Genesis Sports take a look at why small-sided football participation is on the up and up [Advertorial]
The number of people playing football in England is on the rise with nearly one in five adults – 8.2 million people – now participating in the national game in some form.
As the home for PUMA teamwear, this is something that hasn’t gone unnoticed with us. We have reported a major increase over the last couple of years in small-sided kit purchases and with a much broader user base – from small-sided indoor teams and with youth football teams.
Genesis Sports recently started to package together kit offers to make it easier and more attractive for small-sided teams. And with small-sided football teams very much in mind, we have come up with a number of offers aimed at 5-, 7- and 9-a-side teams, with full kit prices from as little as £139.
So we are taking a look at the facts surrounding why and where the increased participation comes from and it is small-sided football such as 5-a-side, 6-a-side through to 9-a-side where the increases are coming from generally.
Girls’ and women’s football
As the FA reported in their recent survey, female players led to a 100,000 boost in participation across 14-25 year olds. And with the recent success of the England women’s football team, these numbers are set to increase further as the FA has raised the age limit for female youth players now being allowed to participate in mixed football up to under-18s.
Added to that, the FA this month launched Girls’ Football Week to encourage schools, colleges and universities to run female-specific football coaching sessions.
And at grassroots level, clubs are increasingly engaging local schools to boost the number of girls participating in small-sided football, both with an increasing number of girls-only teams and through wider mixed participation with boys up to under-18s level.
Let’s face it, the majority of our grass/outdoor pitches in the UK aren’t great, are they? They’re often neglected, poorly maintained and adversely affected by unpredictable weather and a shortage of quality playing fields. Yet the emergence of improved 3G astroturf pitches is slowly trickling into grassroots football with an increasing number of local facilities through schools, sports clubs and organisations helping to boost participation numbers.
In parallel with the emergence of 3G outdoor surfaces, the likes of Powerleague now boast over 60 soccer centres across the UK with indoor 5-a-side pitches. A trip to one of these at a weekend or midweek evening will see up to 20 pitches fully booked during peak hours. And with the emergence of other centres and local leagues, this increase is set to continue.
Gone are the days when the amateur footballer hangs up his or her boots at 30-35 years old. With the increasing number of midweek and evening leagues, numbers have been boosted with veterans’ leagues and the emergence of walking football.
While Sport England state that barriers still remain for access to sport for disabled participants, their most recent figures show that, while disability sports participation had declined slightly overall, football participation was actually up. And funding clearly helps too, with a further £8m per year being provided to boost participation levels across sports generally.
So overall, despite some negativity surrounding the state of our game at grassroots level – it seems clear that the numbers of players and teams, particularly with regard to small sided football, are set to continue to increase.
And to check out the latest small sided PUMA kits, why not visit Genesis Sports today?