Northumbria University will be at the forefront of football development in the community after landing a top award from the Football Association.
One of the UK’s leading sport universities is now officially recognised as an FA ‘Super Hub’ – one of only 15 institutions nationwide to be accredited.
And Northumbria will host a dedicated Football Development Officer to bring students, staff and the local community closer together under the umbrella of the beautiful game.
“This is fantastic news and I’m absolutely delighted,” said Northumbria University’s Director of Sport, Colin Stromsoy.
“The Super Hub accreditation will impact right across the university and beyond. We are very proud of our position within the North East’s football community and we are committed to increasing participation at every level.”
Northumbria’s Football Development Officer will be tasked with overseeing campus competition and engaging students.
The new role will also involve creating partnerships with the local community to join the pathway from youth player to adult - addressing falling participation rates through targeted work within primary schools, secondary schools and Further Education Colleges.
BUCS Chief Executive Vince Mayne welcomed The FA’s investment into Higher Education and said: “With the increase in the competitive landscape of Higher Education, sport's challenge is to deliver against university business objectives such as student recruitment, experience and employability and the broader social objectives of citizenship and community engagement.
“This direct investment from the FA will help institutions to embed a relevant football offer in partnership with their local community - making football more accessible for students, staff and the general public.”
FA Director of Participation and Development, Kelly Simmons MBE, hopes the university hubs will give more students the opportunity to follow her pathway into the sport. Simmons captained The University of Warwick women’s football team and became the university’s sports sabbatical officer.
“Universities have been playing a key role in supporting The Football Association to get as many boys and girls as possible to play football and to give them a good introduction to the game,” she dsaid.
“The Higher Education sector has contributed through the hubs by creating an environment that enables players to develop.
“Flexible playing opportunities for young people to access football now exist and at the same time there is a growing network of highly motivated, qualified student coaches.
“This is why The Football Association is increasing investment into the Higher Education sector and is aiming to increase the number of University Football Hubs for 2016/2017.”
Mike Diaper, Sport England’s Executive Director for Community Sport, added: “The University Community Football Hub model encourages universities to work with their local communities, bringing students and staff closer to the people around them.
“It’s encouraged universities to try new ways of supporting local young people to get active and help move them into more regular activity.
“A recent survey of young people attending University Hubs showed that 60% said they wanted to play football more often and to remain active. The foundations of this model are firmly rooted in collaborative working between schools, colleges, universities and community clubs.”