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Blog: The true benefits of grassroots football

We all know the benefits of football. It’s great, right? Judging by the grins when our players are on the pitch, that’s a yes.

Even on a cold, rainy night in Stoke, we love the beautiful game. We can’t get enough of it.

But what’s the bottom line behind the bluster? How can we measure the positive benefits of grassroots football amongst junior players?

Thankfully, the Football Association has done just that with its annual report into the social and economic value of grassroots football in England.

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Published in March this year, it’s a key aid for measuring how important the grassroots game is across the country.

Overall, grassroots football in England contributes a whopping £10.16bn to society every year through a myriad of sources. Kits, pitch hire, match fees. Even fuel for mom and dad’s taxi goes towards oiling the economy.

But that’s just a tiny part of the story. What about youth football and the benefits that go beyond the pound in Rishi’s pocket?

Some of the stats in the report are hard to quantify – apparently, playing football is regularly associated with a 6% increase in happiness rating. Who knew?

Dig deeper, however, and you’ll find some real gems. Grassroots football generates 323m hours of positive social interaction for young people. Translated, that’s time spent with your team-mates, your coaches, and all the other people who make our game such a joy.

Just as important, there are 213,500 fewer cases of childhood obesity every year because of grassroots football. That’s a remarkable statistic which will have knock-on effect for years to come, in terms of fewer serious health conditions and hospital admissions.

And equally important as the other two, mental health gets a real boost from grassroots football. Across England, there are 66,500 fewer cases of anxiety and depression due to football on a local level. Again, that has a long-term knock-on effect for the entire nation.

Back to hard cash and there’s even more eyebrow-raising numbers from a sport regularly played by 4.49m children every year.

All those people who work unpaid in children’s grassroots football aren’t alone. There’s 290,500 of them. And they generate a total value of £1.2bn – not only within the sport, but across the economy.

Don’t forget the economic return from those health and social benefits I mentioned earlier. The NHS saves £76.5m from better health outcomes, while GDP grows by £777m because of better education opportunities. There’s even a £6.5m saving through crime reduction.

So yes, football really is great. It gives us all something to smile about and the entire country gets a kick from it as well.

Download the report here: https://www.thefa.com/-/media/cfa/somersetfa/files/news/the-value-of-grassroots-football.ashx


James Shaw