In November 2010 James Payne was appointed as Ipswich's Get Into Football Officer with the specific remit to increase adult participation in football.
The work programme of the Get into Football Officer will involve traditional footballing formats such as 11v11, whilst at the same time creating opportunties in flexible formats and at times that suit the needs of potential participants.
The priorities for the Ipswich & District area reflect Suffolk FA's countywide priorities which are:
- Tackling abusive behaviour
- Improving facilities
- Supporting leagues and clubs
Marketing and communication of existing work in these areas must be improved to challenge and improve customer perception, this is of vital importance in the Ipswich area as it represents the largest area of Suffolk in terms of population and reflects the density of leagues operating in the county.
The specific challenges facing Suffolk FA in Ipswich are:
- Developing club structures to provide sustainable pathways for players from mini-soccer to adult football
- Increase the number of Charter Standard clubs in the district
- Increase participation in the 16+ category (610 new players in the three year project)
- Work with Further Education and Higher Education institutions to increase playing and volunteering numbers
- Develop additional partnerships to add to existing Sport Unlimited and Active Wellbeing programmes
- Engage with all communities in Ipswich to integrate minority groups into affiliated football
The opportunties provided by the programme are:
- Develop a support programme for Youth & Adult Leagues
- Extend Inter-Firm Cup to increase adult male participation
- Produce a plan to develop coaches and coaching in the district to meet the needs of the local clubs and leagues
- Improve customer service and perception of Suffolk FA by establishing a district forum in Ipswich
- Build partnerships with comercial small-sided providers to increase small-sided participation
- Establish effective Club Links programme to assist transfer from education
- Deliver a plan to develop Girls' & Women's football in the district
- Build on positive relationship with Ipswich Town CT to develop disability football
The Get into Football Ipswich programme shall be overseen by a Steering Group consisting of Suffolk FA, Suffolk Sport, Ipswich Borough Council & Ipswich Town Community Trust.
Quarterly progress shall be reported to The FA and the Steering Group, and shall be communicated to the stakeholders in Ipswich through the Suffolk FA communciation channels.
The Friday Night Football Project
The Friday Night Football Project has formed as a partnership between Suffolk FA, the local Safer Neighbourhood Teams (SNT) and Ipswich Borough Council to tackle anti-social behaviour in areas of Ipswich.
The project provides a fortnightly hour of free football to young adults who have been identified by the SNT as having participated in or likely to participate in anti-social behaviour.
The emphasis of the sessions is turn up and play, with the group organising and running their own games throughout the sessions.
North West Ipswich piloted the scheme in June 2011, with the SNT at South West and South East now running the sessions to engage with young adults in their respective areas of Whitton and Chantry.
One of the Friday Night Project’s major successes is its link to a decrease in anti-social behaviour in Ipswich. Police figures show that since the project started in June 2011, anti-social behaviour has fallen 16% in accordance with the same period the previous year. The police are hoping to double that figure next year.
In March 2012 there was a challenge match between the two projects in Whitton and Chantry held at Whitton United FC. The invited dignitaries included Dr Dan Poulter MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich.
In May 2012 the Friday Night Project was named as the best Suffolk Olympic legacy project in the East of England at a special event held at Whitton Sports and Community Centre. Faye White, Arsenal and England Women's Captain, who is a Sportivate Sporting Champion, and Adam Rigalsford, Sport England's Strategic Lead presented James Payne, Suffolk FA Get Into Football Officer (Ipswich), with the award.
Faye White said: "This is a fantastic social inclusion project which breaks down those barriers which can exist and gives young people skills such as team building and commitment that you get from playing a sport like football.
I would definitely recommend that there should be more projects like the Friday Night Project because initiatives such as these can make such a positive difference to young people’s lives.”
A month later the Friday Night Project finished third in a Sportivate national award. James Payne was invited to collect an award on behalf of Suffolk FA from Sport and Olympic Minister, Hugh Robertson, at a special event at the House of Commons in Westminster.
The project finished in third place behind a dance group in Cumbria which revealed a lack of inclusion opportunities for young people with learning difficulties such as autism and a rowing project in Buckinghamshire which has worked with local schools, colleges, young offender institutions and groups supporting young disabled people.
James Payne, Suffolk FA Get Into Football Officer (Ipswich), said: “For the Friday Night Project to be recognised nationally is absolutely fantastic. The project has been a huge success and I hope it continues to go from strength to strength.”
Phil Knight, Suffolk FA Chief Executive, added: “This type of project embodies what County Football Associations are all about and to receive national recognition is a wonderful achievement for all who have been involved.
“By providing opportunities for young people to play football they have not only learnt skills which will help them on the football pitch but also in life. Social inclusion is such an important aspect of the work County Football Associations should carry out so I’m delighted with the success this project has had.”
Mr Robertson said: “Congratulations to all those involved with the Friday Night Project whose hard work has been recognised with a Sportivate award. They are encouraging young people in Suffolk to get involved in sport and I hope they can build on this success in the future.”
The project was also extended to Gainsborough in June, 2012. A new session takes place at Gainsborough Sports Centre in Ipswich.
Suffolk FA and Babergh District Council are looking at setting up a similar project in Sudbury.
Kick Yourself Fit
Kick Yourself Fit (KYF) is a Football / Fitness initiative launched through the Get into Football Programme in January 2011.
KYF ran every Monday (5.30-6.30pm) at the Goals Soccer Centre in Ipswich at a minimal cost to its participants, providing a fun and safe hour of recreation.
Operating until August 2011, the sessions were attended by over 40 different ladies, with an average of 12 attending each week.
From Monday 5th September, the KYF initiative will fall under the umbrella of an FA Mars Just Play Centre which will be launched at Goals Ipswich. The sessions remain 5.30-6.30pm and cost just £2 per week