Dion Dublin backs Football Foundation research into importance of community facilities

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60% of people believe better local sports facilities would reduce antisocial behaviour

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Dion Dublin inspects progress on new Football Foundation-funded community sports facility in Leicester where he played as a youngster

I've seen at first hand the massive difference the Football Foundation is making by building better facilities for local people, both where I grew up and across the country, with investment from the Premier League, The FA and Government.

New research commissioned by the Football Foundation has revealed that the majority of people believe having enough good quality local sports sites would help reduce the sort of social unrest and antisocial activity that hit new heights in recent weeks.

When asked about the effect increasing and improving sports facilities in their region:

  •     Almost 60% of the more than 1,100 adults surveyed believe that improving sporting facilities for young people would reduce anti-social behaviour
  •     Half say it would stop groups and gangs from hanging around street corners
  •     While 40% say it would increase their sense of pride in the community
  •     A significant number of respondents believe more/better facilities could prevent children and young people joining gangs (40%), as well as reducing crime (37%).

The Football Foundation believes that the beautiful game can help nurture respect, giving young individuals the opportunity to gain and display respect to team mates and their sporting opposition. Since it was launched in 2000 the Foundation has funded more than 1,500 new or upgraded local sports facilities across the country, with investment provided by the Premier League, The FA and Government (via Sport England). Participation has increased on average by 10.5% at sites that the Foundation has invested in.

The findings were backed by former Premier League and England player, Dion Dublin, who is a supporter of the grassroots game and who recently visited a new Football Foundation site in Leicester, where he played in his youth.

Dion said: “Having enough good quality local sports facilities is incredibly important for sport at all levels. Every player, myself included, started at the grassroots so it is vital that we have the platform to nurture the next generation of talent.

“But it's also essential for society as a whole: football and other sports are a great way to let off steam and to stay fit and healthy. We are not going to be able to encourage people to get active if they have nowhere to play their sports and we are way behind other countries in that regard.

“That's why I'm supporting the work of the Football Foundation. I've seen at first hand the massive difference the Football Foundation is making by building better facilities for local people, both where I grew up and across the country, with investment from the Premier League, The FA and Government.”

Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, added: “The Football Foundation’s robust evaluation systems have consistently demonstrated how quality facilities provided in the right areas can significantly help to increase participation in sport generally and provide positive alternative activity for young people in particular.

“This latest research demonstrates the importance the general public places on having access to good quality local sports facilities, not just for playing sport, but as a critical component to exploiting the undoubted power of sport to address issues of social cohesion and health, especially among young people. The Foundation has done a great deal, over the past 11 years, to develop local sports facilities where they are most needed; however, it can only do so much with the resources it has. Much more could and needs to be done.

“The Foundation will continue to work hard to improve this country's local sports infrastructure with our core funders, the Premier League, The FA, the Government and other key partners, such as Barclays and the Greater London Authority.”

To find out more about the work the Football Foundation is doing all over the country follow us on http://twitter.com/FootballFoundtn or visit http://www.footballfoundation.org.uk.

For more information please contact:

  •     Rory Carroll on 0845 345 4555 ext 4280 or rory(dot)carroll(at)footballfoundation(dot)org(dot)uk
  •     Richard Faulkner on 0845 345 4555 ext. 4274 or richard(dot)faulkner(at)footballfoundation(dot)org(dot)uk

Notes to editors

Caption for photo: Dion inspects progress at the new Football Foundation-funded Victoria Park sports site in Leicester, where he played as a youngster.

Participation stats

The table below shows that where the Foundation has built or upgraded sports facilities, more people have been able to play football and other sports.

Increased participation at facilities as a result of Foundation investment    

  •     Male football participation: +11.5%
  •     Female football participation: +4.6%
  •     Male multi-sport participation: +13%
  •     Female multi-sport participation: +6.7%
  •     Overall participation: +10.5%

Key stats from REFF (Register of English Football Facilities):
The Foundation’s key findings from its 2003 ‘REFF’ survey of 45,000 pitches identified:

  •     38% of pitches in England were without changing rooms
  •     94% of football sites had no female changing provision
  •     94% of pitches had no floodlights
  •     80% of pitches were either badly drained or had very basic changing provision

The survey findings:

Opinion Matters carried out the research on behalf of the Football Foundation and questioned a representative sample of 1,127 adults between 18 August 2011 and 23 August 2011.

Question One
Do you think increasing and improving sports facilities for young people in your region would do any of the following?

  •     Reduce anti-social behaviour: 57.9%
  •     Stop groups and gangs hanging around street corners: 49.9%
  •     Increase their sense of pride in the community: 40.6%
  •     Prevent children and young people joining gangs: 39.9%
  •     Reduce crime: 37.0%
  •     Make the area feel safer: 29.2%
  •     It would have no impact: 24.0%
  •     Other please specify: 2.8%
  •     It would have a negative impact on the community: 2.1%

Question Two
Do you think a contributory factor to the recent unrest in built-up communities across England could be many young people having nowhere to go?

  •     Yes: 50.8%
  •     No: 28.0%
  •     Unsure: 21.2%

Question Three
What do you think are the benefits of new and improved sports facilities and spaces for sport for young people?

  •     Improved health and fitness: 76.4%
  •     Improvement in behaviour and discipline: 59.8%
  •     Improvement in the standard of sport in this country: 49.6%
  •     Greater sense of community: 46.8%
  •     Reduction in crime: 44.4%
  •     None of the above: 10.6%
  •     Other please specify: 1.9%

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Richard Faulkner
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