Grassroots football in England

, 17 January, 0comments  |  Jump to most recent
"Elsewhere on the Web" Special

The Guardian's Liverpool-based reporter Andy Hunter reports on the abuse, death threats and withering numbers plaguing grassroots football on Merseyside, symptomatic of a nationwide malaise at this vital level of the national game.

Talent spotted on the football pitches of Merseyside will play a major role for England at this summer's World Cup.

Down at grassroots level, however, the outlook on Merseyside and throughout the country is bleak.

"[O]ne of the biggest challenges we face is facilities," [says Mick Baikie, the national clubs services manager at the Football Association]. "We've got qualified coaches but we haven't got the facilities for them to coach and play. The big problem now is the public sector cuts — 80% of games are played on local authority sites that have been heavily subsidised in the past but we are starting to see an impact with the cuts."

Nationally, there has been a 9% decrease in the number of 16-year-olds and over playing football at least once a week in eight years, according to Sport England. There are myriad reasons — lifestyle changes, the recession, houses standing where pitches used to be — and many projects, plus thousands of dedicated people, attempting to combat the problem.

The Save Grassroots Football e-petition requires 100,000 signatures to prompt a debate in the Commons but has under 23,000 names, with one month remaining. It would have attracted more with the backing of the 50 county FAs that Saunders contacted about the campaign. Not one replied.

The Save Grassroots Football e-petition can be found at [Link fixed]

» Read the full article at The Guardian

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