England legends Stuart Pearce and Laura Bassett dusted off their boots for a once-in-a-lifetime training session with Camden Town Women to celebrate the club’s flagship new sponsorship deal with Entain.
Former Three Lions skipper Pearce, a long-term ambassador of Entain’s Pitching In grassroots investment fund, and 63-cap Lioness Bassett were put through their paces at the Maurice Rebak Stadium, taking part in drills before offering helpful advice to members of Camden’s squad.
Pitching In is a multi-million-pound, multi-year investment programme designed to support grassroots football across the Trident Leagues – Northern Premier, Southern and Isthmian – and was launched during the Covid-19 pandemic when clubs were facing an unprecedented impact on their finances.
And after the Lionesses’ memorable European Championship triumph this summer, Pearce – who earned 78 England caps and helped fire the Three Lions to 1990 World Cup and Euro 96 semi-finals – believes that now is the perfect time to invest in women’s football.
The 60-year-old said: “There is no better time to invest in the women’s game.
“The excitement that the Euros generated, I saw it when I worked at the FA from 2007 to 2013, I worked quite closely with Hope Powell who was running the women’s game then.
“For me, she really banged the drum about women’s football and the importance of it.
“And you can see now, I’ve just spoken to some of the women here at Camden Town and they were saying that every week a new player turns up.
“Because of the excitement of the summer and England winning the Euros, the women’s game is just growing and growing.”
The increase in funding at Camden has seen the club move their home games from Regent’s Park to the Maurice Rebak Stadium, a ground they share with Pitching In Isthmian League Premier Division side Wingate & Finchley.
And Bassett was delighted to see the impact of Entain’s funding, saying: “It is fantastic to see the work that Entain do.
“The commitment involved is so important, and that is really what it takes.
“It is going to take commitment, passion and investment to really keep driving the standards up and provide better opportunities for people.
“I was playing senior women’s football at 14 because there was such a lack of grassroots clubs that I could really play for.
“The investment can really improve standards by improving the environment these girls play in as well as the facilities.
“It is so important that we capitalise on the Lionesses’ performances in the summer and their success.
“We have got the visibility, the eyes, the attention, the awareness and the accessibility but there is a big push to get the opportunities now.
“More than ever, girls are really wanting to get involved and play the game, but it is about knowing where to go and what to do.
“It is even more important that the investment is there now than it ever was.”
Solicitor advocate McKenzie Webster moved to London from Boston in 2013 and was inspired to get back involved in football after watching the 2019 World Cup.
She soon discovered Camden and has played on the wing for them ever since.
Webster was delighted to see the progress at the club and believes the injection of Entain’s support can fire them to the next level.
She added: “It is incredible to see how much we have grown over the last three years.
“The sponsorship with Pitching In and Entain is hopefully going to take us to the next level and take all of women’s football to the next level, it is really amazing.
“We went from playing in Regent’s Park to here at the Maurice Rebak Stadium and it is such an amazing thing.”
Entain, the global betting and gaming operator behind Ladbrokes and Coral, is proud to support Camden Town FC as part of its ‘Pitching In’ Grassroots Investment Fund. Through Pitching In, Entain supports community sport, including the ‘Pitching In’ Trident Leagues.