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The Football Foundation column: Facilities will help increase English talent pool, says Southgate

Recently we caught up with Football Foundation ambassador and head of elite development at The FA, Gareth Southgate.

The former England defender took part in an online podcast with our chief executive, Paul Thorogood. The show, hosted by Jonathan Joseph (aka DJ Spoony) discussed the importance of grassroots facilities to the national game.

Southgate was quick to point out the importance of 3G pitches during the chat: “The reality is that with a grass pitch you can use it maybe only three or four times each week because most don’t have floodlights. When the Football Foundation put an artificial surface down you can get up to 60 teams using it. It makes an enormous difference for the amount of people who can play.”

Southgate also believes the investment goes beyond improving communities and impacts the England national side directly.

He added: “Getting more kids playing the game will give us a bigger talent pool of players to pick from [at international level].

“For to long we have pinned our hopes on a couple of outstanding talents. If you look at Spain and France and countries like that, they’ve developed a bigger pool of players over the years.

“I keep coming back to it but facilities are the starting point of that and then outstanding coaching. That’s what we’ve got to look at; having that pool of players to pick from is key for the future.”

Our Monitoring and Evaluation Report of facilities showed in 2011, 500,000 people enjoyed playing the national game at Foundation sites, with overall participation increasing by 10.1% during this period.

To view the full podcast click HERE

Landmark FA youth plans get Foundation backing

As many of you will be aware there was a recent major shift in how the next generation of youngsters will progress through the grassroots.

FA shareholders voted overwhelmingly in favour of the new youth development plans, meaning the introduction of age-appropriate football, giving players more touches on the ball with greater emphasis on space, movement and skill.

This means smaller-sided games, on smaller-sided pitches, with smaller goal-posts for younger players. Gone are the days of an eight or ten year old goalkeeper expected to keep the ball out of a goal designed for a fully grown adult.

The Football Foundation will play a key role in the transition phase by ring fencing significant funding towards the new goalposts and reconfigured pitches.

Premier League cash goes further at the lower-levels

This week spelled good news for non-league clubs.

Our sister organisation, The Football Stadia Improvement Fund (FSIF), that distributes six million pounds of Premier League cash each year towards lower-league ground improvements, has announced major changes to its eligibility criteria.

The end result is that clubs can apply for a higher percentage of grant aid over a wider range of projects.

Non-league clubs can now apply for grants totalling 50% of the overall project cost at steps one to five and 70% for steps six and seven.

Previously percentages varied starting at 20%. This means less partnership funding is needed – something that will be music to the ears of clubs struggling in the current economic climate.

Several items such as players' and officials' protected walkways, press seating, team dug-outs, pitch maintenance equipment and hospitality areas, which were all previously ineligible have also been added.

To view a poster of the full eligibility criteria click HERE

The Football Foundation is the country’s largest sports charity, funded by the Premier League, The FA, and Government (via Sport England).

For more information follow us on Twitter: @FootballFoundtn

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