New research commissioned by the Football Foundation has revealed that the majority of people believe having enough good quality local sports sites would help reduce the sort of social unrest and antisocial activity that hit new heights in recent weeks.
When asked about the effect increasing and improving sports facilities in their region:
• Almost 60% of the 1,100 adults surveyed believe that improving sporting facilities for young people would reduce anti-social behaviour
• Half say it would stop groups and gangs from hanging around street corners
• While 40% say it would increase their sense of pride in the community
• A significant number of respondents believe more/better facilities could prevent children and young people joining gangs (40%), as well as reducing crime (37%).
The Football Foundation believes that the beautiful game can help nurture respect, giving young individuals the opportunity to gain and display respect to team mates and their sporting opposition. Since it was launched in 2000 the Foundation has funded more than 1,500 new or upgraded local sports facilities across the country, with investment provided by the Premier League, The FA and Government (via Sport England). Participation has increased on average by 10.5% at sites that the Foundation has invested in.
The findings were backed by former Premier League and England player, Dion Dublin, who is a supporter of the grassroots game and who recently visited a new Football Foundation site in Leicester, where he played in his youth.
Dion said: “Having enough good quality local sports facilities is incredibly important for sport at all levels. Every player, myself included, started at the grassroots so it is vital that we have the platform to nurture the next generation of talent.
“But it’s also essential for society as a whole: football and other sports are a great way to let off steam and to stay fit and healthy. We are not going to be able to encourage people to get active if they have nowhere to play their sports and we are way behind other countries in that regard.
“That’s why I’m supporting the work of the Football Foundation. I’ve seen at first hand the massive difference the Football Foundation is making by building better facilities for local people, both where I grew up and across the country, with investment from the Premier League, The FA and Government.”
Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, added: “The Football Foundation’s robust evaluation systems have consistently demonstrated how quality facilities provided in the right areas can significantly help to increase participation in sport generally and provide positive alternative activity for young people in particular.
“This latest research demonstrates the importance the general public places on having access to good quality local sports facilities, not just for playing sport, but as a critical component to exploiting the undoubted power of sport to address issues of social cohesion and health, especially among young people. The Foundation has done a great deal, over the past 11 years, to develop local sports facilities where they are most needed; however, it can only do so much with the resources it has. Much more could and needs to be done.
“The Foundation will continue to work hard to improve this country’s local sports infrastructure with our core funders, the Premier League, The FA, the Government and other key partners, such as Barclays and the Greater London Authority.”