The National Game division is responsible for increasing participation in the men’s and women’s game, providing a co-coordinated approach to the development of football at all levels below the Football League.
County FA’s run the game at the local level
The 43 County Football Associations are the administrative backbone of grassroots football throughout the country. The Counties are independent bodies, affiliated to The Football Association, but responsible for running all aspects of the game at the local level. Around 40,000 football clubs in total are affiliated to County FA’s.
Many of the County F.A’s have been in existence from more than a century. Sheffield FA (now Sheffield & Hallamshire) was the first to be formed, in 1867, and was followed by Birmingham (1875), Surrey and Shropshire, both in 1877, Berks and Bucks, Cheshire and Lancashire (all 1878). The key administrative functions of County F.A’s revolve around the affiliation of local competitions and leagues, registration of players, organisation of match officials and administering of discipline.
Over recent years, Counties have expanded their activities and are now involved in developing the game at the local level, through initiatives such as coaching, Mini-Soccer, women's and girls' football, and running training programmes for referees and First Aid courses.
Each County is working towards implementing a Development Plan, in conjunction with local partners. In each area, the County FA co-ordinates a Local Football Partnership, which bring together football and other partners to create and prioritize football facility and development, plans for the locality.
The FA National Game division is leading the revitalizing of the grassroots
The FA's National Game Division was created to work with County FA’s, Local Football Partnerships, the Football Foundation and The FA's commercial partners to develop football in England at every level below the Football League, from the Football Conference to parks and schools.
Its responsibilities range from creating the strategy for grass-roots football, to developing non-League football. Also overseeing the handing out of major sums of money that have already started to restore the lower levels of the game.
1. Raising Standards
This means raising the standards of both schools and grass-roots clubs, through The FA's Charter Standard programmes. Thus, getting on for 500 clubs have already achieved FA Charter Standard status. The target is for 30 per cent of all schools, and a total of 5,000 clubs, to achieve it within five years.
This Charter Standard acts as a kite-mark endorsement, designed to raise and reward quality standards in football provision, in both schools and clubs.
2. Improving Facilities
The results of work done in compiling a Register of English Football Facilities (REFF) are soon to be published. REFF comprises a national survey of all grass-roots facilities in England, undertaken by Price Waterhouse Cooper and designed to identify where investment is most needed. This has been funded by the Football Foundation.
The objective is to change that. Hence, The FA is investing at least £45m via the Football Foundation over the next three years into improving grass-roots pitches, club-houses and other facilities.
3. Developing Football Administration
The work in this area includes getting more people involved in football as volunteers, whether in coaching teams, running clubs or refereeing games. Thus the National Game Division is working with County FA’s on delivering a programme of Effective Football Club Administration (EFCA), consisting of courses to support volunteers and building on the key role that they play at grass-roots level.
Meanwhile, The FA is investing £12 million over four years in a custom-designed IT system that will link the football community and ease the administration burden on clubs, leagues and County FA’s. As part of this, a League Administration is already available on the Internet, while in the near future, all County FA’s will be operating under a new County Administration System.
4. Developing Women's Football
Women's football is already the biggest sport for women in this country and The FA is putting the structures in place to help it expand further, with the hope of a doubling of the number playing within the next decade, if not sooner. The FA also has plans to create a professional league for women
5. Developing Leagues, Competitions and Clubs
This means developing everything from The FA Trophy and FA Vase to ambitious plans for developing hundreds of what are being called "community clubs".
These are sort of "super-clubs", each with at least ten teams, ranging from junior to women's and senior teams. "It is the sort of club where you can start as a youngster, playing in a junior team, and go all the way through to playing as a veteran", explains Stone. Such clubs will also have a social area or bar, where the life of the club can continue before and after the game.
This approach is based on the model of grass-roots clubs in Holland, where clubs get Government investment and boast first-rate facilities.
"We want community clubs to be at the heart of our plans", says Stone. "Our objective in the next five years - or, it could take ten - is to create 500 community clubs. We could probably today already identify 100 clubs which are candidates for community club status."
