Southgate, who is part of the Football Association’s Respect campaign in association with Nationwide, saw the Three Lions’ UEFA Nations League hopes go up in smoke in the autumn after a string of disciplinary issues.
Defender Harry Maguire was arrested while on holiday in Greece that made him unavailable for two matches, Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood broke coronavirus rules while on England duty in Iceland and were subsequently sent home and Maguire was then sent off in a home defeat to Denmark.
The England manager added: “What strikes you is that we’re all aware grassroots clubs and grassroots sport everywhere has been so dramatically hit and that’s not just an impact on kids and their ability to go and exercise and keep healthy, that’s community connections that have been missing and people have had to find ways of navigating that in their own communities.
“I recognise it’s not me it’s the role I’m in and the position I’m in can have an impact in certain areas. If we’re supportive at the highest end, in terms of the national team, then ultimately every player that plays for us started at a grassroots club and everything should filter from bottom to top, top to bottom in that regard.
“We often think about grassroots football as the vehicle for finding the next Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane, whoever it might be, but the reality is it’s so much bigger than that. Most kids just want to play and have fun. They want to be with their friends. They want to get away from schoolwork that they’ve been ploughing through all week and get out and have exercise and enjoyment.”
:: Nationwide & The FA has pledged to ensure that one million parents and coaches engage with The FA Respect campaign over the next three years. The Nationwide Mutual Respect Award, as part of The Football Association’s Respect Campaign, aims to help make grassroots football more respectful and positive.