2017 was the year that our organisation was formed and New Year’s Eve seems like a good time to share a little more about why the Football Fun Factory was created, where we are heading are and what opportunities we will have to offer children across the region going forwards into 2018.
It is my personal opinion that the primary focus in sport should be enjoyment. Playing football, or indeed any sport, brings so many benefits to children and our organisation is designed to focus the attention of both parents and children on FUN. We have three words that are guiding principles in everything we do.. ‘Innovate. Educate. Inspire’, and our ambition is therefore to provide opportunities for children to participate in innovative, educational and inspirational activities and experiences that positively shape their sporting participation into their adult lives. With us kids will experience new things, learn along the way and have a great time!
Our unique concept is that our highly qualified professional coaches deliver these fun and exciting activities and build in educational themes. An example of this would be our FootBowling activity. For those that haven’t seen it this is giant inflatable bowling pins that children aim to knock over... by kicking a ball at them of course! When playing FootBowl children work on their passing accuracy and power. FootDarts is another example. This helps children learn the lofted pass and teaches them to strike underneath the ball to make it go up in the air... whilst absolutely loving the game they are playing! However whilst football development is a given, we focus place a big focus on child development. At our courses we educate the children on important topics like nutrition, hydration, sportsmanship, fair play and the importance of teamwork. Sport is so well positioned to help educate young people and is often the ‘hook’ that you need the engage them in conversations about such topics.
Having enjoyed close to a decade working for a professional football club I made the big decision to move on in the early part of 2017. Part of this decision was due to ending up in a role that did not fulfil my passion, moving away from football development and into a business focussed role. Whilst one of my passions is football, by far my greatest energy comes from helping young people make their way in the world through sport. I love to see the development that children benefit from when playing the game, both as footballers and as young citizens of our community. I took an amazing job away from football and have loved every minute of it, but when you feel like you have the gift to create memories and positively influence the lives of young people, its hard not to want to move back into youth development. To this end, the Football Fun Factory was born!
We started with a taster session in the summer, designed to try out some of our games, get feedback on our concept from parents and children and gain interest in what we are doing. We then delivered our first course in October Half Term when 30 kids joined us at Cambridge Regional College. 30 became 50 for our 3-day Christmas course and this February we are running two 5-day courses at both CRC and Netherhall School in Cambridge.
Our first evening session kicked off at Red Lodge Sports Pavilion in September. 15 children joined us for an hour of fun-based technical training. Our ‘Friday Night Football’ session offers a more structured approach than the school holiday courses but maintains our overall emphasis on fun and enjoyment. The children work on a different topic each week such as dribbling, passing or shooting, but through fun games and activities. We have just completed our second term at Red Lodge with 35 children and are looking forward to term 3 in January. Our new location for evening coaching sessions is Netherhall School in Cambridge and I look forward to meeting the children next week at ‘Thursday Night Football’!
So we’ve gradually grown our activities, but where are we heading? Our aim is to make the Football Fun Factory accessible to all across the region. We plan on opening more venues in school holidays, more evening coaching courses and our programme for children from 3 years+ on Saturday mornings starts in a few weeks time. We aim to support grassroots clubs. We have already been working with Oakington Vikings under 5’s, 6’s and 7’s as well as Waterbeach under 9’s and as our organisation grows and develops we feel compelled to work closely with local teams to spread our message that whilst the kids (and parents!) are very much interested in the result on Saturday, they shouldn’t forget to enjoy the fun and enjoyment that football brings and that it was the reason that they got involved in the first place.
We will grow gradually and sustainably. We will add more exciting games and activities. We will ensure the high level of coaching we offer is maintained and developed. We will more than play our role within the community. And here’s the big one....we will create experiences that inspire a generation of young children throughout Cambridgeshire to grow up loving football, associating the game with fun and enjoyment, which positively shapes their participation in sport for the rest of their lives.
2018 is going to be a big year for the Football Fun Factory. Thank you for the support that you have given us so far. Please help us spread our message by telling people about us, liking and sharing our social media posts and encouraging others to attend. We’ve got some big aims, we need people like you to help us along the journey and in return we’ll give your child amazing experiences that they will always remember.
Happy New Year!
Football Fun Factory