Grassroots game in England "thriving", says FA

The sound of groans may have filled the Wembley air as France humbled England this week, but there are more positive noises emanating from the FA’s headquarters about the health of the grassroots game.

The Football Association released results for Season Two of the National Game Strategy (NGS) last week and the headline message from the governing body is that the grassroots game across England is “thriving”.

When the NGS was released in 2008, development targets were set out across six areas: growing participation, standards of behaviour, devloping better players, running the game effectively, supporting the workforce and improving facilities.

14 of the 19 targets set are on course to be met at this halfway stage, whilst in some areas progress is exceeding expectations by some margin.

Among these is the area of youth development, where the 1.83 million children to have passed through The FA Tesco Skills programme surpasses not only the FA’s 2010 target (1.43m) but the final 2012 target of 1.67m.

The FA hope that their Tesco Skills programme, along with the 1,745 new youth teams created across the country, will help improve the skills of today’s younger generation to be more technically-adept adult players in the future.

At adult level, the decline in male 11 v 11 football – a key focus for The FA last year – has been reversed, something that pleases the FA’s Head of National Game, Kelly Simmons.

“We are delighted by the continued progress we are making, said Simmons. “I am particularly pleased that we have managed to stop the decline in men’s 11-a-side – the game at the heart of grassroots football.”

Whilst the 30,701 mens teams now registered with leagues across England is over 400 teams short of the FA’s 2010 target, the decline in numbers witnessed as recently as last year has now been reversed, with the FA aiming to increase the number to 30,995 in the 12 months.

Simmons added: “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.”

Click here to view the National Game Stategy Year Two Report (pdf file).

Let us know your thoughts!

What do you think of the NGS Year Two Report?  Do you agree with the FA that the grassroots game in England is thriving? How do you think the FA is doing in developing and nurturing the national game?

And it doesn’t matter if you’re English, Welsh, Scottish or Irish – we want to hear what you think about the state of the grassroots football in this country and whether the game’s governing bodies are focussing their efforts in the right areas.

Give us your thoughts and questions and we’ll be putting the best of them to key figures from each of the Football Associations throughout this season.

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Dan Pope
Writer at Teamer
Freelance writer, editor and copywriter, with a passion for grassroots sport. A right back turned football writer, Dan is the former editor of Club Website and has been lucky enough to work in the field of grassroots and community sport for the last 10 years.

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  1. Jim ORourke on November 19, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    Every amateur match I go to in Northampton I see grown men and lads stripping off in the car park because there are no changing rooms or proper facilities.
    Many matches take part in public parks and this spectacle is embarrassing for the players, embarassing for the public using the park, and this damages the grassroots game. Let us have proper football facilities please.

  2. tony boorman on November 19, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    so they say grassroots football at adult level is on the up , i am on a committee for a sunday morning football league and also run two teams myself and i can tell you from my own personal experience that the amount of teams that go under during the season is rising mainly due to lack of financing and lack of decent facilities .
    on the funding side basically there is no money available and what was available has been cut due to lack of government funding ,facilities are now lacking in certain boroughs and a decent pitch costs good money these days , training facilities and pitches and the refs fees for the season set my club alone £4000 for a season + then you have all the other costs on top .

    i have quite a few youngsters playing for and unemployed so as you can imagine it can be difficult , sponsers are few and far between and those that do mainly only sponser kids teams as that is where most of the funding goes too .

    the fa may feel there doing there job but let me put it this way teams like mine are at the bottom of the pile and all that money that they say is available very rarely comes down to a club like ours , just remember we still pay our fines like every other club and if it was not for clubs like mine paying in were would the people from the fa get there money

    tony boorman
    sporting st george fc chairman

  3. Greg Spence on November 19, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    I coach U11’s in a small club in Chulmleigh North Devon.Two of our players have been approached by Exeter.
    The grass roots game may be thriving but probably with quality not quantity.
    Parental/managerial attitudes towards winning are still killing the game.Aggression rather than skill is still too high on priorities.
    This attitude was clearly demonstrated by the nonsense from both press and so called TV experts pressuring Capello to include Caroll in the England team and then complaining about skill levels and playing the long ball, what a joke!!

  4. Elvis on November 19, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    Grassroots may be thriving, but in our club, we’re definitely bankrolling the senior teams! We get nothing in return for high membership fees (the juniors pay the same as the seniors yet the seniors get the new goals and kits – whilst our kids use 10 yr old hand-me-down kits and patched up goals (surprising what you can do with plastic plumbing pipe!)!

  5. Jim O'Rourke on November 22, 2010 at 10:04 am

    Its very strange that the Government ‘s Mr Gove has decided sports funding will not be ring fenced in schools as it is now. What influence does the FA have at strategic decision level in government because this decision will cause the closure of existing youth football teams? Where will the growth of mens football teams come from then?

  6. Ken Inckle on November 28, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    The 11 v 11 game in Burnley on a Saturday has more or less gone. The Burnley Saturday League once had 5 big Leagues , 2 years ago the League folded. Now Burnley has just 4 teams playing in the East Lancashire Football League.
    The reason, I don’t know, the facilities are poor and you have to pay £50 for a Council Pitch.
    My young players tell me computers and cheap alcohol is the reason. I think finance has alot to do with it, when you play at home £25 for the Ref £50 for the pitch. you need to ask at least £5 per game, then you have training sessions another £3 or £4. unemployment, low wages, students. You can’t get grants to run teams these days, si I think its a number of things. HELP we need finance.

  7. Lee Kill on December 16, 2010 at 9:16 am

    Is grassroots football thriving? My experience may be of the minority but I think not. I referee 4 or 5 times a week at grassroots level and facilities seem to be a major factor in whether clubs / teams are thriving or just surviving. An example is Edmonton Rangers, a charter standard youth football club where I referee every week. What a great bunch of people. However, because all they have is the field they rent from a nearby school with absolutely no other facilities, no changing , showers, anything, I have witnessed a reduction in teams over the u13 age group playing for the club. There are now none. It would appear that parents go to clubs with better facilities and who can blame them. These poor kids playing in all weathers must look forward to playing their away games. If only a small amount of funding could be found for a couple of portakabins or something for them to change in. It would make such a difference to the kids and the people that run the club. More teams = more revenue = a better future for a really good club. Thanks

  8. Bryan Mycroft on July 5, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    Personally, I think the FA is deluded to think that grassroots football is thriving. I’m struggling to pay the expensive fees for my 12 year old to play for his local youth team. If grassroots football is thriving then it won’t be for very long, well not for working class families. Very soon it is going to be a game for the rich only. Why should we be surprised by this when we hear about corruption from those running the show! The government and FA talk about changes and reform to make football accessible to everyone. I don’t think there is any substance to this!

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