6. Raising Awareness
The final priority is simply to raise awareness among everyone from the media and the general public to players and parents of the work being done by The FA and County FA's to develop our national game
National League System
England has perhaps the most comprehensive competitive league structure anywhere in world football, with around 40,000 affiliated clubs playing in 2200 leagues.
The National League System describes the structure of competitions below the Football League level, with relegation and promotion provisions ensuring that clubs can progress from small beginnings right to the top rungs of the game.
Working with leagues and clubs, The Football Association is committed to improving the National League System, making it the most exciting, fun and effective league structures in the world with quality competitions
The Drug Testing Programme
The F.A. Doping Control and Health Education Programme
There are many different sections to the F.A’s Doping control they are as follows:-
All tests are carried out randomly, however, there is provision in the guidelines for The FA to 'target' a player if this is requested by his club or P.F.A. and where there is significant evidence to do so.
The Football Association works to a comprehensive set Procedural Guidelines. There is a very tight set of Guidelines, Rules and Regulations covering this important area. As well as this, guidelines regarding disciplinary sanctions for offending players have been devised.
The FA Doping Control Programme is carried out in conjunction with the UK Sports Council Doping Control Unit.
It is important to have an independent outside body rather than totally control sample collection and selection of games as the governing body this avoids any suggestion of foul play.
All matches, training sessions and players are randomly selected for testing and at each visit two Independent Sampling Officers (ISO's) from The Sports Council are accompanied by an FA Supervising Officer who is either a Doctor or Physiotherapist approved by The FA.
The role of the FA representative is to ensure full co-operation from the player and club involved, to explain the rules and procedures to players and officials where necessary and to check all the paperwork completed out by the Sampling Officers is in order.
A further role is to excuse a player from a testing 'event' on medical grounds, where a significant injury requires a player to attend hospital immediately.
For 'In Competition' testing at a game, the drug testing team arrives unannounced at the chosen club. Two players are selected from each site at random during the half time interval.
The club secretary will be informed at half-time and he/she will be present to witness the random selection of players. After the game, the players are directed to a sample collection area (room with toilet facilities). The sample collection procedure is explained to the players and carried out in accordance with the drug testing guidelines.
The Sampling Officer will collect the urine sample and organise the dispatch of these samples to the IOC laboratory for analysis. The results of the analysis of samples are forwarded to the Administrator of the FA Doping Control Programme privately and confidentially.
In the case of a positive sample, a separate procedure is put into action. The FA Chief Executive, The Professional Footballers Association (Union) and the FA Compliance Officer are informed of the find.
If a player's positive sample is for performance enhancing drugs, it is highly likely that he will be charged with misconduct for bringing the game into disrepute and would appear before an FA Disciplinary Commission.
If the player's positive find is for social or recreational drugs, The FA guidelines allow for an interview with the player. Depending on the outcome of the interview may be charged with misconduct and ordered to appear before an FA Disciplinary Commission.
If any of these rules or guidelines are breached the F.A have the authority to enforce the following actions:-
- No action is to be taken
- A warning as to future conduct
- Punitive sanctions against the player (ban)
- Request a clinical assessment of the player
- Decide that the player will receive:-
- And/or rehabilitation for the condition
- Probationary target testing following treatment or rehabilitation (if required).
The player has to fully comply with the exact wishes of The FA. The player will agree to clinical assessment by The FA's chosen specialist at a Centre selected by The FA and is in a form of probation, in which he can and will be tested for a period between 12 - 24 months following The FA's decision to allow him to resume playing once considered 'fit' to represent football again.
Results of the FA Doping Control Programme
Not only does this show that the F.A are doing there best to “clean the sport up” but it also shows it is working. The number of significant positive finds has more than halved since 1994/1995 this is with the number of test conducted five times more. However if there is to be one negative, there was still 6 finds out of 1054. This shows that drugs still play a part on this sport and also 1054 is no where near a representative amount of sportsmen and women that compete in football in England.
The Football Association
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Tel: +44 (0) 207 745 4545
Fax: +44 (0) 207 745 4546
Surrey County Football Association Ltd
321 Kingston Road, Leatherhead, Surrey KT22 7TU
Tel: 01372 373543 Fax: 01372 361310