The PFA Young Player of the Year, Kyle Walker, and England Women’s striker, Ellen White, today launched a new initiative from The FA and Vauxhall Motors aimed at tackling the football drop out of teenagers in the 14-17 age group.
The England players visited the Vauxhall Recreation Centre in Luton to kick start The FA Vauxhall Youth programme, which is known as Football Mash Up.
The initiative follows an extensive study by HPI, commissioned by The FA and England Team Sponsor and FA Youth Partner Vauxhall Motors, to determine the factors affecting drop out within this age group.
The Football Mash Up sessions aim to tackle these issues head on by offering a recreational form of football in after-school clubs, played in quality small-sided facilities and run by specialist FA Vauxhall Youth officers.
England and Tottenham defender, Walker, who took part in a Football Mash Up session with a group of young players, said; “I really enjoyed the Football Mash Up sessions this afternoon and it is a fantastic programme aimed at keeping players in the game.
“No matter what level you reach there is nothing better than having a game of football with your mates and the Football Mash Up programme gives teenagers the opportunity to take control and play on their terms.”
Arsenal and England Striker Ellen White was also supporting of the programme; “It is great to see The FA and Vauxhall launching Football Mash Up, teenagers need a fun and friendly environment to play after school with their friends and the sessions that we took part in today are really inclusive, which means boys and girls can play whatever their ability may be and I think this will really make a difference.”
14-17 year-olds will be able to sign up for a 10-week block of sessions, which will cater for all abilities and fitness levels. It is hoped that these sessions will inspire teenagers to get back into affiliated football in either small-sided or 11 v 11 formats.
Duncan Aldred, Managing Director and Chairman of Vauxhall Motors, said; “We are delighted to launch Football Mash Up here in Luton at the Vauxhall Recreation Centre.
“Tackling the issues of youth participation is vital for the future good of the game and alongside The FA we are determined to make a significant impact on the dropout rates at this age group.
“Our commitment to football in this country begins at the grassroots and continues right through to the national senior teams for both men and women and Football Mash Up forms an important part of our sponsorship.”
The FA and Vauxhall have appointed eight full-time specialist officers with a target of facilitating Football Mash Up sessions for over 50,000 teenage footballers throughout the year.
The coaches will also help support teenage football in schools and clubs, helping to re-instil young people’s affection for playing the game and deliver high quality training.
The FA’s Director of Football Services Jonathan Hall said of the new programme; “The FA Vauxhall Youth Football Mash Up programme will really help us tackle the issues that are currently affecting the 14-17 age range. We really believe the programme will open up football to a whole new audience of teenagers, whatever their ability or fitness level. We hope this is the first step in getting those that are disengaged back into affiliated football.”
As part of their focus on the 14-25 age group and drive to address participation rates, Sport England has committed to match-fund £100,000 of Vauxhall’s investment through its SportsMatch scheme to launch the programme.
Sport England Chief Executive Jennie Price added; “Football plays an incredibly important role in grassroots sport, with more than 2.1 million people playing the game once a week. We’re delighted that Vauxhall is working with The FA and Sport England to keep more youngsters involved in our national game by creating new recreational opportunities for young people to take part.”