On Monday, England star Theo Walcott joined The FA’s Head of National Game, Kelly Simmons, at The Hive in Barnet to launch Just Play Free for One Week with Mars.
The free week of football was offered to adults to help celebrate the success of The FA Mars 'Just Play' programme, which launched in 2011.
Over 120 'Just Play' centres will open their doors to adult footballers of all ages and abilities for one week starting 8 October. More than 150 free sessions will take place around England during the Just Play Free for One Week initiative.
Walcott will also be joined by fellow Premier League players Scott Sinclair, Jack Cork, Connor Wickham and Marc Albrighton to all lead an exclusive 'Just Play' kickabout to celebrate the launch of Just Play Free for One Week in October.
The quintet, who have all represented England at Under-21 level, will display their skills and allow a select group of local participants to join them in a fun, casual 'Just Play' kickabout in their area.
People can now sign up to the Just Play Free for One Week initiative by searching online for 'Just Play'. The website features a search engine that allows players to find their nearest centre and sign up for their 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 arrest the decline in adult football by providing 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.”
Simmons said: “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.”
Fiona Dawson, President of Mars Chocolate UK, said: “Mars has a great heritage of working within football and since 2006 we have invested heavily in football related activities that aim to bring the fans closer to the national game. Last year we launched 'Just Play' with The FA as we addressed some of the real issues affecting the state of the game.
"The results have been extremely positive with Sport England’s Active People Survey reporting a 12 per cent increase in adults playing football since 2008. With Just Play Free for One Week we wanted to open our doors to the British public and get even more people playing our national game.”