The Football Association have revealed that the £200m investment in delivering the 2008-2012 National Game Strategy has resulted in growing participation and the improvement of grassroots football at all levels.
The strategy was developed in 2008 following consultation with over 37,000 people at the heart of the game from coaches, referees and players to volunteers, fans, administrators and County FAs. Committed to implementing the ‘Peoples' Plan’ The FA has put in place a national and regional delivery team responsible for its success.
Since the £200m plan was launched in March 2008 the National Game Strategy has led to the following developments relating to four clear goals:
Goal 1 – Grow and Retain Participation
- The FA has honoured its commitment to support and grow participation at all levels of the game. The focus on Mini-Soccer has quickly delivered results with over 4,212 new teams being formed.
- The girls' game has also seen an increase in popularity with the number of new teams exceeding targets, an increase of 1178 new teams so far.
- The FA will place a core focus in season two on its ‘Get Into Football’ campaign, increasing the number of teams playing 11v11 in the men’s game. The ‘Whatever Your Level’ viral campaign (reaching over 4m web visitors) and ‘Grassroots Goal of the Month’ competition fronted by football pundit Chris Kamara have been central to The FA’s recruitment of new teams and players as we move into season two, and there will be a wide range of activity taking place to improve 11v11 numbers around the country in the build-up to the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.
- Pilot schemes offering flexible adult 11-a-side leagues, midweek games and ‘pay and play’ formats have trialled successfully in Berkshire and Buckinghamshire.
- Providing equal opportunities to play, The FA has since seen a dramatic rise in male disability teams from 88 to 362 in 2009.
Goal 2 – Raise Standards and Address Abusive Behaviour
62% of clubs have achieved The FA Charter Standard which includes having qualified coaches, child protection policies and procedures and Respect codes of conduct. The FA aims to ensure everyone in football has the opportunity to enjoy the game in a safe and positive environment.
570 leagues have signed up to The FA Respect programme, implementing measures to improve behaviour in the grassroots game. The 2012 target is to ensure that all grassroots leagues are participating in Respect Leagues and that 510 Leagues also achieve The FA Charter Standard accreditation.
All clubs and leagues with youth sections have appointed a Welfare Officer to oversee safeguarding policies and procedures.
1,658 new FA-qualified referees have been attracted to the game, helping to fulfil The FA’s vision of having certified referees taking control of amateur games. The FA’s ‘Get Into Refereeing’ campaign, in association with Carlsberg, will be integral to increasing new officials from 22,525 to 30,525 by 2012.
Goal 3 – Develop Better Players
1,138,795 children have participated in The FA Tesco Skills Programme aimed at raising the technical standards amongst the 5-11 year old age group (initial 2009 target was focused on securing 1m participants).
32,000 coaches have qualified at the Level 1 Coaching award. 6,000 coaches have also gained the Level 2 award and 1,100 at Level 3 through The FA’s educational arm, FA Learning, which gives coaches the practical skills to coach but also enables them to understand the psychology of how children learn.
Goal 4 – Run The Game Effectively
Investment of £196m in Year 1 of Football Foundation grants issued to improve the quality, quantity and accessibility of training and playing facilities. 40 new artificial pitches have been created through Football Foundation grants.
Greater support and practical tools have been provided to those responsible for organising grassroots football via our re-launched website, TheFA.com and the introduction of three monthly grassroots football e-newsletters. TheFA.com has also asked people involved at all levels what improvements they want to see happen via the annual online survey.
Building on the momentum of the National Game Strategy the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ provides an exciting opportunity to further inspire participation in 11v11 and recruit coaches capable of developing future England footballers. The England senior squad will also be actively involved in the drive to increase participation within the men’s game at grassroots level.
Sport England’s four-year funding cycle will also bring £85m worth of investment to the game including £60m for the Football Foundation from 2009-13. The support for grassroots football will be welcomed alongside the new four-year relationship with Mars, and The FA’s committed partners whose support has been invaluable in delivering the first phase of the National Game Strategy.
Kelly Simmons, The FA's Head of National Game, said: “We are delighted with the progress we have made in year one of the strategy, and would like to record our appreciation to our FA partners and the volunteer workforce who have made this possible. However, there is still much work to do as we move into season two, and we must continue to work together to deliver on our overall goal of giving everyone the opportunity to play football in a safe, fun and high quality environment.”