Sky Sports focus on grassroots football – get involved!

Sky Sports News are placing a focus on grassroots football and they’ve called on Club Website members to get involved.

They want to hear from our members in the UK and Ireland on the state of grassroots game in their local area, with a focus on participation in 11-a-side football.

Do you still play the 11-a-side game, or are you among the thousands of people to have given it up in recent years? Either way, Sky Sports News want to hear from you – and so do Club Website!

FA figures show that over 2,000 11-a-side teams have folded since 2011, so why have participation levels been hit? If you’ve given up playing football in recent years, why is that the case?

And what have local clubs and leagues been doing to encourage people to play the game? If you’re not involved in the grassroots game, what would make you get involved?

Grassroots football – have your say!

There are two ways to join the debate and have your say on grassroots football:

1. Visit and complete the survey – just 10 quick questions!

2. Tell us your grassroots football stories using the comments section below. Anything on participation in football and the state of the grassroots game in your area.

Both positive and negative stories are welcome – your experience of things that might either encourage or discourage people to play at grassroots level. Anything from poor facilities and bad behaviour to community schemes or initiatives to get people playing – we’d love to hear from you.

Sky Sports News are looking for clubs or leagues to take part in a series of features in the coming weeks. Your feedback will be monitored and Sky Sports News could be in touch with you.

So please complete the survey and give us your stories – It’s good to debate the big issues in grassroots football but we can’t do that without you, so let’s get to the root of the problem.

Dan Pope on LinkedinDan Pope on Twitter
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. Mark Lockyear on February 27, 2014 at 10:27 pm

    The simple reason for the reduction in teams is due to The FA’s limited understanding of the problems grassroots clubs face, especially the increasing costs to use better facilities at local leisure centres and sports villages. Too much emphasis is placed on increasing participation by increasing the number of teams at the expense of existing teams who are unable to access funding to cover their existing, ever-spiralling costs. This is very prevalent in girls and women’s football.

  2. R Hughes-Pickering on February 28, 2014 at 11:14 am

    I’m involved organising a Junior football League in Wales. The U11 section seems quite stable. The older age groups is more volatile as FAW rules restrict the age groups that can play together and in a rural area, where there are relative small numbers of players, it makes it difficult to get a squad together to sustin teams.

    We did find a solution whereby we introduced an U13, U15 and U17 league structure. This meant two age groups mixing and numbers went up to around 800-850 players in the Junior League. Unfortunately the FAW wouldnt
    permit agree to this continuing as the U17 age fell foul of the rules by mixing children (15yr olds) with ‘youth/adults’ (16yr olds). Numbers have declined since and its becoming difficult to sustain leagues.

    More flexibility to adapt rules to circumstances in different areas would be helpful.

  3. Mark Oliver on February 28, 2014 at 11:34 am

    One of the biggest problems is the poor condition of most pitches and the type of football that it produces.
    At grassroots level, most matches should be played on 3G surfaces and preferably under cover to enable young players to play the game the way it should be played. Most Academies have a number of 3G pitches. How can we expect our youngest players to play football unless we give them a surface to play on.
    Every primary school and secondary school should have their own 3G pitch too which the community can access.
    But this will require a huge investment in grassroot facilities.

  4. martyn cocking on March 2, 2014 at 7:42 pm

    the problem of trying to improve facilities as took the game away from the working mans pocket and seeing professionals getting exaggerated wages does not help the people who spend years volunteering there time for free

