England players past and present paid a surprise visit to a grassroots club in North Yorkshire to launch The FA’s new partnership with Nationwide Building Society to grow the Respect programme.
Nationwide have signed a three-year deal to help The FA ensure a positive and enjoyable football environment for young people by promoting mutual respect on and off the pitch.
Britain’s biggest building society is committed to investing in and improving communities across the UK, and hopes that it can use its position as a mutual organisation owned by its members and one of the UK’s largest financial services providers to enhance the Respect campaign.
The Respect campaign aims to advise parents and coaches on their roles in creating a fun, safe and inclusive environment for everyone. Respect codes of conduct are in place to ensure that everyone involved within an FA Charter Standard club or league is playing their part to give the players a positive experience.
Research from Nationwide shows that the UK is experiencing increased levels of disrespect, with 66 per cent of Brits saying levels have become unacceptable and 71 per cent feeling that the problem has got worse in the last two years. Nationwide has pledged to ensure that a million players, parents and coaches engage with the Respect programme over the next three years to help build a more mutually-respectful society in football.
The partnership is being announced at a time when we, by working with the Government, have been able to announce that a return to outdoor competitive grassroots football is now possible. However, this should only take place if accompanied by the introduction of hygiene and safety measures, which are in line with Government guidelines, to reduce the possibility of the transmission of COVID-19.
As a not-for-profit organisation, The FA relies on support from commercial partners to facilitate participation at every level. While the focus of this new partnership will be to increase levels of mutual respect within the game and wider society, it is hoped that the investment being made by Nationwide will be felt throughout grassroots football.
To help tackle the issue of abuse in society, 80 per cent of people believe those in the public eye are responsible for setting a good example in terms of being more respectful. Almost two thirds (63 per cent) of people believe footballers should set an example by showing respect on the pitch so, to kick off the partnership, England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and Three Lions legend John Barnes surprised a grassroots club who thought they were there for an FA Respect training session:
James Kendall, The FA’s director of football development, said of the new partnership: "Over the years, the Respect campaign has championed the importance of mutual respect on and off the football pitch most particularly amongst young people.
“We have worked hard to provide players with the guidance and confidence to act in this way; the same is true for parents, referees and the communities they play within.
“It is so good, then, that we can work with partners such as Nationwide who understand the positive impact football can have on society and share our determination to improve the game.
"As we restart the grassroots game it is important to take the opportunity to reaffirm the values that are crucial for the wellbeing of Football – Respect and anti-discrimination are core to that."
Sara Bennison, Nationwide's chief marketing officer, added: "2020 has not been the year any of us expected, [with] so much distress, but we have also had a sharp reminder of how dependent on each other we all are.
"Fostering greater mutual respect becomes more important than ever. The FA have demonstrated such a great commitment to this at a grassroots level and we are delighted to be able to help them expand their Respect programme."