EASTLEIGH FC are celebrating the award of a £4,500 Grow the Game grant, attracting praise from England manager Gareth Southgate.

The grant, which will provide a boost to grassroots football in Eastleigh and the surrounding areas, has paved the way for the ladies’ and girls’ section to create three new teams over the next two years.

The money will go towards gaining the qualifications required to ensure Eastleigh’s ladies and girls get the correct training from the volunteers who help to run the teams.

Eastleigh, named the Hampshire FA ‘Inclusive Club of the Year’ for 2017, have been applauded for their efforts by the England boss.

Southgate, a Football Foundation ambassador, said: “I am so pleased that Eastleigh FC has secured this Grow the Game grant.

“The club has worked very hard with Hampshire FA and the Football Foundation to get more local people playing football so that they can enjoy the many physical and mental benefits that come with playing regular sport.

“Grow the Game is mainly funded by The FA and delivered by the Football Foundation.

"This is money that is flowing from the very top of the game down to the lowest levels, to help clubs at the grassroots to bear the cost of starting up a new team, whether it be for a new kit, pitch hire or sending volunteers on FA-accredited coaching courses.”

A £2.5m programme, Grow the Game awards grants to grassroots football clubs that wish to create new teams, especially among under-represented groups.

£1,500 is available to help FA-affiliated clubs with the cost of creating a new team, which might include the cost FA coaching courses, FA league affiliation costs, referees’ fees, first aid kits and even football kit and equipment.

Gazz Davison, Eastleigh’s head of community, commented: “This funding is vital to allow the continual growth of ladies’ and girls’ football at The Silverlake Stadium.

“Last season we started with three teams and now, in our second season of female football, we have expanded to six teams.

“Getting coaches the correct training can be expensive but, with the help from the Football Foundation and The FA, we can continue our growth programme with sustainability to ensure ladies' and girls' football remains high on the agenda at Eastleigh FC.”

Since it was launched in 2010, Grow the Game has attracted a total of 161,285 new footballers into playing regularly.

Last year it achieved 2,159 new teams, 8,787 female footballers, 23,332 male footballers and 5,715 new coaching qualifications.