FA fixing grassroots problems

The Football Association's general secretary Alex Horne believes there are solutions to any barriers preventing people participating in 11-a-side local football.

Last Updated: 17/03/14 at 13:57 Post Comment

More than 2,500 people responded to Sky Sports News' survey enquiring about the difficulties in participating in the sport at a local level.

The result concluded that more than 65% of respondents said they did not think local councils did enough to support facilities and the costs of low-level football and 83.7% said the FA do not do enough to preserve the grassroots game.

However, Horne is adamant that despite local authorities being under pressure to cut their budgets, he insists they will address each authorities requirements in order to ensure the sport can be played in every local area.

"We're working with 17 county authorities and we're trying to work out where the pressure points are," Horne said.

"We know the pressure points are on local authorities, they are under pressure to cut their budgets so they are thinking about ways to save money and it's costing them money to keep grassroots pitches playing week in and week out.

"We also know that grassroots pitches only get you five or six hours of football a week and increasingly and we are seeing people being comfortable playing and training on artificial pitches.

"We know we only have about 600 decent quality artificial pitches in the country and while the football foundation are building 25 a year we think there is room for more artificial pitches out there."

Horne added that the FA are working with three local authorities on a pilot basis by addressing their individual issues.

But he admitted that with the goodwill the local authorities are showing for this problem and the importance they place in sport the right level of facilities for all can be delivered.

"The important thing is that carefully we are working with three local authorities on a pilot basis to find out what the best answer is," Horne said.

"It's a locally owned solution talking to local authorities, clubs and local schools and asking them how many pitches do you need, where and how many grass and artificial pitches do you need and trying to come up with a solution which is different to what we have now.

"This will be different for every local authority but we believe there is a solution for every local authority that sees pitches in new ownership, a new mix of pitches both artificial and grass so that we can deliver the right level of facilities across the country for people to continue to play football.

"That is going to take a lot of time and goodwill but we're getting that goodwill, yes local authorities are under pressure, but they also recognise how important sport is local communities."

FULL RESULTS OF THE SKY SPORTS NEWS SURVEY

1: How often have you played 11-a-side football in the last six months?

Once a week - 42.1 %
Once a month - 7.7%
Not consistently (now and then) - 16.9%
I don't play anymore - 33.3%

2. What prevents you playing 11-a-side football every week?

Time demands - 20%
Cost - 10.1%
Poor facilities / pitches - 33.4%
Other form of game (eg 5/7 a side) - 11.3%
N/A I play regularly - 25.2%

3.What is the biggest problem facing the future of the grassroots game?

State of facilities/pitches - 44.3%
Cost - 22.1%
Anti-social behaviour - 12.8%
Lack or standard of match officials - 10.1%
Other - 10.7%

4.What would entice you back into playing regular 11-a-side football?

Cheaper fees - 15.2%
Better facilities/pitches - 36.8%
Better match officials - 7%
Different form of game (shorter games, evening leagues, roll in roll on subs) - 13.3%
N/A I still play - 27.7%

5.How do you rate the football facilities in your area?

Excellent - 3.3%
Good - 17.3%
Average - 33.7%
Poor - 29.4%
Very Poor - 16.3%

6.Your local council does enough to maintain pitches/facilities

Strongly agree - 2.9%
Agree - 12.3%
Neither agree nor disagree - 19%
Disagree - 35.1%
Strongly Disagree - 30.7%

7.Your local FA does enough to preserve the grassroots game?

Strongly agree - 3.9%
Agree - 14.6%
Neither agree nor disagree - 26.2%
Disagree - 32.9%
Strongly Disagree - 22.4%

8.What could your local FA do to improve the grassroots game?

Improve facilities/pitches - 46.5%
Lower match fees - 16.6%
Offer alternative forms of the game - 18.3%
Improve standard of referees - 10.1%
Other - 8.5%

9.Do you think the national FA does enough to preserve the grassroots game?

Yes - 16.3%
No - 83.7%

10.What could the national FA do to improve the grassroots game?

Invest in better facilities - 37.9%
More 3G pitches - 28.3%
Better standard of referees - 7.1%
Make game more affordable - 18.2%
Other - 8.5%

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