Using the power of football to inspire, unite and create opportunities for all – this is the theme of Northumberland FA’s ambitious new strategy which sets out our priorities over the next three years.
We want to harness the power and popularity of the sport as a force for good, developing partnerships with people and organisations across our region to improve people’s lives and support their communities.
You can read the strategy here. We'd love your feedback on it - click here to fill in the survey and get a chance to win a pair of tickets for Newcastle United v Chelsea on 30 October!
Executive Officer Andrew Rose-Cook said: “As guardians of the sport locally, we believe that football is a golden thread that has the potential to do good – both on the pitch and beyond.”
To develop the strategy, we went direct to our grassroots participants – coaches, players, parents, club officials and referees for help. We asked them two simple questions – what is absolutely crucial to improving grassroots football locally, and what would be desirable.
The responses from all ages groups were consistent – and identified several key issues. These included:
- Improved facilities including access to artificial pitches to help keep people playing during the winter months
- More summer football provision
- More support and development for coaches
- More referees brought into the game
- Better behaviour from players, parents and coaches
- And specifically from our U18s – more emphasis on fun and enjoyment of the game.
We have already started work on some of these issues. This summer we provided a short term U19 league to give older teenagers, at an age where they often drop out of football, an opportunity to keep playing. We also organised tournaments for our youngest players and holiday camps to attract more girls into the game.
We’ve relaunched our Coach the Coach development programme which was very successful in past years and delivered a vast range of online webinars and training during lockdown.
Moving forward, we have committed to crating pathways into football for everyone and increasing participation from under represented groups by working with partners in the community and our own Inclusion Advisory Group. We will increase the number of referees we train and provide support to ensure existing referees stay in the game.
We have committed to tackling behaviour both on and off the pitch, working with The FA’s Respect campaign and directly with all participants to ensure all of our grassroots community fully enjoy their football experience.
And we have plans to create community engagement initiatives which will use football as a vehicle to help and support people in our local area.
We want to strengthen our partnerships with businesses to bring investment into the sport locally, and further develop events like our upcoming Football Expo North East.
Finally, we have ambitious plans to create a football hub which will act as a home for the grassroots game in the region
Andrew added: “Football always inspired passionate opinions and we are committed to listening to the voices of people who are the lifeblood of the game and addressing their hopes and desires for the game.”