Kent Reliance football scholarship sees players through tough times
15 Nov 2022


Kent Reliance sponsors the senior, youth and coaching teams at XL@Football, a Kent-based women’s football academy, and this year we launched the Kent Reliance Scholarship.

Set up in response to the challenging economic climate, the scholarship offers places to players who are financially vulnerable and/or exceptionally talented, to help them develop to their full potential.

As the country finds itself in the midst of a cost of living crisis, some players and their families are struggling to meet the financial cost of being part of a football team – such as kits, equipment and travelling to matches. Kent Reliance offers a range of sponsorship to XL@Football (including the scholarship programme) and these funds have proved vital in helping players to continue their training.

Community spirit

The same as many other local groups, the XL@Football community are having to pull together now more than ever before. One initiative the club has implemented is a ‘boot bag’, where families can make an anonymous donation of new and used football boots back to the club, which helps other players and their families who might be struggling with increasing costs (and growing children).

Stuart Grist, XL@Football Technical Director and Founder, said: “The sense of community has always been strong within the XL@Football family but now as we all face rising costs and uncertain times, this is stronger than ever before. We have a wide range of players and families from varying backgrounds and it’s amazing to see everyone pull together to ensure the girls can continue to train without any barriers. The boot bag is an amazing example of just how everyone is supporting each other and with it being anonymous, nobody faces any embarrassment of needing a helping hand.”

A strong partnership

XL@Football believe that a young person’s financial situation shouldn’t hamper ambition or talent and that these opportunities should be open to all. At Kent Reliance we believe that as well, which is why we’re proud to be part of this collaboration and support one another.

The partnership means that the club has been able to take on more players, buy vital equipment needed for training that wouldn’t normally be available to grassroots teams, and really work on developing the players’ skills.

The Kent Reliance Scholarship programme is just one of a range of opportunities being offered by the club, which has recently built an under-18s team to bridge the gap for players between the youth team and the adult game.

The success of the Lionesses at the EUROS is still having an impact at grassroots level, showing the girls that anything can be achieved. But sponsorships and partnerships like ours are crucial for these clubs to continue, especially during the current economic crisis.

Paul Whitlock, Group Managing Director of Savings at OSB Group, said: “The cost of living crisis is impacting everyone across the country. As a long-standing savings provider with strong community roots, Kent Reliance and its branches sit in the heart of local communities. I’ve seen first-hand the club’s passion and desire for women’s football and to see how they are evolving to help support one another during these times is exceptional. We’re truly delighted to be part of a collaboration that has such strong community spirit.”