Last year we launched a survey for young people to tell us what they like and dislike about football in Hertfordshire and changes they want to see
We found that the vast majority of young people said that they play football for enjoyment, with almost two thirds saying specifically that they play for fun or to be with friends. By contrast, less than 2% of those responding mentioned reaching a higher level or becoming a professional as reasons why they were involved in the game.
When asked what they did not like about playing football in the county, the main issue raised was the quality of pitches and games being postponed, which was mentioned nearly a third of respondents. Around one in ten made reference to poor behaviour by parents or other players, while a similar number identified a lack of quality trained referees to officiate games as being a concern.
When asked what they could do to improve the game almost a quarter identified their own attitude was important, recognising that they have a part to play in creating a positive environment. Encouragingly 58% of those responding said that they would like to be involved in helping their club or league improve the experience of young people.
Shaping the future of the game
If the game is to thrive it is vitally important that we listen to the voices of young people and ensure that all of our efforts are aligned to meeting their needs.
The results of this survey show that above all else, young people want football to be fun and that they don’t want their enjoyment to be impacted by poor behaviour. We continue to support clubs and leagues in creating a positive environment through initiatives such as the Respect programme as well as helping to raise standards across the game and increase opportunities to play through the new England Football Accreditation.
It’s also clear that young people are desperate to play the game, especially after years of interruptions due to COVID restrictions. Quite simply they don’t want poor weather to deny them opportunities to get out on the pitch with their friends. We recognise that this is a big issue and are proud to have supported clubs in receiving significant levels of funding for both artificial and grass pitches.
Over the last 20 years we have seen millions of pounds invested by the Football Foundation into pitches in Hertfordshire, and yet while it has helped the situation it is still not enough to have the required impact. The latest FA strategy for grassroots football sets out ambitious plans to deliver record levels of investment into facilities, and we will work with partners to implement this locally.
The availability of qualified referees is another long-term issue which we have worked to address from a number of angles. In the first half of the current season, we run 13 courses adding over 300 new referees, supported in part by a new Referee Bursary scheme. In addition, we have established a Referee Support Group to help keep more officials in the game and run a series of online CPD events to further assist referees in their development journey.
It is hugely encouraging to see how many young people are keen to be involved with helping out their clubs and leagues. Grassroots football can only thrive with the efforts of dedicated volunteers and involving the next generation in running the game is vital if it is to keep moving forward. We are actively supporting clubs locally to establish Youth Forums so that young players are able to contribute their views.
Aged 6-21? Then tell us what you think
We continue to seek the views of young people so that we can use them to help shape the future of the game in our county. The latest version of our survey for those aged 6-21 can be completed via the link below and we ask that this is shared widely so that we can hear from as many young people as possible.
COMPLETE OUR YOUTH SURVEY