Safeguarding and Welfare

Youth Football

Safe, Engaging and Progressive

football welcomes every child or young person

Play the game in a safe, engaging and progressive environment

Whether you have dreams of becoming the next Harry Kane or Lucy Bronze, or you'd just like to enjoy kicking a ball about with your friends, Essex football welcomes all children and young people into a safe, engaging and progressive environment.

In the last decade, the way we provide youth football has fundamentally changed, introducing 5v5, 7v7 and 9v9 formats across different age groups and adapting the competition structure to support player development and improve their experience. It's crucial to retain player participation - smoothing the transition into adult football.

If you are female and you wish to play in a youth female football team (aged 11+) then you need to get in touch with your local club. Use the 'Find Football' tool below to find the nearest opportunities to you. There are also a number of youth league opportunities within the county. Some offer mixed football, and the county has one girls-specific league. If you wish to speak specifically to a league, then follow the link above to reach out to the key leads within each area.

In 2021/22, the 'Standard Code of Rules for Youth Football' were changed. One of the biggest changes was the introduction of girls' teams playing a year down from what they are affiliated as. An Under 12s Girls’ team could play within an Under 11s league programme. This has led to an increase in the number of girls’ teams playing within mixed youth football leagues. For further clarity on any of the above, please contact your local area Football Development Officer.



Are you looking to provide a fun way for girls 5-11 to get involved with football at your club? Then look no further! Weetabix Wildcats is the place to be, with FA-qualified coaches and volunteers who deliver the sessions.

So, what is Weetabix Wildcats? Well, it’s non-competitive football for girls who want to give it a go for the very first time or want to play with other girls their own age. Most importantly, Weetabix Wildcats is all about having loads of fun and meeting new amazing friends. There is currently a window of opportunity to apply for Wildcats until Friday 12th August. Find out more, and apply, by following this link.

Find football near you

There are clubs and sessions all over Essex...

Find Football



We offer opportunities for boys and girls of all abilities to get involved with local clubs, whether they're aiming to climb the ladder or if they're looking for recreational enjoyment playing the game with friends.

For girls, there's a specific talent pathway we can guide them along. We have a wide network of Weetabix Wildcats Centres, in which girls can come and just get involved with the game in a fun and safe environment. There's also our Player Development Centre and Regional Talent Club.


It's important to ensure every club has qualified and appropriate coaching, by ensuring our volunteers are upskilled and trained for an age-appropriate environment.

We help the grassroots workforce to remain informed of the rules and regulations in youth football so we can provide a fair and consistent environment across the game. Our safeguarding policies and activities also make sure every young person can be in a safe and engaging environment.
Let's Make football safe, not sorry we take safeguarding seriously
Reporting Concerns


If you feel that an adult connected to your league or club (e.g. a referee, coach or a volunteer) is mistreating someone under the age of 18, there are various confidential ways you can report this.

By ‘mistreating’, we mean behaving towards under 18s in a physical or verbal way you believe is threatening or makes the young person feel scared or bad.

Find out more and watch a short film The FA has produced explaining how to report your concerns. Of course, everything is completely confidential.