Vauxhall giving back to grassroots
Vauxhall giving back to grassroots
A coach from Wrexham is putting the fun into football thanks to a scheme from the Football Association of Wales (FAW).
Gemma Jones, 30, of The Racecourse Foundation is running a series of soccer sessions across Wrexham, Flintshire and Denbighshire, made possible by funding from the FAW and Vauxhall Fun Football Programme.
With the first major football tournament taking place in Wales over the summer – the UEFA European Women’s Under-19 Championship – the emphasis has been placed on increasing participation from girls and disabled children in particular. To aid this, clubs can now apply for investment from the FAW of up to £3,000 to kick-start their project.
Gemma said: “I coach hockey and with that, it’s very much evenly matched boys and girls. In football, I was very keen to promote participation amongst girls. I run a girls-only centre on a Monday and the girls have really taken to it. I think they feel more comfortable and confident with female coaches so they are more responsive to me.”
The sessions are for girls aged 5-11. The Racecourse Foundation also runs a girls-only summer camp in a Flintshire School.
As part of the FAW and national team sponsor Vauxhall’s commitment to grassroots football, the Fun Football Programme has offered grants to several football programmes across Wales to develop and aid their own soccer schools. The accredited scheme is targeted at increasing participation in football for children of all abilities in a safe learning environment.The term “fun football” is recognised by UEFA and is endorsed as a grass roots development initiative.
Gemma said: “The girls really have very little or no exposure to the game of football so it’s all about the participation; I want to get the girls in, playing football and having fun whilst doing so. If the girls I coach want to go on and play regularly, then I’ve done my job. I speak to them and discuss whether they are already involved in a club; if not, I ensure we signpost them to correct mixed junior clubs or performance centres.”
The Racecourse Foundation received a grant from the Welsh Football Trust that has enabled them to spread their wings further. Gemma said: “The grant has meant we can go into more schools and focus completely on girls participation. My contact is increased with more children and more people who want to get involved.
Gemma, who started coaching hockey before turning her attention to football, is now studying for her FAW C certificate. Gemma said: “The Racecourse Foundation is funding my studies for the FAW C certificate. This will increase my knowledge and, in turn, benefit the players I work with. It’s fantastic that the Racecourse Foundation are funding me and I’m hugely grateful for it.”
Ian Gwyn Hughes, Head of Public Affairs at the FAW, said: “Following a fantastic season for Welsh football on many fronts, the summer represents a huge first as the first UEFA championships came to the country. The stars of that tournament all started somewhere and the emphasis of the Fun Football programme really is about encouraging more and more youngsters to get off the sofa and play football.
“The scheme offers them the opportunity to turn up and play and develop their skills in a creative and safe coaching environment.It’s crucial that we encourage these youngsters and nurture their talent, as they are the future football stars of our nation.”
Vauxhall Head of Sponsorship, Chris Hornbuckle said: “We are very excited about playing our part in the Fun Football Programme.
“From the beginning of our sponsorship we have been committed to supporting football from the grass roots through to the National senior team and it is vitally important for the future of the game in Wales that we support the young talent with such opportunities.”