Gary Lineker has put his best foot forward to kick-off this year’s ‘Big Help Out’ drive for volunteers to help run grassroots football and sports clubs and get youngsters involved in healthy activities.

The former Spurs striker was joined by netball star Geva Mentor for the launch at a youth sports day at Park Royal’s Asda store with the Connect Stars community group, which tackles social exclusion among young people.

A lack of volunteers is proving to be “a major barrier” to youngsters getting actively involved, say campaigners.

There are two million fewer people up and down the country willing to spend time helping youngsters than there were five years ago before the pandemic, research has found.

“Local sports clubs short of volunteers can fold if they haven’t got the people to make them work,” Lineker warns. “Getting involved could be saving a community.

“We need volunteers more than ever, whether it’s the coach, the ref, the groundsman, the person who does the teas, washes the kit or sorts the fixture lists.

“There are thousands of people who give a bit of their time to make sure the rest of us can play.”

The Big Help Out is the country’s biggest annual volunteering campaign which is running this year on the long weekend from June 7 to 9.

The Asda supermarket chain is holding 350 litter picks with grassroots groups to support the drive aimed at remove barriers to youngsters getting into sports.

The Asda Foundation is also giving £1,000 for a girls’ summer camp, for example, giving them a safe space to take part in sports during the school summer holiday.

The foundation’s Chris McKellar said: “Grass roots groups rely on volunteers and fundraising. The ‘Big Help Out’ aims to encourage volunteering, whether through litter picks or at a local group. Just a small amount of time can make a huge difference.”

All people have to do if they want to volunteer is download the ‘Big Help Out’ app, say organisers, tap in what they’re interested in and where they live and it will tell them all the activities in that area.