England legend Carney supports National Lottery Football Weekends campaign

Former England international and National Lottery Football Weekend Ambassador Karen Carney

Former England international and National Lottery Football Weekend Ambassador Karen Carney - Credit: Getty Images for National Lottery

Former Lionesses legend Karen Carney has revealed how non-league and local football set her on the road to  stardom and has urged people to take up the chance to go and watch their local team for free as part of The National Lottery Football Weekends campaign.

The 34-year-old won 144 caps for England during a glittering career, which also took in Champions League success and spells at Arsenal and Chelsea.

And although Carney is now forging a successful career as a respected football pundit her love affair with the beautiful game started with trips to see her local non-league team Moor Green with her football-mad family.

Carney was back at the club, these days called Solihull Moors, to celebrate grassroots football as part of The National Lottery Football Weekends campaign which is making over 100,000 ‘Buy One Get One Free’ tickets available for non-league and local football club games across the UK including matches this weekend.

Carney said: “I’ve walked out at Wembley for my country, played in Champions League finals and played in a home Olympics but this club and non-league football was where my football journey began.

"My memories were of coming with my mum and dad, walking to the game with them, watching the match and when they would go to the bar after, I’d go for a kick about next to the pitch. That’s where I learned to play football and fell in love with the game.”

Over 230 non-league and local clubs across the UK are part of the campaign and ticket offer The clubs, who are largely reliant on matchday revenue, shared over £12.5 million of emergency National Lottery funding at the height of the Covid pandemic – a time when their futures were uncertain.

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Now, two years on from when they were forced to close their doors during the pandemic, many are thriving again with crowds on the up and links between clubs and their local communities perhaps stronger than they have ever been.

Carney added: “It’s scary to think what might have been lost if clubs hadn’t survived the pandemic and that’s why the support from The National Lottery was so important.

"It’s not just about the football. These clubs are so vital to their local communities and without that funding these communities would have been so badly hit.”

The National Lottery Football Weekends campaign is making over 100,000 tickets available on a ‘Buy One Get One Free’ basis for National Lottery players for selected matches as a ‘thank you’ for over £12.5million of funding they helped provide to community football clubs during the Covid pandemic.

To find out more visit www.thenationallotteryfootballweekends.co.uk.