In December, 2011, Suffolk FA created the role of Social Inclusion Officer who is responsible on building on Suffolk FA's social inclusion work and create new initiatives to help more people play football.
In September, 2012, Suffolk FA plans to launch its Social Inclusion Strategy.
Ipswich Community League
The Ipswich Community League is aimed at encouraging hard to reach community groups in Ipswich to take up football.The aim behind the five-a-side project is to create a sustainable league which helps integrate diverse communities in Ipswich.
The aim is for 64 players to create 8 new 5v5 teams which leads to a regular bringing football to a largely untapped audience.It is being run in partnership with Goals Soccer Centre in Ipswich and alongside police and Safer Neighbourhood Teams. The initiative has received £2,130 from The FA’s Small Sided Development Fund and a further £3, 360 from Goals Soccer Centre.
Goals Soccer Centre will also provide qualified and affiliated referees as well as full and professional management of the league and it’s in house system – all within the cost.
Friday Night 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.”
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.