Friday, February 23, 2024

Turn up and play in your school holidays

School’s summer holidays may have only just kicked-in but it’s business as usual for GetIntoFootball Thurrock Officer Faye Lambert as she tries to entice 14-21-year-olds to her free ‘Turn-Up and Play’ sessions every Tuesday and Thursday through to 30th August at St Cleres School in Stanford-le-Hope.

Faye will continue to encourage youngsters who may normally be unable to access weekend football and give them an opportunity to come along and get involved right through the summer. Since taking-on the new role towards the end of 2010, she has already put in place a range of sessions in the Thurrock area but she believes these ones are slightly different.

“We have these situated all over Thurrock but when I set this up I wanted to continue to offer flexible opportunities for young people to access football sessions and the summer holidays are a great opportunity to do this, with many students on school or college breaks. We extend the invitation to players who have attended our other sessions as well as those who are new.”

Turn-Up and Play provides a chance to participate on a 3G all-weather pitch and FA qualified coaches organise the sessions, targeting players who have dropped out of football but want to get involved again. Small-sided or 11v11 games may feature if numbers dictate and there are two age groups, 14-16-year-olds playing from 4:00-5:00pm and 16-21s from 5:00-6:00pm.

“I think splitting the age groups will be beneficial as it allows them to play with their own peers,” Faye continued. “14s to 21s as a whole have shown a large dropout from regular football so this allows me the chance to work with them, understand why and see which measures can be put in place to try and address the issue. Turn-Up and Play is a flexible format if the need is there.”

Research has shown that teams are failing to complete a full season, with work commitments, finances and a lack of squad depth amongst the reasons. As part of the new programme, which began before Christmas, the Essex County FA and their partners are hoping to cater for all potential players, ensuring football can adjust to fit in with contemporary lifestyles.

Faye knows that some of the people who come along will be familiar faces, but she doesn’t mind as long as the overall goal of raising participation in the area is being achieved. “We’re finding that some are attending several sessions, which is great because it shows they’re enjoying them,” she explained. “So far there has been a mixture of abilities and experiences, but that’s the great thing about GetIntoFootball – it doesn’t matter if you’ve never tried it before!”

She is also on the lookout for females aged between 14 and 21 who might also be interested in these sessions, adding: “I’d love to hear from females who’d like to engage in football, maybe from those who aren’t in a team but would like to start or get back into the game. If there are enough we can arrange sessions at the same time or provide exit routes into clubs.”


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