Football Local and National Provision

In my project I am going talk about football provisions available for people of different ages and abilities both locally and nationally, schemes and initiatives that are being or have been introduced and also additional bodies and agencies within football that help with these provisions. I will end the project with a critical analysis of the provisions available and compare them with each other and also with the provisions available in other countries.

Grassroots Development Currently there are over 2 million people playing organised football regularly, The Football Association is determined to get the highest participation rates in the world and is investing millions into getting children into football while young by providing opportunities for them to play through new schemes and initiatives. The Football Association encourages children to get into football through three main ways; mini-soccer, schools and football club courses. Mini-soccer is a version of football for children between the ages of 7 and 10 years old played on a smaller pitch making it an excellent introduction into football, as all players are able to participate.

The Football Association has introduced two programmes to help develop football in school: F.A. Topsport and Charter Standard Schools, The aim of F.A. Topsport is to provide equipment, training and assistance to primary schools and special needs schools in the country over the next three years. The aim of The Charter Standard Schools programme is to give educational establishments access to a wide range of benefits, improving their football standards.

Most professional football clubs run football in the community schemes for children. My local club Chelsea FC run such courses for children of both sexes and all sorts of abilities up to the age of 15. This includes running holiday football camps and free coaching through schools. The Chelsea Community development program was started in 1992.Currently over 130,000 children attend these courses where the emphasis is on fun and participation. Information on these courses are available from the community officer at the local football club can get.

For all football at grassroots level volunteers are invaluable, they can be responsible for both coaching and administration. To increase the number of volunteers the Football Association launched the Football Workforce Programme in 2000. The aim of this is to create a skilled and well-supported volunteer workforce who are recognised and valued. Ex – F.A. Chief Executive Adam Crozier said of the scheme “Volunteers form the backbone of football in this country, and play a vital role in helping us meet our objectives of achieving the highest levels of participation in the world. The Football Workforce Programme will help guarantee volunteers are recruited, recognised and rewarded.”

The National Game Division is the department responsible for these new schemes, established in 2000 it is now considered one of the most important departments in the F.A. It aims to invest 45 million into facilities in the next 3 years, 6 million into sport in schools and �4.5 million into mini-soccer over the next 3 years to reverse decades of decline. (APPENDIX1 the first Director of the National Game Division Steve Parkin’s views on grassroots football)

Provision for/Pathways for elite performers The road to becoming a professional footballer can start at an early age. Children playing for a club or school first have to be scouted by a football club, they will then be given trials. If successful the child will either end up at a football academy or centre of excellence where the most talented players in the area are trained.

There are thirty-eight football academies in the country, they have the best facilities available and balance the amount of football with education up to A – Level standard for boys aged 16 years and over. Academies all have fully – qualified staff covering coaching, medical, development, education and welfare. Academies were established as a way of improving the country’s approach to producing young players. There are fifty-four Centre of Excellences in the country, they operate with strict guidelines regarding facilities, amount of football played, and access to qualified coaches, boys are at centre of excellences from the age of 9 – 16 when they can then join a Youth Training Scheme were they also incorporate education.

The focus on education in both academies and centres of excellences are there to help those boys that do not make it as professional footballers. For smaller sides like Fulham Football Club and Charlton see academies as a way forward to performing well in the league without having to spend millions on expensive foreign imports. Fulham Academy Director, Steve Kean, believes that the Academy is a facet of the Club that carries major significance. Fulham’s Academy has been operating for four years the most successful graduate from the academy so far has been Sean Davis who is an England under-21 international, his estimated transfer value is about six times more than the cost to run the whole Academy system for a year. The aim of the academy is to offer the Team Manager a regular stream of young players of great potential. (APPENDIX 2 shows the Fulham academy philosophy and structure in more detail.) Charlton also have a very good academy which is reflected in their first team, that has players such as Scott Parker, Charlie MacDonald, Paul Konchesky and Jon Fortune who have all come through the ranks.

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