Today marks the start of the 2014 World Cup. Over the next few weeks we get to witness the greatest players on the planet representing their countries and competing to be the best.

The World Cup is always exciting and unpredictable and always brings the country together as we watch our favourite sport. Children across Britain will surely be inspired by the drama of the competition and hopefully they’ll be driven to start playing themselves.

However, the picture for children wanting to take up football in an organised setting is far from positive. Pitch fees are climbing while the standard of pitches is falling, in the winter pitches are closed for weeks on end and children are left trying to get changed on the side-lines or in the backs of cars. We’re seeing participation numbers in decline.

Everyone deserves the chance to take part in football in a safe and organised environment with good quality facilities. Not only does it have health and social benefits for children, but making the game as open as possible will surely help our future national team as well. Where will the England team of the future come from if fewer children have the chance to play?

18 months ago I launched a petition calling for the Premier League to put more money into grassroots football which was supported by over 30,000 people and generated a great deal of discussion in the press.

In the coming weeks I will be re-launching the petition and I hope this time we can reach over 100,000 signatures and hold a debate in the House of Commons.

Good luck to the England team as they prepare for their first match, we’ll all be cheering you on, and then the hard work goes on to support the players of the future.

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