The Beautiful Game, as it is known across the world, was first organised in England in the 1800s. It grew from its humble origins on the playing fields of English schools to becoming a global phenomenon! Have you guessed yet? Of course, I am talking about football. Throughout the 1800’s the rules of the game gradually emerged, the influence of public schools increased both participation and passion for the game.
As the game became more and more popular with both schoolboys and factory workers clubs began to form. During the industrial revolution roads and railways were built, which in turn helped to spread the game of football and in time not just nationally but overseas too. The international governing body for football is ‘The Fi?? di?? ration Internationale de Football Association’, mostly recognised as FIFA. Under FIFA are 204 national organisations, many grouped together to form organisations such as UEFA.
FIFA is committed by its statutes not only to the positive promotion of football through development programmes, but also to supervising international competitions and to safeguarding the sport and its good image against abuse of its rules and regulations. And FIFA sees to it that the game is played to one unified set of rules, the Laws of the Game, all over the world. One of UEFA’s responsibilities as a confederation of world football’s governing body FIFA is to organise and stage European competitions for clubs and national teams.
In total, 13 competitions are currently organised by UEFA, with nine for national representative teams and four for clubs. On a national level the governing body for England is the Football Association (F. A. ) Formed in 1863, the F. A. is the oldest football governing body in the world. Today, it exists to develop and promote the game to men and women, boys and girls, of any race or creed, throughout the country. The organisations mentioned are mainly for the elite performers who once started off at grass roots, playing in the streets, at school, local clubs and progressing on to town and county teams.
I live in Preston, North West of England, where football is a major part of many lives. Here people of all ages and both sexes spectate and participate in football. Preston City Council helps to promote the game within the community by organising events and leagues open for all ages, races, abilities etc. There are two leisure centres, many gyms and a lot of parks open to the public. For example West view and Fulwood leisure centre, which both hold football sessions for the public.
The local residents of Ashton, a small area in Preston, can use facilities provided by local Schools that are open in the evenings, for a small fee, e. g. Ashton-On-Ribble High school. Funded by Sport England (Lottery fund), Preston has one of the biggest and newest sports complex in the North West of England and is used by local clubs, schools and the general public. Children tend to be introduced and encouraged to play sport at a young age. From my experience, at primary school both boys and girls interact with one another and taught how to play team games like ‘mat football’ or rounders.
Unlike primary school, high schools seem to divide the boys and girls and teach them sports that ‘correspond to their gender’, boys would play rugby, football, basketball, cricket etc. and girls, netball, hockey, rounders and so on. (Later in the discussion this topic will be in more detail). Schools provide extra curricular activities for the children willing to be more competitive, leagues are set up within the local community between schools which in turn improve the childrens sporting ability.
In some P. E lessons qualified sports people visit schools to promote sport and inform children of the short and long term benefits, such people in my area are from Preston City Sports council. But these are only occasionally, some schools in Preston don’t provide very good physical education whereas the school I attended was brilliant. At Ashton High school I was able to compete at a high standard, due to the quality of the teaching and have great facilities at hand. Lancashire Football Association (L. F. A) put together leagues for men of all ages, from under 11’s to over 18’s.
The games usually take place on Sunday mornings on parks; the closest to me being Ashton Park, which is provided with, marked pitches, grass occasionally cut and football nets. Volunteers who in some cases have a qualification in coaching run these clubs, which are funded by weekly fees (subs) off the players and sponsorships from local businesses, like ‘Ashworth Pies’, all to pay for equipment, kit and pitches. Only small handfuls from these local clubs go onto represent their town team and the lucky ones Lancashire, their county.
Very few are selected for further development in the sport; those who show great potential and exceptional skill. Here in Preston young boys who have this talent are scouted by Preston North End School of Excellence who enhance their overall ‘footballing’ ability to maybe become future stars. These clubs are funded by the income of the actual Preston North End Football Club (PNE FC) team, they aim to develop young boys to become professional players, hopefully for the actual PNE FC team.
Those females who show a talent and interest in football gain support in ways of scholarships from colleges or schools. Women’s teams are becoming more popular due to the vast participation that colleges have to respond to by putting together football academies. Young children have the chance to take part in ‘mini soccer’. In Preston this is held weekly at Preston North End FC’s astroturf pitch. Small-sided competitions are held to encourage young players to have a taste of competitiveness at a young age and to socialise.
Quoted by Sir Alex Ferguson himself; “Playing in a small area with an adequate number of players does them far more good than practising on a full sided pitch. Their skill level will dramatically improve. ” Those players who aren’t spotted at an early age tend to progress by stages, from local clubs and sometimes through to a national level. The stages in between are shown below; Not all players follow these stages step by step, because not all players make it professionally or make it to national teams, all depending on their determination/ ability.