A new ‘Flexible Football’ league is to be formed in Doncaster in a bid to arrest a drop in adult participation levels.
Sheffield & Hallamshire County FA is launching the new venture at Balby Carr Community Academy on Tuesday, January 24.
The floodlit competition aims to retain local league footballers who might otherwise drift away from the sport for a variety of social factors.
“Adult football is changing,” explained the local FA in a statement.
“Across the country, traditional Saturday and Sunday grassroots league football has experienced a downturn in the numbers of teams participating.
“The Football Association is looking to change and develop participation patterns in adult male grassroots football through what they are calling Flexible Football.
“Since 2008, in total nationally, the number of affiliated male teams has declined by nearly 4,000.
“One of the main reasons for this decline is a desire by many recreational participants to play football with greater flexibility and informality without needing to necessarily commit every weekend for a nine month season.
“In addition a host of social changes has had an effect on how, when and for which team adult males play football.
“There’s the fact a whole host of local pubs, which often became the focus point for the team, have closed over the past few years.
“Family shopping tends to take place on Saturday afternoons and Sunday mornings.
“And work for many people is no longer 9–5 Monday to Friday but now includes weekends as well.
“The increase in the number of youngsters, aged from 6-16, playing organised football on Sundays has also seen more males in their late 20s and early 30s either watching their children play or becoming involved in the coaching and volunteering with the various teams.”
Flexible Football competitions will generally take place at a central venue on a floodlit, artificial pitch - just like the one at Balby Carr.
“It will usually involve teams playing games of 25 minutes each-way duration and feature repeat substitutions,” the FA continue.
“Leagues of six to eight teams will play twice a month, generally midweek, and the whole competition will be completed within 20 weeks of fixtures.
“The players involved do so for recreational/social reasons.
“Team administration in Flexible Football is kept as simple as possible, allowing team managers to focus on recruiting and fielding a team.
“It is the job of the league administrator to handle fixtures, collate results, publish league tables, pay match officials, and administer discipline, team affiliation and player registration.
“Flexible Football is not just a ‘kick about’. It should be proper organised football.
“Teams are affiliated to the Sheffield and Hallamshire CFA, players are registered and an effective disciplinary process is in operation.
“When players turn up they should see a high quality pitch and floodlights, FA-qualified referees and a competition that is well run and enjoyable.”
For more information about the new Flexible Football league in Doncaster contact Mark Wozniak, football development officer at Sheffield & Hallamshire County FA, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 0114 2615515.