The Football Association of Wales Trust (FAWT) is the organisation responsible for the development of football in Wales, from grassroots to national level. The job of the Trust is to work with the Football Association of Wales to protect, promote and develop the game of football to achieve the joint vision of: Football for everyone, everywhere in Wales.
The trust had 3 major goals:
• 200,000 children playing football at least once per week by 2024
• 60,000 children playing football at least twice per week as registered club members
• 90% of boys and girls playing for the development squads progressing to the intermediate national teams
The 2020 Vision and Strategic Plan for Welsh Football set challenging targets to increase the number and regularity of young people, particularly girls, playing football, in addition to increasing the number of qualified and active coaches and referees. In striving to achieve this, the Trust identified that the education sector plays a significant role in providing football opportunities for young people and engaging future leaders and volunteers.
The Trust identified that they needed support in this area to maximise the education sector’s potential to have a great impact. The Trust is also very mindful that in striving towards this greater impact, the actions may stretch further than their own capacity to deliver sustainable activity via direct delivery. It is recognised that new and innovative approaches need to be identified and adopted to foster football provision on behalf of the Trust within the education sector and to connect these opportunities to partners and stakeholders for longer term involvement.
As a result of this identified need, the Trust knew that it is vital that they fully understand the current football landscape within the education sector from primary schools through to further and higher education so that the aims detailed below can be achieved:
- Enhance existing delivery and ensure it is fit for purpose to support the future game
- Support teachers and all young peoples’ needs and requirements to secure lifelong involvement in football whether as a player who wants a social and informal offer to those who want a more competitive outlet, volunteer, coach or supporter;
- • Understand how to develop more effective approaches to engage and inspire girls’ participation in the game.
- • Connect the community to education and ensure the transitions are accessible and amenable for all to reach
The brief received from FAWT for this work identified a need for the following to be completed as part of the project:
- A review of existing football activity in education settings, including curricular and extracurricular activity and competition structures in primary and secondary schools, SEN schools, further and higher Education and informal education providers that may have an impact in engaging young people through and into football;
- Understand the perceptions and experiences of both participants and influencers (pupils, student, teachers, lecturers and parents);
- Identify strengths, limitations and opportunities and recommend actions required;
- Design a strategic approach and actions to respond to the evidence and maximise potential.
We reviewed all delivery that contributes to and affects the development of football delivery in education settings in Wales. Integral to our work was a comprehensive consultation process to ensure we captured the landscape accurately. Our consultation took place between September and November 2018 and included the following elements:
1.Desk based research – we considered all data and information relating to the development of football in education, including data from the Welsh Schools Football Association, AoC Sport and BUCS. We also considered national policies and relationships with key bodies involved. In addition, we benchmarked football in education with other comparable sports in Wales to identify good practice, for example netball and hockey.
Helen Wynn Head of Products and Programmes at England Netball was invited to the initial steering group with partners on the 20th September. She was able to provide a comparison throughout the process and provided examples of how England Netball have overcome similar grass route participation barriers in previous years. She went on to spend time with FAWT team to further share good practice.
2.Online surveys – we carried out 3 online surveys with the following groups; young people, teachers and county associations. Each survey was open for 2 weeks to allow time for completion.
3.Focus groups/community consultation – we carried out 4 focus groups to engage with those delivering football across the whole of the education sector in Wales. The groups were held in Cardiff, Aberystwyth, Plas Menai and Caerphilly.
4.Telephone interviews – to strengthen the findings from the focus groups, we also conducted telephone interviews to extend discussions initiated at focus groups, or to capture the views of key stakeholders who were unable to attend the groups.
Following the consultation and on gathering our findings, we set about identifying key themes and testing ideas with the project steering group. Finally, we presented our recommendations to the steering group and, more formally, through this report.
Through our consultation and research approach, we uncovered significant amounts of data, feedback and opinions that create a picture of the current situation of football within the education sector in Wales.