STEETON boss Roy Mason has issued a rallying cry to the Keighley and district community, urging people to get out and support grassroots football before it "dies".

Mason and his club want to make the jump from the West Riding County Amateur League and join the non-league pyramid.

But with a lack of support for football lower down the pyramid, the task is proving tough.

"It's a difficult time in grassroots football at the moment," he said.

"We're still looking to play step six football but the frustration for us is the cost to meet the criteria.

"I'm not sure if our current ground will meet the criteria, and if not we'll have to find a new ground to develop, at great cost, or ground share.

"We want to grow a junior section, have a women's team and a disability team. But with only one pitch, we don't have the facilities to do that, and we haven't got the funds to buy and develop the land, and give back to the community."

Mason continued: "You look at the amount of money in the Premier League, then you look at the amount that filters down the pyramid and it's negligible.

"There needs to be a structure where money from the top is put into grassroots.

"We need funds for more artificial pitches, as the councils just don't have the money to maintain grass ones anymore.

"It's becoming difficult to access good pitches, which stalls the development of players. They aren't getting many touches of the ball when it's just getting stuck in the mud all the time."

But it's not just the powers above that can help improve the state of grassroots football according to Mason.

He believes the local community can play a massive role and has urged more people to get involved in the game, either by volunteering or just by going to watch.

He said: "There are not a lot of people out there willing to give up their time to volunteer in grassroots football. They see it as hard work, when really it's very rewarding.

"I'd encourage people in the local community to just go out and support their local clubs. Wherever you are, seek out your local team.

"The quality of local football is good too. It's enjoyable to watch.

"Just get down and support the clubs. Buy a programme, buy a cup of tea or coffee, pay the admission fee - it all goes back into the club.

"There is a world away from the Premier League and, if people don't realise that and start to help, grassroots will die."

As well as a lack of money and volunteers, Mason has experienced first hand a lack of players lower down the pyramid.

He believes that the transition from junior football to open age is one that young players aren't helped enough with, which is part of the reason behind Steeton running under-18s and under-19s sides.

Once players reach the age of 16, Mason isn't convinced they are being given the right guidance.

"We need to get on a younger level to get young players to clubs, making the most of platforms like social media," he said.

"The number of adults playing football is down. Young players aren't being guided to open age teams properly and then they stop playing.

"Some kids think that, if they can't become a pro, what's the point in playing? This makes it increasingly difficult for the sport at this level.

"Really, there are so many benefits, for example in terms of keeping you healthy and social.

"In our league this year, we've had a few teams pull out due to a lack of players.

"Of all the juniors clubs in Keighley, only Silsden have a senior set-up. We need to consider what platforms to use to reach young people and think about how they communicate."