FA grassroots football strategy gets £200m refresh

The Football Association today announced their plans for grassroots football in England for the next four years.

The National Game Strategy 2011-15 promises a further £200m investment in the grassroots game over this period, while refreshing the original four-year strategy, published in 2008.

Key priorities include arresting the decline in the number of men’s 11-a-side teams, implementing the recent Youth Development Review and raising standards of behaviour.

The new strategy draws on consultation with 25,000 people from the grassroots football community, including schools, County FAs and those people who completed the Big Grassroots Football Survey in March.

FA General Secretary Alex Horne said: “The FA is focused on delivering football for everyone, and we are proud of the success we have achieved over the last three seasons since our last National Game Strategy was published.

“By publishing our new refresh, we are able to let all our football stakeholders know that we have a robust framework in place to ensure funding is used to get more people playing the game, to protect facilities and provide a fun and safe football experience.”

The strategy refresh continues to focus on four core areas – Growth and retention; Raising standards of behaviour; Developing better players; Running the game effectively – and outlines for each the challenges, priorities and targets for 2015.

Key priorities for the next four years include:

  • Focusing resources on retaining and developing the existing 129,000 FA affiliated teams
  • Raising standards of player and spectator behaviour via the Respect programme
  • Providing flexible formats of football to suit changing lifestyles of players
  • Increasing football opportunities and the profile of women and minority groups
  • Expansion of the The FA Tesco Skills Programme
  • Maximising investment into facilities

There are currently 30,355 men’s 11-a-side teams in the UK – a drop of 5.4% since the 2008 strategy was launched, when there were 32,000 teams registered.

However, participation in other forms of the games has increased, with women’s 11-a-side teams up from 1,179 to 1,437 (21.9% increase), small-sided teams up 13.5% to 28,370 and disability teams up from 88 to 1,110 – a massive 1250% increase.

Roger Burden, Chair of the FA National Game Board, said: “An enormous amount of work has been delivered and it’s important that the hard work of all those involved at the grassroots level of the game is acknowledged.

“There are more boys and girls playing the game than ever before, more coaches and officials are gaining qualifications, and behaviour on and off the pitch has shown improvement.

“The next four years will be challenging in the difficult economic times, but we remain committed to achieving all our targets set out in the new refresh plan.”

The National Game Strategy 2011-15 is available to read in a PDF document or a new interactive ebook.

Have your say on the FA’s new strategy!

What do you think of the National Game Strategy 2011-15? Does it deal with the main issues facing grassroots football in England? Are you happy with the priorities that the FA has outlined for the next four years? If not, where do you think they need to focus?

Have your say in our comments section below.

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Dan Pope
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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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10 Comments

  1. sean payne on December 1, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    can somebody at the fa please look at the amount of paperwork coaches need to do ,its dis couraging good potential coaches .Making more time available for coaches to play a more active roll,i enjoy watching and coaching my own boys and have been asked to coach under 11s I trained under John lyall at westham,Paul brush at chelsea,and enjoyed the experience of playing this beutifull game,even at muppet level.

  2. john roberts on December 1, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    i help run a youth under 14s team in wrexham trying to get sponsorship for the team is hard and youth players at this age is hard

  3. ian on December 1, 2011 at 8:06 pm

    once again mens football is forgoten costs etc just keep goin up and pitches etc get worse kids women is all they careabout its hard enough to run a side try coping with the cost and players debts just makes it hard for a side to keep going sponser only want to do kids sides take a look at pitches closing and costs constantiy going up players fines once again went up this year so try gettin some one not working to pay out 25/30 a month to play football refs need to take a step back cos there not gods not being able to dispute a card has to be against your human rights guilty with out a hearing since when is that legal some refs r great and love the game others only turn up cos its all cash in hand heard ref the other week gettin changed jokin about how many he would send off and even who i the last 10 years i have had 5 players sent off and won 4 on apeal game is not about players anymore its about everyoje else

