National Game Strategy is 'relevant' for all footballers

Thursday 13 Aug 2015
Youngsters from AHF FC were at Wednesday's National Game Strategy launch
It may have been four years since the last FA National Game Strategy was publicly unveiled, but for one of the key men involved, it has always been a work in progress.

National game senior development manager Pete Ackerley has had his eye on the ball and ears close to the ground throughout, listening to what people involved in football have had to say before helping to formulate the way forward.

And Ackerley believes the new strategy is one which can only help the game to continue growing and evolving between now and 2019, thanks to investment in the right areas and being able to follow players, coaches, volunteers and clubs more closely.

National Game Strategy launch

Players from FA Charter Standard Club of the Year AHF FC were in Lancashire for Wednesday's event

"It’s been a significant process so far, but the main thing for us is learning from the last strategy period and learning more and more about our footballers and participants," he explained.

"That’s the great thing about our new strategy, it’s insight-led and far more than ever before, what boys, girls, men and players with a disability really want from the game.

"What this strategy does is respond to their wants and makes football far more on their terms, but the main thing for us is that we don’t stop learning or rest on our laurels, but we continue to evolve our game to the way that we need it.

"The term ‘relevant’ is so vital, wherever they play, we have to make the game right for them. So if Saturday at 3pm or Sunday at 10.30am doesn’t fit, then we have to find a way to do that.

"I’m really confident with this strategy and the insight that we have, that we can make a real difference to grassroots football."

His thoughts were echoed by The FA’s national game board chairman Roger Burden, who was alongside Ackerley at the Lancashire County FA’s base in Leyland for Wednesday’s launch.

Roger Burden

Roger Burden says The FA 'can't be complacent' as the new National Game Structure was introduced

With youngsters from local club Abu Hanifah Foundation FC training on an artificial surface at the venue while a massive grassroots investment of over £250m was being announced, Burden wants to see similar scenarios across the nation.

And with the anticipated increase in artificial playing surfaces being a part of that investment, it will not just be on a balmy August afternoon but throughout the year and in all conditions.

"I think we’ve had nothing but good news today because the money is there and what we see around us in Lancashire, we’re beginning to see around the country as more counties follow this Lancashire model," Burden told TheFA.com

"On a day like today, anyone can play football but in January, when it’s muddy, these pitches come into their own.

"This is the way that we know children will enjoy their coaching and can be coached properly to play football properly.

"We can’t be complacent – it is an ambitious target, but we’re already doing well and we’re confident.

"The numbers are realistic and the enthusiasm is there so it’s all achievable."

Click here for full details on the National Game Strategy 2015-19

By Nicholas Veevers