The Football Association have launched a new report which explores the social and economic value of adult grassroots football in England, rating the impact of the local Essex game at over £491million.
With the sport’s governing body investing over £1 million each week into the grassroots game to support the eight million adults who regularly play football, they commissioned the report, which is the first of its kind for The FA, to set out the contribution of adult grassroots football to the nation’s economy and wellbeing.
The report found regular grassroots football in England has a social wellbeing value of £8.7bn, with players reporting significantly higher levels of general health, confidence, motivation and trust compared with those who play other sports.
Lower income groups, in particular, were found to experience some of the greatest quality-of-life benefits from football compared with higher income groups, specifically in their health and confidence levels.
In addition to social benefits, the direct economic value of grassroots football was found to be £2.1bn each year, while the report also found the health benefits of playing regular grassroots football produces a cost saving of £43.5m per year to the NHS through reduced GP visits alone.
While at a national level grassroots football contributes £10.8bn in social and economic value, this equates to around £491,186,882m in Essex, based on the amount of football played in the county.
Despite this value, only one in three grass pitches are of adequate quality across the country, while one in six matches are called off due to poor pitch quality. This is why The FA are in the middle of a nationwide analysis, creating demand-led assessments of the pitch supply needs of every local authority in England through the creation of local football facility plans.
Mark Bullingham, The FA’s Chief Commercial and Football Development Officer, said: “This research demonstrates the significant impact that grassroots football has on every part of the country and is a tribute to the great work that the Essex County FA do every day.”
“We’ve always known that amateur football makes a huge contribution to our economy and society in so many ways and it’s fantastic to have that proved now.”
Brendan Walshe, Essex County FA Chief Executive Officer, added: “In Essex we’re proud to be one of the largest counties in the country for football participation, with more than 4,200 affiliated teams. The Essex County FA covers 19 Local Authority areas, including the five London Boroughs of Barking & Dagenham, Newham, Redbridge, Havering and Waltham Forest.”
“Alongside the invaluable volunteers who help run our local game, we’ve committed in our ‘Moving Forward’ Strategy for 2018-21 to ensure we create the best inclusive and diverse environment possible for people of all ages and abilities so they can experience the game of football in Essex. This report is indicative of the huge merits grassroots football has for society.”
To read the full report, or to find out more about how to get involved in grassroots football in Essex, browse the menus above. Information is also shared on Twitter by @EssexCountyFA and on the ‘EssexFootball’ page on Facebook.