Essex will benefit from a proportion of a brand new £1 million ‘Retain the Game’ funding scheme for adult male football teams designed to boost football’s traditional format following a recent decrease in the numbers.
Retain the Game, which is funded by The FA and delivered by the Football Foundation, is offering existing grassroots clubs grants of £750 to continue offering valued playing opportunities in organised football. These grants will support clubs’ adult male teams in three age categories: Under 17s to 21s, Open-Age and Veterans.
The grants are designed to cover core costs which are incurred by grassroots clubs, including matchday and training facility hire, first aid training and new Nike kit and equipment through a bespoke voucher. The Essex County FA are providing support with applications and grassroots adult clubs who meet the following criteria will be eligible to apply:
* two or more adult male teams who hold the FA’s Adult Charter Standard, Charter Standard Development or Charter Standard Community Awards
* two or more adult male teams who commit to achieving FA Adult Charter Standard status within the 2018/19 season
This push to reverse the decline in adult male league football follows the recent 2018 Grow the Game funding window, which made £1.5 million available for grassroots clubs looking to create new women’s and girls’ or disability teams. This offer was met by an overwhelming response and it is predicted this year’s investment will create around 1,000 new teams.
As well as Retain the Game, the Football Foundation delivers the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund through Sport England. Since 2000, the Foundation has supported over 17,000 grassroots projects worth more than £1.4bn. Retain the Game is inclusive of players from different ethnic backgrounds, faiths and sexual orientations. Should the fund be oversubscribed, clubs who meet the following criteria will be prioritised:
* in existence for ten or more seasons
* in existence for between five and nine seasons
* three or more adult male teams
* operate in leagues employing The FA’s ‘Full Time’ system
Essex County FA Football Development Officer, Jake Stephenson, knows adult male 11v11 football needs more attention: “Within the modern game, adult 11v11 will always need additional support in order to steady the decline nationally. It’s a key focus of ours to sustain and retain existing adult clubs within the traditional 11v11 format, whilst simultaneously providing support for a variety of formats by offering a different option for all.”
Jake started his role in November and he’s excited to oversee the work taking place to arrest the decline in numbers: “I’ve been captivated by the knowledge and continued passion of the team. I’m most impressed by the volunteers, managers and coaches of Essex teams. Their enthusiasm is particularly infectious and I look forward to offering support to those individuals.”
“There’s a variety of areas being discussed at present, nationally and across the county. We’re consulting with adult leagues to analyse best practice and hosting working group meetings. Teams can access support documents and services through our website and our ‘Squad Booster’ service. We’re also offering further ‘Flexi-Football’ and Mars ‘Just Play’ Centre opportunities so we can then signpost individuals back into the 11v11 format where possible.”
The application window for Retain the Game is now open and closes on Wednesday 30th May. Clubs seeking further details on the programme should contact their local Essex County FA Football Development Officer, or visit www.footballfoundation.org.uk/retain-the-game. Grassroots football information is also shared on Twitter @EssexCountyFA and by searching for ‘EssexFootball’ on Facebook.
FA Launch Adult Grassroots E-Bulletin
The FA are aware of the challenges being faced in the adult game, and aim to provide practical content which makes the running of an adult team or league easier. As well as promoting Retain the Game, they’ve launched a new E-Bulletin.
It aims to enhance communication within adult grassroots clubs and leagues operating outside the National League System and the new publication will highlight some good news stories and celebrate the traditions and culture of the grassroots game. The latest issues can be found in our 'Leagues & Clubs' section each time they’re published (Issue 2 also below).