.

Kennedy said: ‘We have got ourselves in a really good place at present.

‘[That is] particularly evident with our latest Muratti successes and seeing yet another young star offered a contract from a professional club.

‘But, unfortunately, like most sports in the Island, football is swimming against the tide.

‘We have big plans to continue this success but, financially, the climate is getting harder and harder.’

Football remains the largest sport participation-wise in Jersey, with over 3,500 players involved, as the JFA remains well above targets set by the Football Association in both the men’s and women’s game.

‘We have some really ambitious plans, especially surrounding the girls’ and women’s game but, ultimately, we need the funding in place to make those plans a reality,’ said Kennedy.

‘The idea is to hire a development officer for girls and women to continue to develop the game and ensure that participation figures stay high through to senior football.

‘We have tried to source several partners to help fund the position. Unfortunately, that has been a much bigger challenge that we expected.

‘We thought off the back of the remarkable Lionesses win in the Euros that we would get a lot more traction in terms of financial support, but that has not materialised.

‘The reality is that, without funding, some of the plans that we have to sustain the success of local football cannot come to fruition.

‘We know that women in sport are still chronically under-represented and we need to continue to increase the number of girls that not only play the sport, but continue to play through to senior level.

‘There was a great forum recently with the clubs about how we can go about that, but everything requires significant funding and, up until now, that funding has come from ourselves and our sponsors.

‘What has become tough is that we are increasingly reliant on help from parents and carers of players to make it all possible.

‘In an ideal world, we would not be placing an additional financial burden on families that are battling through a cost-of-living crisis.’

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