This project will be researching many different areas of football. I will begin at the grassroots level, which is primary school, local and junior leagues progressing through county, club and country. The areas included will be funding, incentive schemes, provision for different abilities etc. The local provision of football around my area with the help from my own experiences locally will be compared to the National set-up. Though they are two separate topics they will link together.
Review of Literature
In my local area there is large amounts of youth leagues ranging from under 8’s competitions upward, the grassroots football. The Kent messenger (KM) newspaper shows the variety of league and cup competition. Youth football in my area ranges from Maidstone Minor Leagues to the Kent League, North, Central and South. The KM and another resource, The Downswood Mail always have advertisements for players to join clubs, or managers that are needed for youth football.
The Football Association (FA) consists of the professional and amateur game, with different branches off of it, for example, Kent Football Association. The FA gives you details about coaching schemes and initiatives available to young footballers hoping to progress in the game. The FA also gives details of semi-pro clubs like my club Lordswood who play in the Kent League up to the main, elite premiership clubs. These clubs are local and National clubs to me. Football is getting bigger all the time; a lot of money is pumped through this sport, one example is the ï¿½45 million pounds the FA is giving to grassroots facilities. Though a lot of this money is given and accumulated by the top clubs. Coaching courses are available around my area, such as Andy Ford’s Soccer School, also larger clubs issue advertisements for when they bring coaches to your area, e.g. Manchester United Coaching Course came to Maidstone, my area, three to four years ago. The Kent County Councils football section shows details of coaching courses available in Kent. SportsAid allocates awards usually between ï¿½250 and ï¿½500 to young sportspeople aged from approximately 12 -18 years (junior competitors) who have competed with distinction within their respective age group and achieved. This helps to promote sporting excellence and it gives them a better chance of succeeding.
Locally there is the Sports and Play Team, which helps in many ways the progress of football in Maidstone. The Sports and Play team will be setting up ‘Football in the Community’ with local professional and amateur football clubs in order to create more opportunities for young people to engage in positive activity after school and to develop the clubs. The Sports and Play Team are one of the partners in the ‘Active Sports’ programme and are keen to work with local clubs. ‘Voluntary Club Facility Hire Grant’ helps to provide the facilities needed to run training sessions and to have a good quality pitch for match days, ranging form hundreds to thousands of pounds and this scheme was also set up by the Sports and Play team. Gillingham Football Club, local pro team, runs many after school and holiday training camps with opportunities for the younger players to help their schools out. The players can win competitions for equipment and small grants for sport in their school.
Football as a whole is a growing enterprise in England and around the world. TV money and worldwide football stars show a lot of money is in and around the sport.
Local football around my area uses a lot of recreational ground and schools playing fields, so facilities for players are limited. More money needs to be spent on proper catering specifically for football. ï¿½45 million pounds from the FA is going to be invested in pitches and facilities over the next three years from the National Game Scheme. This does help, but it is not enough for national improvement in this sport. Local amateur football gives a good impression of football nationally; this means that more input in the sport is needed. More progress is being made with issues inside football than with actual provisions for the sport. Schemes such as Fair Play, Eliminating Racism From Football and Child Protection Best Practice do not help with local and national provision. These issues should be addressed but equally with factors like facilities and pitches. Maidstone runs a Youth Sport Action Group developing football with the help of coaches, teachers and members of the community. They organise Youth Sport Achievement Awards and the Sports Fair.
The FA seems to be the main contributor to grassroots all the way up to the national game. More money is needed for County Councils, such as my local county, Kent. I suggest that schemes to improve facilities for amateur clubs are needed to help bridge the gap between amateur and professional clubs because the breach is currently massive. Money will improve players’ capabilities because of the enhanced equipment, providing the top clubs with better quality players and the players with a better chance of reaching the top clubs. The more money the FA gives to councils and the Government, the more football will prosper and generate money. If local and national grassroots football improves, more money will be generated by itself, which then takes off all the pressure from the Government and the FA in the future.
There are lots of ways in which the study could be improved. Without a comprehensive study of another Borough or County its hard to tell if my local area equates in a similar way to another. Many figures that I have found only say what money is going to be put in; it would help to find where the money has been spent so far. Many coaching schemes and building enterprises are organised but the popularity and success is not always shown. My area really only has one professional club, Gillingham, regions in and around London for example will have many clubs reasonably close. This means my area is disadvantaged but I would like to find out whether these major clubs to make a big difference to local and national provision.
Four4Two magazine (December and January)
The Official Manchester Untied Magazine