Nike Football

Results Are In - Returning to Play Youth Consultation

Discover the findings of our Youth Leadership Team's Returning to Play consultation.

In partnership with our Youth Leadership Team, Oxfordshire FA are excited to reveal the findings of our ‘Returning to Play’ Consultation that sought the views of Children and Young People aged 6-21 across the county 

Returning to Play is the first part of our youth consultation initiative, where we will be regularly seeking the views of our young players, coaches, officials and supporters to help make continuous positive improvements for young people’s involvement in the game.

It is extremely important that we get the views of young people and that these are at the heart of future decisions made to further improve the game in Oxfordshire.

The aim of this first consultation was to understand what young people in Oxfordshire currently enjoy about the game and how we can help make their football experience better for their return to play following lockdown and for the future.

In total, 241 young people representing 45 clubs across the county participated in the study which was a great base to start with and something we hope to build on for future consultations.

With respondents spilt into three age categories the consultation looked at six areas; enjoyment and reasons why, potential changes they would like to see, barriers to participation, the future, volunteering and safeguarding.

There were a range of key themes that emerged from the research. The main theme was the importance young people placed on setting the right environment and having positive behaviour when thinking about their want to return and continue playing. This was consistent throughout the age groups.

Another common theme, particularly in the Mini Soccer (U7-U11) and Youth (U12-U16) age groups, was the want to play more football with a focus on fun, social and engaging training sessions. The older age groups also expressed the importance of fun and team spirit was something they missed and would keep them playing.

The findings also showed that only 37% of respondents aged 12-21 knew who their Club Welfare Officer was and that only 5.39% across all age groups would report concerns to them.

We would like to give a huge thank you to everyone who took part and we hope you continue to do so in the future.

After each consultation, we commit to implementing the findings through a series of ‘you said, we will’ objectives. We will regularly update you with progress across these areas via our website and social media.

Following our #1 Returning to Play consultation, we WILL:

1. Present the findings to our youth leagues and Oxfordshire FA Board
2. Utilise findings to help shape our new 2021-24 Strategy and 2021-22 Operational Plan 
3. Work closely with clubs, leagues & grassroots coaches to improve the environment on match days by improving and promoting positive behaviour via a new county-wide Respect initiative.
4. Deliver pre-season training to grassroots coaches that will support them to create a positive environment and deliver fun, engaging and age appropriate training sessions that will keep players enjoying their football
5. Help keep young people safe by working collaboratively with clubs and leagues to raise the profile of ‘Club Welfare Officers’ and the process of reporting safeguarding concerns

The full report can be downloaded here

What’s next?

Early in the new season, we will be launching Youth Consultation #2 that will focus on 16-24-year olds. The aim of this will be to find out how we can support this age group to stay in the game and transition into participating in adult football. 

If you have any questions regarding the report or our work with young people in general, please get in touch with Michael Thurlow, Football Development Manager via