FA launches new initiative to tackle youth dropout

The Football Association has announced a new initiative aimed at tackling the dropout of 14 - 17 year-olds from football in England.

According to research commissioned by the FA and partner Vauxhall Motors, the main reasons for players leaving the game included a realisation that they were not going to play professional football, club football becoming more competitive and the lure of other pursuits.

External pressures including school work, travel arrangements and part-time jobs were also cited as reasons.

The FA and Vauxhall 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 Coaches.

As part of the The FA Vauxhall Youth Programme, 14-17 year-olds will be able to sign up for a 10-week block of sessions which will cater for every ability and fitness level. It is hoped that these sessions will inspire teenagers to get back into affiliated football in either small-sided or 11 v 11 formats.

Vauxhall Managing Director, Duncan Aldred, said: “We are very excited to talk about our plans for youth football moving forwards and tackling the issues we are currently facing with youth participation.

“From the beginning of our sponsorship, we have been committed to supporting football from the grassroots game all the way through to the national senior teams, and it is vitally important for the future of the game in England that we address the significant drop out rates in this age group.”

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.”

The FA and Vauxhall will appoint eight full-time specialist coaches to run up to 40 sessions per week across England for both boys and girls. 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.

FA Senior National Game Development Manager, Peter Ackerley added: “The FA is working closely with its Youth Partner Vauxhall alongside Sport England to understand the issues around the significant drop off in football at this age and ensure that we address this with the appropriate football offering tailored to engage the youth audience.

“This is about looking at what our young players are telling us and providing them with options to overcome the highlighted barriers, helping transition them into creating a football habit for life.”

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