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FAW aim to increase participation at all levels with new grassroots football strategy

The Football Association of Wales has released its first grassroots football strategy – Enhancing Lives Through Football.

The new six-year strategy will grow and develop the game, focusing on the people who deliver community football on and off the pitch, increasing participation at all levels, improving behaviours, and enhancing accessibility to the game.

In developing Enhancing Lives Through Football, the FAW has consulted with the public and key stakeholders to gain insight into the current challenges across grassroots football.

The FAW will use the power of football to enhance lives in every community, supporting clubs to become sustainable, adaptable and community focused; improving the quality and access to facilities; in addition to creating a diverse and inclusive grassroots football community.

The strategy identifies six strategic goals focused on people, players, clubs, leagues, behaviours and facilities. The FAW will work in partnership with key stakeholders to achieve a series of aspirational success measures:

  • Double the number of ‘off pitch’ volunteers
  • Double the number of coaches who are women and/or from an ethnically diverse background
  • 20% increase in the number of grassroots matches officiated by a qualified referee
  • 100% of clubs to have a club development plan
  • 50% increase in the number of girls playing aged 5-11 years
  • 50% reduction in players aged 12-17 leaving the game
  • Double the number of registered adults playing recreational football

Under the strategic goals are five enablers covering communications & marketing, digital products and technology, strong partnerships, data and insights, and new investment.

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Over the next six years and the lifespan of this strategy, we have the opportunity and the responsibility to develop, transform and inspire grassroots football.

Ben Field, FAW Head of Grassroots Football, said: “Football can enhance lives in every community and through this six-year strategy, together we will create stronger, healthier and connected communities.

“We will do this by developing people, growing participation, creating strong, sustainable and inclusive football clubs. We also want to see modern and flexible leagues with improved behaviours on and off the pitch.”

Prior to the launch of Enhancing Lives Through Football, the FAW has been adding support to its grassroots team to assist clubs across the country and aid the delivery of the strategy.

Field added: “The FAW has a team of seven Club Developers based within the 6 regional Area Associations. Their primary responsibility is to support clubs with their ‘off pitch’ requirements e.g. facility developments, volunteer recruitment, retention and development, and governance improvements.

“Clubs are also able to access a library of online resources from the FAW ‘Clwb Cymru’ platform. Free digital resources providing guidance on any number of club related matters including attracting and retaining volunteers, facility management and development, engaging better with the local community and legal governance, amongst other topics.”

Meanwhile, the Cymru Men’s National Team Captain, Aaron Ramsey, explained the importance of grassroots football for his children: “They’re absolutely loving it. They’ve got involved, have made new friends and are thriving, loving every minute.

“I really enjoy seeing them play and doing what my parents used to do with me. My Dad is reliving it all again through his grandchildren too, so it’s brilliant.”

Ramsey has enjoyed an illustrious career and knows starting at grassroots level was incredibly important for everything that followed afterwards: “I think a lot of professionals in any sport really start off at a very young age, and they all start at probably grassroots level. I think that it gives you a good base and the fundamentals that are needed to progress.”

The Enhancing Lives Through Football grassroots strategy for 2024-2030 can be accessed at grassroots.faw.cymru.

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