  4. Antg on December 3, 2011 at 1:55 am

    After finding an ideal opportunity and premises for a indoor training area for our youth teams the stumbling ground is the lack of help and understanding of small teams applying for large funding, its a confusing area to deal with and theres so many grants and the such like, grassroots clubs that could do with the help to develop training areas end up in a disheartening minefield of the grant applications, what would be helpful would be a scheme where say you send an idea to the F.A. and they come look at your proposed building and say yes we can do that and help the project get on its feet, without the stress of this grant only does this and this ones for that and ooh sorry you need to have this to get that nightmare us grass roots guys just want decent facilities to play on and not grotty playing fields fit for cows to graze only, sick of calling off matches due to waterlogged pitches that dont belong to the club makes grassroots football a hard concept :- come on F.A these are your players of the future!!!

  5. Lorraine on December 4, 2011 at 12:13 am

    One of the priorities over the next four years was ‘Raising standards of player and spectator behaviour via the Respect programme’. This should definitely be expanded to include coaches/managers as I have seen a lot of very negative comments and swearing within kids football. This is not acceptable as it is a type of bullying and is damaging for the kids. We cant complain as our kids will be picked on. There is win at all cost mentality within Managers and it’s damaging for kids footballing development.

  6. Nobby - Parkhouse FC on December 5, 2011 at 11:28 pm

    As the secretary of a FA Charter Standard Adult Club I’m concerned about the escalating costs that a football club at grassroots level are expected to meet and how funding applications are a pipedream. Discipline is clearly a fundamental necessity but I agree with an earlier posted comment that cards are too readily shown and on occasion are used as a reminder of the power of the official not the reality of the offence.
    In an electronic world we could also eliminate the costly league handbooks that are outdated before they go to print, postal costs and unecessary fines imposed for administration errors.

    I welcome a leading FA representative to taste life at level 7 with me at my club and see how we struggle to survive and what their answer is to my plight.

  7. Darren Whitfield on December 6, 2011 at 1:28 am

    I applaud the F.A. for injecting a further £200 million into grassroots football, but for me, it is still no where near enough, Football is supposed to be a sport for all, regardless of age, ability etc. But without financial support this is near impossible to achieve, What about those live in rural or deprived areas, who supports these teams/clubs with initial set up costs and can offer guidance. I’m estimating on the initial set up cost of a team/club. Qualified coach £120, club child walfare officer £20, Safeguarding £20, crb check £15 per coach, (Yes we defiantly do need to have these things in place to ensure that our children are in a safe environment) but as everything seems to be down to costs. strip £200+, Training equipment £200+, pitch hire £300-£400 per season. winter training venue hire £25-£60 per hour x 15 – 20 weeks, affiliation fees, league fees, insurance etc. The list grows. So Is football really for all ? Unless more finance can be made available and injected directly into grassroots football many children are and will continue to miss out on opportunities now and in the future.

  8. Nicky Burgoyne on December 6, 2011 at 11:47 pm

    I was also concerned that the priority of ‘Raising standards of player and spectator behaviour via the Respect programme’ did not include raising the standards of the coaches/managers within kids football, many of whom still have a win at all costs mentality. The coach/manager has a vital role in mini/youth soccer and has a responsibility to develop and encourage ALL the children in his/her squad. If children are regularly not picked to play or constantly subbed their self esteem and confidence is badly damaged . Sadly, all too often it is the coach/manager who is agressively pursuing their team’s league success at the expense of individual children in their squad, which in turn causes those children to become disillusioned with the game before they reach double figures.

  9. John on December 8, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    The report says that more boys are playing football. I doubt that. There may be more playing for clubs, but walk past many parks of a weekend and you are much less likely to to see kids playing independently. OK, that is not an FA issue, but the focus on clubs (whether it is football, tennis or whatever) ignores the free play side of sport beloved of many who don’t join clubs … and it is also where the good players really hone their skills too.

  10. Kieran Costello on September 9, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    Would love to see the FA actually act upon their ‘promise’ of grass roots football . For 3 years not club has had to endure constant promises and unfullfilled acts to ensure our pitches be available to play upon

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