Ben­e­fits of grass-roots game

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Sport Football - By Jeremy Wil­son

The push for bet­ter-qual­ity grass­roots pitches has been boosted by a ground­break­ing Football As­so­ci­a­tion sur­vey that out­lines the vast so­cial and eco­nomic ben­e­fits of the game, es­pe­cially in im­prov­ing women’s con­fi­dence.

The Daily Tele­graph launched its “Save Our Game: The Fight For The Grass Roots” man­i­festo last year fol­low­ing the col­lapse of the pro­posed Wem­b­ley Sta­dium sale and FA fig­ures show­ing that one in three grass-roots pitches were considered in­ad­e­quate.

But a new FA sur­vey of around 9,000 am­a­teur play­ers has shown the huge im­por­tance of grass-roots football. It mea­sured not just the di­rect spend of more than £2bil­lion on am­a­teur football, but also cal­cu­lated the wider im­pact on so­cial well­be­ing. Using what is called the “Well­be­ing Val­u­a­tion”, which is mea­sured as the equiv­a­lent in­come a per­son would need to make up for the well­be­ing they gain from play­ing reg­u­lar football, the FA val­ued the ad­di­tional so­cial ben­e­fit at a fur­ther £8.7 bil­lion.

The am­a­teur play­ers re­ported sig­nif­i­cantly higher hap­pi­ness, health, con­fi­dence and trust com­pared not just to the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion but also a range of other sports. More than eight mil­lion adults play football in Eng­land and, with each spend­ing on av­er­age £326 a year on their hobby, the am­a­teur game is worth more than £400 mil­lion in tax con­tri­bu­tions.

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