Non-League day is worth celebrating
Why non-league football deserves its day of recognition in the absence of the Premier League
This weekend marks the first international break since the Premier League began, and while the elite professionals prepare to represent their countries in the World Cup qualifiers, qualifiers which see a break in both Premier League and Championship football, others continue with their schedule of another hectic season of football.
League One and Two continue and will be the focus of most 3pm enthusiasts this weekend, and rightly so.
The bottom two tiers offer the stripped down beauty of football, as well as high entertainment, but this weekend the focus should also be elsewhere, to the parts of English football that gain small media coverage, and is of small interest to the wider audience, the non-league system.
Whilst this Saturday has no fixtures in the top two tiers, the day should still be marked in the calendar for all football enthusiasts as 'non-league day'; a day designated to celebrate semi-professional and grassroots football, now in its fourth year.
Whereas the return of the professional football season is celebrated like Christmas has come early, and people using the post-game to drink and discuss like it is New Year's Eve, there is a difference between the show and camaraderie of the Premier League and non-league football. That difference is simply put; that those who compete do not do it for money or fame, but for love of the game.
This is not to say that Premier League stars do not love the sport that play for a profession, far from it, but their love of the game is not the only thing that motivates them to remain there. Instead huge contracts, massive sponsorships and unprecedented fame are all perks of being a Premier League footballer.
But for non-league footballers, there is no £30,000 a week pay package, there is not even a £30,000 a year pay packet, instead the vast majority of non-league footballers have to utilise their playing careers with real jobs in order to live, to provide for their families. If money was their motivation for football, they'd fit the stereotype of footballers lacking brains to a tee because in non-league, there is not much to be made.
Instead, their love for the game takes centre stage in their reasoning for playing every Saturday when they could be spending that time relaxing after a hard week of working in whatever profession they have. This is why it deserves the recognition of a day of celebration.
Going down even further, grassroots football offers the 'Everyman' a chance to don a full kit and turn out for a team in a game properly organised and with an actual referee present. It gives fans who love to watch the game a chance to play the game they love.
The Premier League may be off for a week, but use the chance to go down with a few friends to a non-league game near you, pay for your ticket and do your bit to help teams that are a million miles away from the teams that dominate media coverage every single weekend.
The non-league offers a chance to experience a matchday at a reasonable price, leaving you feeling much wealthier and arguably just as entertained, the affiliation and love of the team you are watching may not be there, but the love of the game will.
Just one weekend of experiencing football at the very bottom, and then everyone can prepare for all the hype of Gareth Bale's move to Madrid and Mesut Özil's record-breaking move to the Premier League.
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