Bring on the next generation of Harry Kanes or Steph Houghtons
The Football Association highlights the power of sport to unite and its ability to bring communities together, ahead of their debate on Monday 1st October at 8.30am in the London Lounge at Conservative Party Conference.
We all know the power of sport to unite and its ability to bring communities together. From The FA’s perspective, this past summer was a great example of that, with the unity across the country - inspired by Gareth Southgate and the England team at the FIFA World Cup in Russia.
At The FA, we are a not-for-profit organisation, responsible for governing and running all aspects of football. Our remit is significant and wide-ranging.
It includes developing the game at community level including, for example, community clubs, coaching, refereeing and youth football.
Our remit also includes running the 24 England senior, developments and disability teams at St. George’s Park and running and increasing the participation levels of women’s and girls’ football at all levels.
We are also responsible for implementing and enforcing the rules and regulations of the game.
The FA works to ensure as much income as possible is generated and put back into the grassroots game. At present, this is now running at £180m every year (a 46% increase on 2017) with a large proportion of that now being directed to facility investment.
This is extremely important as we can only begin to develop the best possible footballing talent for our national teams if there are excellent facilities across the country for girls, boys, men and women – from grassroots all the way through to elite.
But the challenges facing The FA are significant. Indeed, 1 in 3 pitches are now deemed inadequate and 1 in 6 six matches were postponed this year due to poor playing surfaces. To illustrate the impact of all of this, 150,000 matches, or 300,000 teams have now been affected by subpar pitches or facilities. It is therefore unsurprising this is now the number one issue which is raised in our FA Grassroots Survey year on year.
But we need more than just good facilities, we also need quality coaches, proper safeguards and an even bigger focus on girls and women’s football so we can reach our ambitious target of doubling female participation by 2020.
To that end, we are investing: £13m in coaching and participation, £17m to our County FAs across the country for the delivery of community football, £4m to grow disability football and ensure measures and control for equality and child protection £20m for community football facilities and an extra £5m for women's football development (taking our total spend in women's football to £13m)
These investments sound large - but so is our audience. There are now 11 million players of all ages, including 2,480,000 women and girls, and nearly 90,000 teams. To give these numbers context, disability football alone is now the seventh largest team sport in England.
We’re on the right path but we know that there is much more to do to make sure that football is ‘For All’.
Join us on Monday for our fringe event which promises to be a lively discussion on this key issue.
The FA Fringe debate taking place on Monday 1st October at 8.30am in the London Lounge at Conservative Party Conference.