Sunday, February 5, 2023

Record numbers for “Turn up and play” with Essex FA

Record numbers for the GetIntoFootball Thurrock ‘Turn-Up and Play’ sessions at Palmer’s College in Grays have boosted optimism for the future success of the innovative ‘Flexi Football’ League after the regular small-sided scenario could be developed into a full eleven-a-side friendly match.

The Turn-Up and Play sessions for males aged from 16 to 21 continue to take place every Thursday from 7:00 to 9:00pm at the College, costing just £1 each, and GetIntoFootball Thurrock Officer Faye Lambert was overwhelmed with the turnout on 16th June, when a team which had expressed interest in the Flexi League mixed with the regulars.

“Those numbers had already been steadily growing and the news of a potential game encouraged more to attend, resulting in total of 35 over on the Astroturf,” explained Faye, whose role in developing Thurrock football began before Christmas. “Due to the numbers we started with small-sided games so four teams could play at a time. The participants were keen to take this to a full pitch so again we rotated the players and ended-up with a full friendly game.”

“There was a good atmosphere and humour among the guys involved and the sessions have continued to attract large numbers. Over 30 attended again for the next week and our Facebook presence and advertising have increased the number of enquiries we’re having. We all feel the value of being able to attend without having to have a team has been a huge attraction.”

Research has shown that some adult teams are failing to complete a full football season, with work commitments, finances and a lack of players amongst the reasons. As part of a new programme, the Essex County FA are hoping to cater for such players at a central venue in Chadwell Road, ensuring football can adjust to fit in with contemporary lifestyles.

The brand new 11v11 competition for adults in the Thurrock region is being operated alongside Football Development Officer Nick Emery to attract new male players to compete in eleven-a-side football through the medium of the more manageable format. This will run on Thursday evenings, again at Palmer’s College, and could include new squads who have just formed or others who may have dropped out of the weekend game in recent years.

Faye added: “The GetIntoFootball sessions were transferred to Palmer’s as a starting point for the Flexi League to encourage new participants, assist people in finding teams and also to increase enjoyment. I’d say that, after discussions with the Turn-Up and Play guys, the subject of the Flexi League had been approached and they were keen to enter together. With numbers escalating this has meant that we can now possibly look to enter two teams.”


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