  5. dave on March 3, 2014 at 9:05 pm

    hello ,I am a general secretary of youth football in Birmingham,in 2013/2014 season we had 7 youth teams , our ground rental for 3 pitches for sunday league is £800 per pitch (£2,400) per season. Our league CYYFL told us at the last league meeting that Birmingham City Council want to charge grass roots football £3400 per pitch starting in 2019 . This means we will have to find £10,200 before we kick a ball. Walsall council may start charging this amount next season .With all the sponsorship money that the Premier league gets ,why don’t they pay for all the grass roots football pitches which to them would be a pittance.Grass roots clubs then have to get sponsorship for kits , training balls , match balls, corner flags , goal nets. all this approx £500 per team . 7 teams £3,500 per season. Most of the kids we are dealing with are from inner city Birmingham where money is tight. So what do you say to the kid who,s parents can,t afford their kids subs for the sunday match or the training sesson .(sorry you can’t play go and hang about on the streets ) some of these kids can’t even afford to buy a pair of football boots , we give them re-cycled boots .Then there is the league , make a tiny mistake on the match report form £20 fine , miss a phone call £20 fine report sheet in late £20 fine , they say we can alter it but if we do that the registration fees may go up, Present league fees £85 per team 7 teams £595 last season . why do we pay affiliation fees to the county FA for grass roots football . there is no trickle down of any money to grass roots football.There is supposed to billions of pounds in TV sponsorship going to the premier league but as you can see grass roots clubs are struggling to survive and as you can see it is only going to get worse,

  6. Matt on March 9, 2014 at 7:50 pm

    Facilities are nil in my area as the council are building on every bit of green space they can find. We are then forced to use schools who charge ridiculous fees but for me, the poor quality of referees is a major factor in what’s wrong. Too many want to be the centre of attention and have no idea of how to control a game.

  7. Steven Lockhart on March 9, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    local councils should invest more money into local communites and encourage kids to play football and keep them off the streets.

  8. Peter Edmondson on March 9, 2014 at 8:44 pm

    I’m a volunteer groundsman and sit on a playing field committee. I agree with almost all the points above. One difference tho’ is in regards of cost, you can hire our pitch for £25.00 per game for youth games and £40.00 for adults. A few years ago we had 5 home teams sharing the facility 3 of which were youth and 1 of the 3 was a girls team. these days we have 2 and 1 of those no longer fields a Saturday team. We have respectable changing and showering facilities (6 years old) and a well draining pitch but no-one to play on it. I would say that right now it has about 80/85 % grass coverage. I think people have got fed up with football and in particular the foul language of its participants. Leagues and in particular youth leagues seem to promote young refs well beyond their abilities and these refs are often loathe or even unaware of any need to stamp down on bad language. As a result of this many matches deteriorate into slanging matches and orchestrated character assassination.

    Regrettably I’ve had enough of football, if we had a further half acre or so I would recommend to our committee that we mark it out for rugby.

    Pete Edmondson
    Butleigh Playing Fields Association

  9. Mick on March 10, 2014 at 10:06 am

    My solution to this is simple, build a large playing facility in each good size town and city which houses changing rooms, bar, cafe, function rooms etc. have indoor pitches and outdoor pitches with floodlights, pitches should be of all sizes 5v5 7v7 9v9 & 11v11. Also a 4g pitch. Then this facility should be used by all local teams in that town and it gives a centralised location for everyone to get involved in football from toddlers to old age. Everything would be easier to organise, fundraise and hold events to. At the minute there are loads of clubs doing there own thing and it’s disorganised and poorly managed. Pulling it altogether would benefit everyone

  10. Mick on March 10, 2014 at 10:11 am

    Further to my previous comment I would also place an extra tax on the professional game and it’s players wages. If just 2% was taken to put into local grassroots it would make a massive difference. Say your prof club be it Newcastle, burley or whoever put that money back into their communities the difference would be massive. Prem clubs could pay 1% extra to go to a sub fund to support smaller clubs towns so all the money does not just stay in prem club locations

  11. Daren Bavister on March 11, 2014 at 5:55 pm

    I am involved in the future of our club and consider myself to be a breath of fresh air in my approach, sadly I have found this isn’t the case everywhere with old school attitudes harping back to 70’s & 80’s style coaching… loud and brash and this doesn’t translate well in front of youngsters and the young referees. All I can do is continue to approach the game and coaching in a fashion that I feel is right, bettering myself through development and promoting the same to the newer coaches helping me. Facilities and the costs associated with it also pay a very big part, we can’t change the English weather but better and more affordable hire charges for 3G facilities wouldn’t hurt one bit.

