The Kick-Start project, supported by IFAF, the global Governing Body for the sport, will give young people around the country the chance to play football by providing a series of start-up activities with an equipment loan, thereby reducing one of the principle access barriers to the sport and also addressing the issue of retention.
Jim Messenger, BAFA Board member and lead-director for the Kick-Start Programme said: ‘We would like to thank all parties involved with the fourteen applications received. These came from as far apart as Cornwall, Kent and the North-East. After considering all the applications in detail, we have selected the seven we adjudged to be the strongest to receive the loan of equipment. Although we do not have the resources at present to provide equipment to the other seven, we will maintain contact and assist with their development where we can.'
The projects which the Kick-Start programme will support include projects run by the Leicester Falcons, the Maidstone Pumas, the University of Birmingham Lions, Prudhoe High School, the Preston Panthers (a new part of the Lancashire Academy programme), and the Cornish Sharks.
Speaking about the receipt of support, a representative from the Lions said, ‘The University of Birmingham Lions Youth development programme was written around 5 to 6 years ago. Due to funding limitations and management capacity the programme was always held back. With the Kick-Start support and a more developed management and coaching structure, we now have the base to deliver a youth football programme in the centre of Birmingham around the strong base at the University’.
The successful bid from the Leicester Falcons means that the Falcons now offer one of the most comprehensive football programmes in the country. The Falcons senior and junior teams are complemented by a university programme and now the Kick-Start supported youth programme.