Increased Active Through Football Investment To Benefit More Communities in England

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The Numbers

Following the successful launch of the Active Through Football (ATF) programme in summer 2020, further investment has been secured to support an additional 12 places in England.

The programme from Sport England, funded by the National Lottery and delivered by the Football Foundation, sees the delivery of targeted revenue investment through a ‘place-based’ approach with the aim of increasing activity levels and creating sustained behaviour change amongst those facing the greatest inequalities to getting active. 

Initially launched to 50 identified Local Authority areas, 13 places were awarded Active Through Football funding following a competitive application process, in August 2021. 

Given the quality of applications received, and thanks to an increase in investment from Sport England, a further 12 places joined the programme in Spring 2022.

Now, a total of 25 Active Through Football projects are being delivered across the country. 

Each successful project is being delivered by a group made up of a broad range of organisations who cut across sectors and understand their audiences and communities, including local community organisations.

We held a number of local conversations to gain insight for the application. The leadership was distributed across a number of partners, and we gained some really good knowledge. This is the impact of a consortia approach.’”– Active Partnership.

The additional 12 Active Through Football projects are already having a significant impact for local communities. 

In Southampton, Saints Foundation began the delivery of a variety of Active Through Football sessions earlier this summer. The free sessions help to support the health and wellbeing of adults living in one of the city’s highest areas of deprivation. Local people are encouraged to get involved in the design and ownership of the activity to ensure it meets the needs of those attending.

The project was recently paid a visit by the Premier League Trophy as part of the Premier League’s 30th anniversary celebrations.

Premier League Trophy visits Active Through Football in Southampton

The first cohort of Active Through Football projects are now over a year into delivery and continue to help tackle the stubborn inequalities faced by the people they are engaging. 

One such project is Stockton & Thornaby’s ‘Shape the Play’ - an Active Through Football initiative delivered by key local stakeholders. The project aims to raise activity levels and improve the health of those in the community who face barriers to participation. 

Sahida Ditta from the Amal Project, a local charitable organisation involved in the project, said: “It’s great ‘Shape the Play’ are working with grassroots organisations to address the needs of the local community. They’re willing to tailor their sessions and activities to what the community wants.

Bernie, a participant involved in ‘Shape the Play’s’ activity sessions for adults with learning disabilities, said: “I love the sessions. I’ve met a lot of brand-new friends and that’s what it’s all about.

Active Through Football projects across the country are working with a wide range of target audiences including young mothers, people with a learning or physical disability, South East Asian Women, 16-29 year-olds who are unemployed and Pakistani men, as well as new and emerging communities.

Tim Hollingsworth, CEO of Sport England, said: 

It’s inspiring to see the impact that Active Through Football has had. We’ve seen some amazing football role models in stadiums and on our screens over the summer, and it’s only right to give people the chance to get involved for themselves. 

“We continue to be committed to tackling inequalities in sport. We hope that our additional investment to expand the programme will allow the brilliant work to be experienced in even more places and get more people moving.”

Robert Sullivan, CEO of the Football Foundation, said:

“Football is a game for everyone - regardless of their background - and it’s only right that people across all walks of life are able to play the nation’s favourite game.

“Over the past 21 years, we have been working with communities up and down the country to ensure everyone has access to play football.

“Thanks to Sport England National Lottery Investment, the Active Through Football programme is helping to transform people’s lives by developing footballing opportunities for people over 16, who would otherwise face different barriers to playing, unlocking the many benefits of football for the community.”

For more information about the programme, visit our Active Through Football webpage.