A Sheffield charity has announced that it will be expanding to Manchester later this month – less than a year after it was founded.

Football for Foodbanks launched in August 2020 after founder Matty Cassell noticed an increase in people wanting to play football again after the U.K’s first national lockdown.

The charity rents football pitches across Sheffield to ensure matches are as accessible as possible. Players are charged an affordable extra fee compared to the cost of renting the pitch with the extra proceeds going to a local foodbank.

For example, if a pitch would usually cost £30 for an hour 5-a-side game, and 10 people are playing, the usual cost would be £3 each. 

Football for Foodbanks instead charges each player £4, meaning a quarter of the money would go to those that need it.

Last month, the money raised was enough to supply families around Sheffield with 450kgs of food – the equivalent to 90 bags of shopping. 

Tom Moore, who will head up the new Manchester division said: “Since turning up for a kick-about to get fit post lockdown, I’ve seen Football for Foodbanks grow into a cracking little community of players and volunteers from all over Sheffield. 

“Moving over to Manchester has given me the opportunity to continue that good work across the Pennines. I’m massively excited to share an initiative that has given me such a huge boost, to try and help bring communities closer together as we ease out of lockdown.”

Despite launching in the shadow of lockdown, Sheffield’s Football for Foodbanks has experienced a huge increase in the number of people signing up.

After starting with just a handful of teams, there are now over 300 players in the men’s division with a new women and gender minorities league being launched to widen participation even further.

Alice Rhind Tutt, who runs the women and gender minorities division said: “We had a lot of people signing up after lockdown saying they were looking for something new to try.

“People are looking for somewhere to exercise but also socialise. That’s something we’ve all missed out on massively over the last year.

“I think especially in terms of casual football matches there’s not a lot of opportunities to go and have a kick about. A lot of it seems to either be leagues or expensive. Most places expect a lot of commitment, for example playing every Wednesday at 6pm.

“A lot of adults just can’t manage that. Especially if they’re a parent.”

Football for Foodbanks instead provides a barrier-free alternative.

Each week the charity posts upcoming games in its Facebook group, with members simply having to comment “in” to secure a place in an upcoming game.

Football for Foodbanks’ Manchester division’s first game will take place on 20th May.

Sheffield’s Football For Foodbanks will also be playing on the same day at Sheffield High School for Girls, with proceeds going towards tackling period poverty in the local area.

Alice Rhind Tutt said: “Aside from food donations it’s also important to point out that Foodbanks accept hygiene products. Lots of people don’t know this so we’ve decided to focus on that for our upcoming game”