The Football Library
Alive and Kicking and Better
The Football Library is a joint partnership between Alive and Kicking, the world’s only not-for-profit ball manufacturer, and Better, the charitable social enterprise that delivers leisure, health and community services including operating public libraries. As a result, children visiting certain Better libraries can now access an ethically produced football, free of charge, to play with at their local playground or park. Enjoying their own ‘library ball’ brings children together, fosters social and development goals, and breaks down barriers to sports participation. Consultation with Alive and Kicking’s community partners showed 86% of respondents deemed access to a quality ball as the main reason they did not play football. Word of mouth has successfully spread awareness of the scheme with the brightly coloured balls’ eye-catching designs engaging family members, classmates and the wider community. The pilot scheme in 3 libraries saw 400 young people borrow 80 footballs and benefit from 1,400 hours of physical activity in its first four months. Librarians have also noted that young people, when visiting their local library to borrow a ball, have taken the opportunity to access the books, free WiFi, and computers provided. The partnership has now expanded to 20 libraries with plans to expand further.