Third edition of National Game Strategy outlines plans for the grassroots game for 2015-2019
The Football Association has outlined plans for a record £260m investment in grassroots football over the next four years.
The third edition of the National Game Strategy, which was first launched in 2008, details the FA's plans for boosting participation and developing the grassroots game from 2015 to 2019, with a focus on facilities and coaching.
Speaking at the launch of the strategy, FA chief executive Martin Glenn said: “There are challenges facing grassroots football both in terms of facilities and coaching. Today we have set out how we will tackle the challenges head-on.
"We have identified four key areas in which we have committed to investing £260 million over the next four years – facilities, coaching, participation and developing the football workforce. Our goals are ambitious, but achievable.”
The new record £260m investment - which includes £48m of Football Foundation funding - will be supplemented by a further multi-million pound investment in grassroots football facilities, which will see the creation of new football 'hubs' across 30 cities in England, supported by government investment and with the Premier League expected to follow suit.
Kelly Simmons, the FA's director for participation and development, said: “It is no secret that facilities need to get better – today we set out clearly and unequivocally how we can make that happen – not only through the creation of city hubs, but also investing in improving what already exists.
"Our relationship with the Premier League and DCMS through our commitment to the Football Foundation is key to achieving this."
Since the launch of the strategy the number of men's 11-a-side teams has fallen rapidly from 32,000 to less than 28,000 - something that the FA hopes the new strategy will counter by offering more varied formats of the game.
Whilst the traditional men's game is in decline, the number of women and girls playing football is up by over 40,000 in the last two years, something the FA will hope to build on by harnessing the success of the England team at the Women's World Cup, whilst continuing the growth in boys' football and disability football.
The FA will invest £4m per year in grassroots coaching over the next four years - including £2m per year from the government - in a bid to further elevate both the number and quality of coaches at grassroots level, whilst the strategy also aims to improve the quality of play available to everyone involved in the grassroots game.
Simmons added: “Having recognised the benefits of achieving Charter Standard status, 85 per cent of youth teams in England now have a qualified coach, which accounts for nearly one million under-16s benefiting from such access. Alongside that we have seen the growth of youth football by 5,000 new teams since 2011.
"We have come a long way in youth football and it is a similar story in women’s and disability football. We know that 40,000 more girls and women are playing football regularly in the past two years and this is without the increased profile the England women’s team have brought to the sport.”
Club Website will take a more detailed look at the new National Game Strategy in August's edition of The Clubhouse - our monthly newsletter - so make sure you're signed up. In the meantime, here is a quick summary of what the strategy covers.
The FA wants the new strategy to make an impact in four key areas:
Boosting Participation: Building on the increases in boys and girls participation and growth in disability football, while delivering more varied formats of the game to address the drop in traditional 11v11 weekend football among adult males.
Developing better players: £4million per year will be invested in grassroots coaching. There will be a network of County Coaches – tasked with improving and supporting coaching across grassroots football with club mentoring programmes. The extension of coach bursaries will get more women and people from diverse backgrounds into the profession and there will be a drive to get more top level grassroots coaches into the game.
Better training and facilities: The FA is committing £48million to improving facilities directly through its funding of the Football Foundation as well as investment in 100 new turf pitches and improvements to a further 2,000 as part of The FA’s Pitch Improvement Plan. Further funds have also been dedicated to building 30 new football hubs across key cities – with a pilot scheme already under way in Sheffield – with the Government committed to matching The FA’s contribution.
Football workforce: Football will become more representative of the communities it serves through inclusion initiatives. The FA is also rolling out technology to run the game more efficiently and create direct lines of communication with players across all grassroots leagues making football truly integrated.