Watch interviews with Theo Walcott, Jordan Henderson and Marc Albrighton in the gallery above
Theo Walcott is one of a host of star names helping the nation celebrate the success of the Mars Just Play programme.
The Arsenal star joins England Under-21 captain Jordan Henderson, Manchester City’s Scott Sinclair, Aston Villa’s Marc Albrighton, Sunderland’s Connor Wickham and Southampton’s Jack Cork in backing the initiative.
Just Play aims to get the public involved in a week-long series of free kickabouts across the country.
Over 120 Just Play centres will have opened their doors to adult footballers of all ages and abilities by the end of Friday.
And more than 150 free sessions will have taken place around England during the Just Play Free for One Week initiative.
Walcott, Henderson, Sinclair, Cork, Wickham and Albrighton have all led an exclusive session to celebrate the launch of Just Play Free for One Week.
The footballers, who have all represented England at Under-21 level, displayed their skills with groups of local participants whilst joining them in a fun, casual Just Play kickabout in their area.
There’s still time to get involved, just search “Just Play” online to sign up to the Free for One Week initiative or find a local centre for future weekly sessions.
The website features a search engine that allows you to find your nearest centre and sign up for a free session of football.
Each centre is staffed by FA Mars Just Play organisers, all of whom are FA accredited coaches with Level One coaching badges.
The FA and Mars launched the Just Play programme last June as they attempted to halt the decline in adult football.
The aim is to provide facilities, organisers and an online tool that allows players to take part in casual football at a time that suits them.
With weekly sessions running in over 150 Just Play Centres across the country, adults can go onto the Just Play website, enter their postcode, and book themselves onto a kickabout nearby.
Since its introduction the programme has helped break down the barriers to adult football by delivering:
- 90,000 adult places at Just Play kickabouts
- Over 150 Just Play centres nationwide
- 450 Just Play organisers
Just Play has also helped contribute to a wider growth in adult football participation, with 178,000 more adults playing football since 2008.
This surpasses the initial target set out of 150,000 more players by September 2013.
Walcott said: “Just Play is a great way to get back into football and hopefully the Just Play Free for One Week initiative will show people how easy and fun it is to come along and take part in a kickabout.”
Kelly Simmons, Head of The National Game at The FA, added: “The FA Mars Just Play programme has been a great success so far, we are very pleased with the uptake and our first year numbers have already exceeded our original targets.
“Sport England’s recent participation numbers show that adult football is on the rise and programmes like Just Play can really help to keep building that momentum, getting more and more adults back into football.”