With the delayed European Championships fast approaching, all eyes will be on the England national team as they look to end a 55-year major tournament drought.
There’s no doubt that a heavily funded grassroots structure has been at the heart of England’s recent attempts to win a major trophy, as has a concerted effort to develop more creative and technical players (such as Phil Foden).
The latest grassroots initiative was announced recently, in the form of the aptly-named ‘England Football’. But what exactly is this scheme, and how can it promote football participation on these shores?
What is ‘England Football’?
In simple terms, the ‘England Football’ initiative aims to create more chances for people to play, coach and support the discipline, in a bid to boost participation across all demographics.
Not only this, but the scheme has also been designed to create a better connection between the grassroots games and the England national team, with this model having been previously favoured by Spain and Germany.
These goals and the new, visual identity that it affords English football will infuse a raft of corporeal and digital products, including the new grassroots online hub EnglandFootball.com.
This resource represents a one-stop, virtual hub across all levels of the game, creating a universal portal that includes comprehensive information and offers widespread access to all FA and grassroots participation programs.
Perhaps more importantly, the resource ensures that the latest and most advanced learning resources are made available to grassroots clubs, with this helping to create a universal coaching approach that can create future players with specific technical attributes.
Another key digital tool is the Find Football app, which has been designed to help players and parents find new participation opportunities.
Once again, this applies across all levels and age groups, while there are also nationwide opportunities to ensure that players don’t miss out simply as a result of their location.
Several of England’s best grassroots initiatives are accessible through this hub, including Snickers Just Play, Weetabix Wildcats and Age UK Walking Football.
What Does This Mean for Grassroots Football in England?
This new initiative represents the next step in English football’s grassroots revolution, which has been initiated to evolve the national game and place a greater emphasis on ball retention and the type of technical skills that currently underpin success on the international stage.
However, this is arguably one of the most important steps, not least because it unites its numerous grassroots initiatives and programs under a single banner.
This creates a uniformity that can impact every aspect of grassroots football, from the level and nature of coaching to the wider lessons that clubs look to impart on younger players.
Similarly, the initiative will harness the ability of England teams at all levels to engage and inspire future generations of players, using existing players as accessible and clearly-defined role models.
Overall, this is another key step in the quest to update England’s grassroots infrastructure, and bring it in line with more progressive systems on the continent. The digitisation of products will also help in this regard, particularly in terms of accessibility and appealing to younger players.