Accreditation for centres

What is the Small Sided Football Accreditation Scheme?

Since the inception of The FA Charter Standard programme, The FA has embraced the role quality assurance can play in the provision of grassroots football. Now The Football Association is taking a step further by introducing a new accreditation scheme for Small Sided Football. The concept behind The FA Small Sided Football Accreditation Scheme underpins The FA’s philosophy and National Game strategy on raising standards within all levels and forms of the game.

The FA Small Sided Football Accreditation scheme is intended to reward and recognise excellence in the industry but to also assist organisations in raising standards and developing the quality of their Small Sided Football business structures. This will not only benefit Small Sided Football organisations, but will also help to raise the quality of the football experience and provision for the customer (i.e. the grassroots football player).

Although the Accreditation has been specifically designed for organisations running and operating commercial Small Sided Football leagues, The FA has also aligned this scheme to leading quality assurance kitemark awards from other industries.  This helps to ensure that the Accreditation is fit-for-purpose and not only meets the football aspects but also the business elements in operating Small Sided Football provision.  Throughout the process of developing The FA Small Sided Football Accreditation, The FA consulted widely with a number of leading Small Sided Football organisations in England to ensure that this quality assurance programme meets the needs of the industry and adds value to their businesses.

Why should you try and obtain the Accreditation? 

• The self assessment nature of the award can be used as a tool for continuous improvement, which has been developed for the Small Sided Football industry.
• The award defines industry standards and good practice and encourages the ongoing development and delivery of commercial Small Sided Football within a customer focused management framework.
• Small Sided Football providers can now assess the quality of their own service through a self-assessment process with external assessments undertaken by trained industry assessors.
• The award is open to all small sided providers regardless of whether they are facility owners / league operators.
• The award will be issued on a company basis therefore each provider that applies will be doing so on behalf of their entire stock of facilities / leagues.

How do I know if I am eligible to apply?

The scheme is open to all providers of Small Sided Football, including commercial operators, leisure management companies, leisure trusts and competition organisers. Only Small Sided Football providers operating leagues and competitions located in England can apply for the Accreditation. 

What are the main criteria of the accreditation?

The criterion for the accreditation has been developed on five specific themes:-

• Facility standards
• Operating policies and procedures
• Communication and customer service
• Staffing and personnel development
• Safeguarding and equality

Along with each criterion there is a bank of supporting information, resources and guidance to assist organisations meet the requirements. 

How do I apply for the SSF Accreditation?

To apply for the award the first stage involves the applicant completing a self assessment application form (only one form needs to be submitted for the entire organisation). An FA assessor will review the information that has been provided and once the organisation has satisfactorily completed this first stage the assessor will visit the organisation’s head office along with a random sample of venues / leagues for a formal assessment.

Following completion of all site visits The FA will inform the organisation if they have met the standard and attained the accreditation. The FA will also provide detailed analytical feedback reviewing all elements of the Small Sided Football organisation, from the business as a whole down to specific sites that were visited and assessed. Suggestions and recommendations as well as highlighting particular strengths of the organisation will be provided, offering Small Sided Football organisations a valuable detailed independent review from the national governing body for football.

Organisations that have successfully attained The FA Small Sided Football Accreditation will be required to have an annual re-assessment to ensure that the organisation is maintaining the standards outlined within the accreditation. 

What are the benefits to applying?

There are a number of tangible benefits for achieving the accreditation. From a business perspective it supports and encourages organisations to introduce continuous improvement planning methods, which ultimately will have a beneficial impact on customer service delivery and help raise the standards of Small Sided Football league delivery. But there are also a host of other benefits that The FA are continually adding to:-

• Approved Quality Assurance
The FA Small Sided Football Accreditation Award is the only industry recognised standard of excellence. 

• Use of The FA Small Sided Football Award logo
The successful applicants will be allowed to use The FA Small Sided Football Accredited logo alongside their own company logo as a sign of achieving excellence. There are some specific guidelines on use of the logo.

• FA development programmes
The FA will actively link development programmes to the successful Small Sided Football providers. This may involve initiatives such as referee’s education, driving increased participation and social inclusion projects.

• Increased access to The FA’s Small Sided Development Fund
This is a fund specifically targeted at supporting the growth of small sided football in England. Projects can apply for a maximum of £10K in financial support from the Development Fund. Providers that have achieved the award will have an increased chance of attaining funding providing that their projects meet the development fund criteria via the opportunity to submit an additional funding application per cycle. 

• Access to England Tickets
Successful providers will be added to The FA’s list of suppliers who automatically get preferential access in the purchase of England tickets. 

• Option of purchasing accredited banners and promotional material
The successful providers will be able to purchase promotional material such as large banners with the accreditation kite mark on to assist in their own promotion of becoming a recognised provider of quality that has been assured. 

Next Steps

If you are interested in finding out more about The FA Small Sided Football Accreditation and the costs for undertaking this process then please read through the downloadable Accreditation guidance documents.  If you wish to apply then please complete the application form fully and return (preferably electronically) to the contacts listed on the form.