The Greater Game

The Greater Game: Inspiring 12-16s to Improve Their Health

Accessible Football-Inspired Games for Young People

The Football Association are rolling out a national ‘The Greater Game’ campaign focused on inspiring 12-16-year-olds, and their families, to improve their health and wellbeing by making at least one extra healthier action per week.

Central to the campaign is a grassroots programme, co-created with the Official Health & Wellbeing Partner of FA Grassroots Football, Nuffield Health, which focuses on four key elements: moving well; thinking well, eating well; sleeping well. Fellow founding partner, M&S Food, will be focusing on the ‘eating well’ element.

The pilot grassroots programme, launched in 2023, saw 186 teams take part, with participating clubs noticing a positive impact across all elements. As a result, it is now being rolled out nationally, with an ambition of onboarding clubs across all 50 County FAs, including Essex. This is supported by FA research of 1,800 nationally representative 12-16-year-olds in the UK, revealing that almost a third (31%) do not believe regular exercise is necessary.

The programme will roll out with a focus on the moving well element as The FA launches ‘Drops’, an accessible football-inspired game for young people. To play, the game requires three friends, six bottles and a ball and is designed to be easily played on a regular basis to inspire young people to be more physically active and move more in a fun way.

England stars including Ollie Watkins, Jessica Park and Gino King from the England men’s, women’s and para teams feature in a launch film. The focus of The Greater Game is to inspire this age group to move more to not only reap the benefits for their physical health, but for their mental health too. Further research found that over half (52%) of young people have experienced a mental health problem in the last year.

The programme provides practical tips and techniques to support making healthier choices across all elements (Move, Think, Eat, Sleep), with over a third of 12-16-year-olds claiming they do not feel the need to sleep more than nine hours - the recommended time to aid development in young people. Only 14% say they manage to do so every day.

The Greater Game ambassador and former England international, Jill Scott, commented: “I’m a huge believer in the importance of being active, not just through football, but throughout your everyday life. What’s important about The FA’s Greater Game campaign is that it educates young people on the benefits of a healthier lifestyle, whilst providing them with the tips and tools to go out and put that into practice.”

James Kendall, FA Director of Football Development, added: “We are really proud to be able to launch The Greater Game nationwide, following our successful trial period. Delivering this exciting programme through our incredible network of County FAs and grassroots clubs will allow us to harness the power of football to help improve the health and wellbeing of young people at a crucial time in their lives.”

Parents, guardians, coaches, teachers and local communities are encouraged to participate in The Greater Game, by signing-up via this link. Information on grassroots Essex football can also be found in the menus above, by following @EssexCountyFA on Twitter/X and by searching for ‘EssexFootball’ on Facebook.

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