Going for Goal! Football: Benefits of the ‘Beautiful Game’
Football - our national game, and the most popular sport in the world. Respected, loved and supported by millions, both young and old. It’s no wonder Football has also been given the nickname of the ‘beautiful game’.
In this special feature blog we take a look at the fascinating history behind the game of Football and how it has become part of our culture and national identity. We will also share the benefits the sport has to offer and how your child/children can get involved with Football both in and outside of school.
Five Fascinating Football Facts
Approximately 11.8 million people are involved in Football in England alone.
The ball used in professional Football has remained exactly the same size and shape for over 120 years (28 inches in circumference). (2)
The 2014 FIFA World Cup reached a global audience of a whopping 3.2 billion. (3)
The fastest goal ever scored was in 2.8 seconds by Ricardo Olivera of Uruguay in December 1998 (2).
The biggest Football team according to Social Media is Barcelona with an impressive 159.9 million followers! (4)
Football - An Overview
Amazingly enough Football’s historical British roots can be traced back to over 1000 years. One theory has been documented that the game was Anglo-Saxon in origin. In fact it has even been accounted that ‘in both Kingston-Upon-Thames and Chester, local legend has it that the game was played there for the first time with the severed head of a vanquished Danish prince’. (5) From the 8th to the 19th centuries, Football as a sport evolved and grew through different versions depending on region and locality. It developed from a game that was often disorganised, violent at times and could be played with any number of players. Football at this time had no set rules or regulations. It was a sport played between whole villages across miles of land.
In 1862 a London solicitor named Ebenezer Morley formed Barnes FC. Frustrated about the frequent disputes on how the game of Football should be played, Morley wrote to a popular newspaper of the time proposing that Football should have a set of rules and structure in the same way as other sports of the time, such as cricket had. This historic letter led to the first meeting of The Football Association (or The FA) at the Freemason’s Tavern in Great Queen Street, London. On 26th October in 1863 The FA was born, the main purpose for forming such an association was with the objective of “establishing a definite code of rules for the regulation of the game”. (6)
Famous for the FA Cup and for organising the 1966 World Cup (in which the England team won!) the Football Association has a rich history with a firm passion for the game. In modern day their main ethos is ‘Football for All’. With the millions of people playing football, the FA are committed to ensuring that all these footie fanatics have a great experience ‘regardless of gender, sexuality, ethnicity, ability or disability, faith or age’. (7)
It’s no surprise why Football as a sport played such a big role in national identity. With such a vast audience of football players (professional and non professional) and fans. It is a sport that has been passed down through the generations.
So if your child aspires to be the next Karen Carney or Harry Kane on the pitch, we are here to share more about the benefits of the sport, what your child will need in their kit bag, and how they can get involved in the ‘beautiful game’.
Football - The Benefits
Football Fun for All!
Whatever your age, ability or fitness level, there is a type of football to suit everyone. Football is a sport that both girls and boys can participate in, either in separate gender or mixed teams. In 2014 the FA increased the age limit to which boys and girls can play football in the same team from Under 15s to Under 16s.
1.4 million women and girls in the UK regularly take part in Football, making it the nation’s biggest female participation sport.
Football is a fantastic sport for building strength and flexibility. Not only is it great for improving overall fitness but it is also an all round cardiovascular activity for children. Having the main focus on the ball at their feet and being aware of other team mates, means that children develop their hand to eye coordination playing Football. Often played outside, it’s an excellent excuse to get the kids enjoying the great outdoors.
Finding Football Friends
Famous for its team spirit and camaraderie, Football is a sport where team building and bonding is absolutely key. Players need to constantly communicate with each other during a game to succeed. Working together as a team, promotes team-work as well as communication skills. With such a strong sense of team-work, there is often an active social side to Football teams and clubs, where boys and girls socialise outside of Football and matches.
Football - The Kit
Get on the Ball
One of the best things about Football is that all you need is a Football and away you go! You don’t need a vast amount of equipment to get started. It’s also a game that can pretty much be played anywhere: from the playground, to the park, garden or beach. Kids don’t need a special ‘area’ to practise their Football skills or have a quick game.
The most important element of a Football kit is comfort. It is usually shorts and a t-shirt (short or long sleeved) and long socks. Goalkeepers might require or prefer longer ‘Goalkeeper trousers’ for comfort. Before you commit to buying a football kit, check with your activity provider. They may have a specific club kit that you can buy.
The type of Football boots will depend on the surface they mainly play on. Again it’s best to get the advice from your activity provider before buying new Football boots as they can be pricey. Remember your child will need to keep their Football boots clean to get the absolute best from them.
There are two items that you may want to consider to keep your child safe on the pitch. Shinpads are good protection from unwanted tackles and sit underneath Football socks. If your child plays in goal it’s also a good idea to buy them a pair of Goalkeeping gloves to protect their hands. Again, if you are unsure check with your activity provider for the required safety kit.
Football - How to get involved
First thing is first, consider what sort of Football your child wants to get involved in. Are they keen to get stuck into full team Football, or do they prefer a smaller team of five-a-side? Many activity providers offer both types of games. But it’s a good idea to have an idea of what your child would prefer.
Would your child consider Futsal? Futsal is a form of Football very similar to five-a-side but with a main focus on individual skill and technique. Often played with a smaller and heavier ball, Futsal is popular in Brazil and in Mediterranean Europe.
A great first port of call is the FA to find local Football coaching. Since 2007 the Football Association have been providing their FA Lidl Skills Programme to children aged between 5-11 years of age. To date this programme has provided over 9 million child places and aim to provide 1.2 million opportunities every year. Coaching is provided via school as well as holiday programmes.
Local Activity Providers
YMCA Hawker Centre
Kiddikicks NW surrey
Sports Active Coaching
We Make Footballers
Kew Park Rangers
Where to next?
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