  12. Mark Watts Coach on March 11, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    Learning basic skills and playing the passing game is imperative from 7-16. We need to concentrate as a country on technique in the youth game like Holland and Spain. We are currently poles apart in the national game and need to invest heavily in coaches at grass roots to ensure a consistent standard is achieved. I do not think a level 1 coaching badge is enough to ensure kids are given the right coaching. I hear coaches and parents praising a 40 yard clearance in to the touch line some Sundays. invest in coaching, change the ethic and change the way we play the game through the ranks

  13. Wayne on March 16, 2014 at 11:50 am

    Local FA in my area is far more interested in making a tidy profit rather than assist clubs who are struggling. I like many others try to run a club that has 2 Saturday men’s teams and a Sunday team almost single handedly. Finances for clubhouse, referees, kit, FA fees, pitch hire etc all comes out of my pocket and not sure how long I can continue to do that. If I do decide enough is enough then I know that will be the end for another local club in Leicestershire that has years of history! There is absolutely no assistance from the FA and indeed not a care in the Worls that at least 10 trams a year in our area goes to the wall. They’re too busy counting their money! On top of that very poor standard of refereeing normally results in numerous cards, club fines, player fines etc that all goes to – you guessed it – the local FA! The rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer and unfortunately I just don’t see it changing. The heartbeat of football – grassroots – is sadly dying.

  14. Trevor Lawrence on March 16, 2014 at 9:43 pm

    The cost of young football . I run 2 team and it seems to be all about money, everything has got a cost to it, small clubs don’t get funding unless you are an academy, what happened to it been a fun game to play and so the children enjoyed it. You can’t even play a game of football with out their been a cost to it. Football for young children should be FREE, it’s only going to get worse when I have to pay grounds rent on a pitch. Even the amount of course that have to be sat is getting beyond a joke. I understand that coaches have to bee crb checked and the children have to be safe but the cost of all these courses is ridicules.

  15. Paul French on May 24, 2014 at 8:32 pm

    How to make kids loose interest!! My step son plays for our local team “Abbey Rangers”in the under 15’s. He has played for them for 7 years and in the last 3 seasons has had great success winning the league and gaining promotion for the last two seasons. However this season after a slow start and consecutive losses they dug in and found their form and went on a massive winning streak and their hard work at training was paying off. With 5 games remaining of this season we had a match abandoned due to a very poor referee performance that ended up at an fa hearing and our manager was cleared and not guilty of the referees complaint. So now at the seasons end the fa have not awarded a rematch or any points, this may not be the end of the world you think but!!!….. We are joint top whilst playing one less game than our joint leaders, we have won more games and have a far superior goal difference but because they beat us at the start of the season they will win the league! How is this fair I keep asking myself? The league have failed to make a decission and now it looks like we will miss out due to their inability to rule on the replay and all local pitches are closed so we have no pitch even if awarded the replay due to them dragging their heels for 6 weeks. What is the genral ruling on this? If we receive the replay and even get a draw we win the leauge and promotion. After all the hard work from the players and manager, they deserve to win the titlle or even be worthy of a decission from the league. And people wonder why kids give up so easliy on their football and revert back to the games console. We just want to play the match and for the boys to finish on a high not on a low and not turn up for pre season beacuse “whats the point now” as one of the boys said!! We have a great team that play great entertaining, football lets keep it that way.

  16. Joe Doyle on August 4, 2014 at 1:08 am

    The fa is a shame they should really consider a new system or thats the end of grassroots and crime shoots up

  17. Adeel on October 29, 2014 at 11:53 am

    hi i think they is lack of funds in sunday league football when you want to help the local community and keep children of the streets you tend to get no support from the birmingham fa

  18. Andy Cox on November 8, 2015 at 11:58 am

    Sky could do a lot more to help grass roots football by reducing the cost of installing their equipment & packages in clubhouses.

    It would help them all raise much needed funding by increasing footfall etc.

    The current price range is not commercially viable for a lot of clubs.

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