Partnership with colleges and universities will create more grassroots teams and boost participation
Over 70,000 grassroots footballers will benefit this year from an extended Football Association project involving 170 further and higher education establishments.
250 grassroots teams will also be created as a result of the partnership with two educational bodies - British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) and Association for Colleges (AoC Sport) - which will establish opportunities for 3,140 students to get into football as volunteers, administrators, coaches or referees.
The FA Football Hubs model aims to increase accessibility to playing facilities owned by colleges and educational establishments by encouraging them to forge partnerships with the local grassroots football community, thereby creating more opportunities to play and boosting participation.
FA Director of Participation and Development Kelly Simmons MBE once captained the University of Warwick women’s football team and now she hopes the move will give more students the potential to follow her pathway into the sport.
"Further and Higher Education institutions play a key role in supporting the FA, getting as many boys and girls as possible into football," said Simmons.
"FA College and University Football Hubs create an environment that enables players to develop, creating lots of flexible playing opportunities to access football, whilst providing access to high quality facilities."
Pete Ackerley, the FA’s Head of Participation, said: "We have set the ambitious target of doubling the numbers of female grassroots players in the game and working in partnership with our further and higher education colleagues will contribute significantly towards us achieving this.
"We also want to develop a network of highly motivated, qualified student coaches who will serve as a welcome boost to the football workforce."
The project receives investment from Sport England, whose Whole Sport Plan supports national governing bodies in implementing of sports participation projects.
Mike Diaper, Sport England's Executive Director for Community Sport, said: "The model encourages universities to work with their local communities, bringing students and staff closer to the people around them. Its foundations are firmly rooted in collaborative working between schools, colleges, universities and community clubs - these partnerships that have enabled University Community Football Hubs to have such a positive impact."