School Sport Survey: How we did it - FAW Trust

Sports:

Football

Location:

Wales

There are more children playing the game than ever before. And throw heroes like Bale and Fishlock into the mix and the future of Welsh football looks pretty good indeed.

But at the heart of this success story is data.

Yet number crunching can often be difficult - never mind turning reams of figures into something impactful. But that's exactly what the FAW Trust did - and here's how….

Before the survey…

We have always been able to clock the number of people signed up to clubs and paying their weekly subs. But it has been a much harder task to capture the numbers of those throwing down jumpers as goalposts, playing in their school lunch-hour, in the park or with their friends in a five-a-side game. Put simply, the big missing jigsaw piece was the evidence behind the informal game.

Getting measured up…

Back in 2015, before the results came out, we sat down as a team to look at the survey and the evidence it was set to gather. We'd never been able to measure the participation that lay outside of the registered game before but the survey allowed us to do just that.

The team - together with key partners and the Area Associations - decided on a target of 50% of children playing football at least once a week by 2024.

Targets were also broken down by area.

And the survey says…

When the survey results were unveiled, it gave us the evidence we needed to invest further into informal programmes. We had a gut feeling around how the game was developing but the survey defined our thinking.

We were able to showcase the results to the board which helped us to explain why we shouldn't just be working within the traditional, formal structures of the game.

The survey also revealed that there is a huge demand for football.

Use the numbers…

You must use the numbers to inform your work. Off the back of the 2015 survey results, we developed three brand new programmes:

Lidl Play More Footballhas been designed to not only support the growth of the informal game within schools but also the development of the next generation's workforce. It trains pupils to become Directors of Football so they can arrange extra-curricular activity for their peers.

Beatballleans on the popularity of dance to encourage girls who may otherwise never try football to play.

AndCics Cymruis funded by the Premier League and the Welsh Government and invests in clubs to develop community hubs. Again, the focus is on young people who are not yet members of clubs.

The survey helped us to understand the impact we could make; it means you don't have to pluck figures or targets out of the air. It helped us understand where the biggest pockets of activity were, what the children wanted to do and where the biggest demands were.

And looking ahead to the next survey…

The aim is to feed the informal players into clubs to grow the game further. Of course, we know that not all children will want to join a club but we hope a great deal will.

It will be interesting to see if the trend for informal football has grown or whether we are beginning to now see an increased migration to clubs.