The launch of the National Game Division of the F.A in 2000, according to the head of the campaign, was the biggest news for grass-roots football since the formation of the F.A itself, 130 years odd before that. The man who heads the campaign is Steve Parkin. He explains that the National Game covers all football below the Football League: from the conference to the parks. The National Game Division of the F.A. may not be the association but, with 40 staff, and a serious budget to spend on footballs grass-roots, it is now the largest and one of the most important, according to the F.A. Thus, the NGD is channelling over 30 a year into the game’s grass-roots, with the prospect of a new dawn, heralding higher standards and better pitches, changing-rooms and facilities for clubs across the UK. The F.A is and has been investing ï¿½6m over three years to provide all primary and special schools with football equipment, teacher and training resources.
The F.A has England Disabled teams as well. The local football club, Fulham FC have set up a team for deaf people, Fulham Deaf FC. From playing locally you could play for the national squad, Great Britain Deaf football team. This is under the auspices of the British Deaf Sports Council (B.D.S.C.), who in turn, are affiliated to the world’s elite sports body, the Committee International des Sports des Sourds (C.I.S.S.). When I got in touch with The F.A, one of the most important things they stated was that they believed in the philosophy ‘football for all’, and they backed this statement up. Thus, the F.A now supports six different kinds of disability: made up, respectively, of players who are blind, partially sighted, deaf, amputees or has cerebral palsy or learning disabilities. The teams all receive official kits, a physiotherapist, fully-trained technical advisor, and funds towards travel costs for attending abroad championships.
The strength of football at the grass-roots level and the enjoyment of the game for players depends to a great extent on the quality and quantity of pitches and other facilities such as changing rooms. The F.A is trying to develop a national facility investment program to improve current and create new football facilities which will attract people of all ages to play football. According to the F.A, the key initiatives underway in this campaign are F.A. funding; the F.A. will invest 45m via the football foundation into facility improvement projects over the two years, register of English football facilities; a national survey of all football facilities in England was done last year. The results haven’t been processed at this current time.
Local Football County Partnerships; county-bases forums have been set-up, led by county F.A’s, such as the London F.A, to bring together football and other partners to create and prioritise football facilities and development plans in their area. As well as maximising football opportunities for all, the F.A also encourage, promote, and nurture the talented players of the future. The best young players have to be given every opportunity to fulfil their talent and potential. This is why these elite players are sent to Centres of Excellence. As part of the charter for quality, all premier league clubs must have academies and all football league clubs must have centre of excellence. The F.A also ensures that the young players get quality coaching and coaching.
Another thing the F.A does is women’s football. I found out from the F.A’s women’s football department that there are now approximately 90,000 registered women and girls playing football. This large amount is due to the F.As Active Sports Kick Start programmes being run across the country. Some county F.A’s, such as the London F.A, have been working with their sports partnerships to implement the Active Sports initiative. This course begins coaching the girls until they are ready to join local clubs, if they have local women’s football teams of course. As I have found from my research, not all areas have local women’s football teams.
I also found out from the NGD that the F.A’s National Game Division is investing ï¿½350m over the next 10 years into grass-roots football and nationally, 4.5m over three years is going towards making ‘mini-soccer’ the number 1 youth sport in the country. A significant part of this money is being spent on developing women’s football in England at all levels. However, there is still only one professional women’s football team in this country which is Fulham F.C. There are some other teams which are semi-professional teams such as Arsenal F.C but not professional.
Overall, I think that Hammersmith and Fulham have adequate facilities for grass-roots football. There are plenty of parks e.g. Acton Park, Wormolt Park and Ravenscourt Park where people can learn to play football at the lowest level, whether it is competitive situation just for a ‘kick about’. There are also places where there are outdoor facilities, such as Astroturf. But there are no indoor facilities to play football.
There are plenty of local football clubs, such as Acton Ealing Whistlers, but with only one main league, Harrow League, where people can sign up to play competitive football. There are also two local football academies, Queens Park Rangers FC and Fulham FC; these are the local professional teams. Another positive about the borough is that there is the only women’s professional team in the country, Fulham FC.
I think that the way the F.A. is run is brilliant for football. The way it manages football in the country from grass-roots level to the elite performer is fair. This means that there are many doors open to you if you are good enough, as a youngster, at football, such as centres of Excellence and football academies run by the F.A. which gives youngsters the chance to progress to the next level, in the game.