Table-topping Tooting & Mitcham United are launching their own nationwide campaign to keep Non-League in the headlines and highlight the value of clubs to their communities across the country.
After the success of neighbours Sutton United and Lincoln City in the Emirates FA Cup this season, the #ISUPPORTNONLEAGUE campaign officially gets underway on Saturday 1 April at the KNK Stadium with the Terrors offering free entry to their Ryman South clash with South Park and hosting their annual community fair.
One of the most anticipated annual dates in the London Borough of Merton, the Terrors believe the fair and open day at Imperial Fields is the ideal platform to start spreading the #ISUPPORTNONLEAGUE message while giving people living in their south London community and beyond a real first-hand chance to experience the excitement and passion of Non-League and see the difference clubs can make.
Tooting & Mitcham United chairman Steve Adkins hopes others will follow their lead and start spreading the message that supporting local football is about the pride fans take in their communities and feel when they see homegrown talent go on to great things and not just the benefits of cheaper tickets and merchandising than in the top flight and Football League.
The Terrors chairman said: “This event has been launched to raise awareness about the vital role Non-League football plays in our local communities from supporting and nurturing local youth talent like we’ve done with Michail Antonio (pictured) at West Ham and a long line of players over the years, to providing local employment and volunteering opportunities.
“As well as offering venues, pitches and activities for local communities to enjoy, Non-League clubs can and often are vital local community hubs, focal points that brings residents and people together while building cohesion and community action. Highlighting this is and the pride we all feel for our clubs and communities is what our campaign is all about.”
Tooting & Mitcham Community Sports Club director Jackie Watkins believes they couldn’t be launching their bid to keep Non-League firmly on football’s map at a better time or venue with the club bidding for a return to the Ryman’s top flight and the exploits of their fellow Non-League clubs this season.
She said: “As Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger explained after Sutton United, the level of quality and passion of Non-League football is certainly what makes England unique. We hope the match and community fair will celebrate all Non-League clubs and players and spark further support.
“It will give residents and their families and friends, as well as businesses and local organisations, a great chance to come along and take a look at the wonderful range of facilities we have on offer from 3G pitches to boxing facilities, our gym, soft play area, sport bar and function room to name but a few!”
A number partner companies will also be showcasing their products and services while offering discounts and special deals and the organiser added: “The hashtag seeks to encapsulate in a slogan all that is Non-League; to raise public awareness of how much Non-League should be cherished and that’s what our day and campaign is about and dedicated too.”