Date published: 14/10/2014
Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said: “The Football Foundation welcomes The FA Chairman’s Report which reinforces the Foundation’s consistent message over the past ten years, which is that more artificial pitches with floodlights are needed to provide a consistent, quality surface, irrespective of the weather and well into the winter’s evening.
“This, combined with quality, age-appropriate coaching, is the route to developing the technical skills in our young footballers needed for the professional game and ultimately to improve the quality of our national team.”
The Football Foundation welcomes the Report by The FA Chairman’s Commission and its recognition that the poor state of grassroots facilities is a fundamental barrier to both participation and to the technical development of players in this country.
The FA’s own survey outlined in their 2013/15 Facilities Strategy found that half of players had more than five games per year cancelled with 81% of players missing matches due to frozen pitches and 64% from waterlogged pitches.
The Foundation’s expertise developed over 14 years’ of investing money from the Premier League, The FA and the DCMS through Sport England has clearly demonstrated that investing in increasing the capacity and quality of facilities elicits a 9% increase in football participation last season and a 12.4% increase in multi-sport participation.
The Report correctly identifies an urgent need to increase the number of 3rd generation artificial grass pitches. These enable in excess of 80 hours of football activity each week, as compared with five hours on a real grass pitch.
We also install floodlights, meaning that football does not simply grind to a halt when it gets dark at 4pm in winter months, but can carry on well into the evening.
Combine this facility investment with improved, age-appropriate coaching and it will herald a watershed moment in both increasing participation for the love of the game and begin a step-change in the technical development of home-grown footballing talent. The Foundation exists to ensure that more high quality facilities developed to enable as many people of all ages and backgrounds to play our national game purely for the love of it.
The Foundation also concurs with the Report’s recognition of the need for a joint-solution to find the substantial investment required to fund the country’s nationwide inventory of local football facilities.
The Foundation, with its 14 years’ experience leading the delivery of grassroots facility investment, recognises the importance of maximising each pound invested into the grassroots and is proud to have more than doubled investment from its Funding Partners, by using their contribution of £500m to attract £700m in partnership funding.
The Foundation therefore believes the Report is a very positive development to the grassroots game agenda, and to the success of the game at all levels. We look forward to working with The FA, the Premier League and all other stakeholders to support the implementation of the Report’s recommendations and plans.