London FA: Harnessing the power of grassroots football

Paul Bickerton, CEO at the London Football Association, discusses the London FA’s new strategy and mission to harness the power of grassroots football to enrich more lives in London.

The London Football Association is responsible for governing, safeguarding and developing grassroots football across the capital. Established in 1882, we have a rich history. We have been undergoing a period of exciting transformation and modernisation, with a new board and CEO in place and a new strategy to take us to 2024. Our vision is to harness the power of grassroots football to enrich more lives in London. We are passionate about the wider benefits that football can bring to society and want to work with a broader range of partners across the capital to make this happen.

What is grassroots football?

Grassroots football is football that is non-professional and non-elite. This includes, but is not limited to: amateur adult, women and children’s football, schools and youth football, small-sided football and even futsal. In short, grassroots football is played by the masses at a level where participation and a love of the game are the driving force.

London FA: Grassroots women's football

Challenges

The challenges currently facing the grassroots game have been well documented. People are migrating to more bite-sized forms of football, particularly in London, and this is having an impact on our traditional 11-a-side leagues. The importance of embedding the right safeguarding standards has quite rightly increased but this is placing a significant administrative burden on ourvolunteers. Rising costs mean that local clubs and leagues are struggling financially.

These challenges should be of concern not just to those people who care about football, but to everyone. Local clubs and leagues improve the physical and mental health of people in the local community, creating employment and personal development opportunities for all and bringing diverse communities together like no other sport can.

A new strategy

The London Football Association represents this part of the game. Our new strategy sets out a bold new ambition – one that, if successful, will ensure that the grassroots game in London can thrive again. It has five headline goals, underpinned by 13 specific objectives. These goals are to:

1. Create safer environments for people to thrive

2. Lead the growth of structured football in London

3. Improve access to the game for under- represented groups

4. Develop a workforce as diverse as the city itself.

5. Improve the business to better engage with and serve our members.

Diversity

Diversity is central throughout the new strategy, ensuring that three under-represented groups have more opportunity to play football: women, people with disabilities, and people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.

Engaging with these groups will require a more diverse workforce, and a number of objectives in the strategy focus on recruiting more women and people from a BAME background to coach, referee and administer football. We’ve already made a good start, such as our 100 FC women’s coaching programme, and we are creating small-sided leagues in partnership with Play Football, targeting young men aged 16-19.

Partnerships

To deliver this strategy, we need to engage with a much wider range of sporting and non-sporting organisations such as local authorities, housing associations and a variety of national and local charities and community groups.

If you think a partnership with the London Football Association could help you deliver some of your organisational aims and objectives then we’d love to hear from you. Please email me at Paul.Bickerton@londonfa.com to get the ball rolling.

To discuss this article, contact Radojka Miljevic: radojka.miljevic@campbelltickell.com

This article is also featured in the latest CT Brief – Diversity Focus.

 

Campbell Tickell is an established management and recruitment consultancy, operating across the UK and Ireland, focusing on the housing, social care, local government, sport, leisure, charity and voluntary sectors.

We are a values-based business and firmly place the positioning of our support and challenge on helping organisations to attain change that is well thought through, planned and sustainable. We want to help organisations create the landscape within which we ourselves would like to exist: fair, inclusive, diverse, engaged and transparent. We build from our values in how we approach all our work as a practice.

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