Football: New GFA scheme gives opportunity for a kick-about

Gazette Series: A kick-about at Oaklands Park in Almondsbury (2818422) A kick-about at Oaklands Park in Almondsbury (2818422)

THE Gloucestershire Football Association is offering office workers and others the perfect antidote to lunchtime lethargy – an informal kick-about!

Businesses and members of the local community are already taking part in the scheme, which is part of the FA’s popular Mars Just Play initiative encouraging casual footballers of all ages, abilities and backgrounds to partake in organised no-strings soccer activity across the country.

Through its brand-new football centre at Oaklands Park in Almondsbury, which comprises a 3G artificial community pitch, the Gloucestershire FA (GFA) has already attracted several local workers from nearby Aztec West Business Park to its facility on Tuesdays between 1pm and 2pm for some small-sided games.

A similar opportunity is available for students and the public at large at UWE, with football activity offered on Fridays (4.30-5.30pm) and Saturdays (5.30-6.30pm). The Frenchay campus also offers free-of-charge women-only football in tandem with Bristol Rovers Community Trust on Tuesdays (4-5pm) and Saturdays (6.30-7.30pm).

Sessions too are staged at St Bede’s Catholic College at Lawrence Weston between midday and 2pm on Saturdays, for 16 to 21-year-olds, and Sundays (11am-noon), for the aspiring over 30s. The pay-as-you-play costs vary between £2 and £3.

GFA football development officer Joe Goulding welcomed the county’s part in attracting business people and community members back into football in a more relaxed environment.

He explained: “The great thing about the Just Play initiative is that people can just turn up and play recreational football. They might, for whatever reason, prefer not to play league football at weekends or be committed to training for clubs during the week.

“Instead they might just feel like having a kick-about in their lunchtimes or after work and these centres are perfect for that as you just turn up, pay and play. It’s great for people who maybe haven’t played in a while and are a bit uncertain about their fitness and form.

“As a county association we can also provide advice for people who may want to get involved in more competitive football, whether it is the standard 11-a-side format, seven-a-side, girls’ and women’s leagues or veterans leagues.

“The GFA started off by advertising these hour-long sessions to businesses just down the road at Aztec West and we’re hoping the idea continues to snowball.”

Full details of all the soccer sessions in the area, including the growing sport of Futsal which is on offer at both UWE and St Bede’s, can be found at www.gloucestershirefa.com/play/mars-just-play

More information about the Just Play initiative, which has produced 400 centres nationally since the programme was launched in 2011, is available at www.thefa.com/my-football/justplay where you can quickly and simply find out where your nearest centre is located.

More information can also be obtained by calling Joe Goulding on 01454 615888 or emailing him at joe.goulding@gloucestershirefa.com

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