FA reveals promising national trends
Fri 10th Dec 2010 | Football Governance
The Football Association have detailed some promising findings in their recently published National Game Strategy 2008-12 Year Two Report, confirming that some areas have shown progress way beyond initial expectations as the grassroots game across England is thriving, including the creation of 1,745 new youth teams.
Several key priorities established after the Year One review included halting the decline in adult male 11v11 football, which appears to have been achieved in Year Two as over 30,701 teams are now registered with leagues around the Country. The ambition for this season is to grow that to 30,995, while 1.8m children have now been trained through The FA Tesco Skills programme.
Having a qualified match official for every game is also a priority and good progress is being made towards this ultimate goal, with 2,332 new referees recruited and trained in the past year alone and 40 per cent of the grassroots community having seen their football experience improve thanks to The FA’s Respect Programme. Kelly Simmons, The FA’s Head of National Game, said: “We are delighted by the continued progress we are making.”
The strategy has four main goals: to grow and retain participation, to raise standards and address abusive behaviour, to develop better players and to run the game effectively. Kelly continued: “I am particularly pleased that we have managed to stop the decline in men’s eleven-a-side - the game at the heart of grassroots football. There is still much to do over the next two seasons but we are making a genuine, positive and sustained difference to the game we all love.”
Back in March 2008, The FA announced it’s biggest ever programme of investment into grassroots football, totalling £200 million, setting out a strategy for the next five years. That vision was for everyone to have an opportunity to be involved in football and to be the best they could be, ensuring football is played, watched and enjoyed in a safe, positive environment.
A consultation took place with over 37,000 people, the largest in The FA’s history, which led to some challenging targets being set. More backup would be sought for the 400,000 volunteers who run the game at a local level in addition to working on an improvement in the behaviour of players and spectators and addressing the critically high numbers of referees dropping out.
After the review of the first year’s achievements in March 2009, the strategy had proved a huge success to date, with overachievement in all but two national targets - those two categories being the retention of teams within the eleven-a-side adult game and the number of registered and active referees. It was clear action needed to be taken to progress these two areas.
The Respect programme was viewed as one way to combat the fact that 7,000 referees leave the grassroots game every season, primarily because of the abuse they receive on the pitch and from the sidelines. Work also continued on the ‘pathway for talent’, starting with the FA Tesco Skills Programme which works with 5-11-year-olds to breed a new generation of players. The Year Two figures have since gone on to reveal further grounds for optimism.
You can download the Year Two Report into the National Game Strategy for 2008-12 at www.essexfa.com, as well as Essex’s own strategy entitled ‘Shaping Football in Essex’. Opportunities to ‘GetIntoFootball’ can be found here as well as a wealth of information on the grassroots game across the County.
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