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WATCH: Initiative helps Deveronvale stay connected

By Kyle Ritchie

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Deveronvale is one of 15 grassroots football clubs in Scotland BT has connected with broadband and provided digital skills training, as clubs and their communities look to recover from the Covid-19 crisis.

The work is part of BT’s role as lead partner of Scottish football. Working with the football associations, the company identified the key areas of the game that needed the most support and developed the 4-3-3 football strategy.

The partnership includes a commitment to provide grassroots clubs across the country with a package of free products and services including broadband and wi-fi connectivity.

The aim is to support grassroots clubs in their role as hubs for the local community.

The connectivity will help the football clubs set up things like free guest wi-fi for supporters, taking wireless card payments and video streaming of matches and training sessions.

Despite the coronavirus restrictions, BT has been able to connect 15 grassroots clubs in Scotland, with plans to connect more by the end of the summer.

The firm will also work with the connected clubs to help make them hubs to offer digital and employability skills support in the local community, through BT’s Skills for Tomorrow programme.

Deveronvale used the new connectivity to live stream their Scottish Cup game against Camelon Juniors FC so fans could watch their team while restrictions did not allow them to attend, paying £5, and generating crucial match day revenue.

Kevin Stewart from the club said: “We are delighted to be partnering through the BT Connected Clubs initiative.

"It not only reduces costs to the club, but also opens offerings like the guest wi-fi, which we didn't have before, and the introduction of our contactless payment system and booking system.

“The connectivity has already allowed us to do things like live stream our Scottish Cup match so fans could watch at home.

Deveronvale's Kevin Stewart.
Deveronvale's Kevin Stewart.

"This went down very well with fans who weren’t able to attend the match in person.

"It’s also enabled our personal trainers to live stream fitness classes to our members, which we’re going to continue to do, as the club moves forward.

“As a community hub, we’ll also be using the technology and skills to support local families with things like improving health and wellbeing and tackling unemployment.”

Scottish FA chief executive Ian Maxwell said: “As Scotland begins to recover from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, grassroots football clubs across the nation will play an integral role in bringing people back together.

“Their importance as the hubs of their local communities has been highlighted even more by the events of the last year, so combining football and technology to help them get back on their feet through our partnership with BT will provide a welcome boost.”

Pete Jeavons, BT's marketing communications director, said: “Supporting grassroots football is an integral part of our 4-3-3 football strategy.

"We know how important grassroots football clubs are across the country, so by linking them to the latest technology, connectivity and digital skills, we can help build their role as community hubs.

“People up and down the country are desperate to return to their local clubs, so we hope this will give these first connected clubs and their communities a small lift.”

BT created a one-off special TV show to celebrate the importance of grassroots football, as clubs begin to re-open.

The hour-long Grassroots Football Show has been aired on BT Sport and is also available to watch via BT Sport’s YouTube channel. It can be viewed below:

In partnership with the four home nation football associations, the programme was presented by BT Sport duo Jules Breach and Robbie Savage.

It featured elite players from each of the home nations’ senior men’s teams including Scotland duo Craig Gordon and Stephen O’Donnell.

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