Key insights from grassroots football consultation

We reveal key insights from our grassroots football consultation after hundreds shared their views.

As we look to shape the future of grassroots football in the Sheffield and Hallamshire region, we invited various stakeholders from across the game to voice their views.

From November to January, we held an online survey as well as face-to-face roadshows in Sheffield, Barnsley, and Doncaster. The consultation tackled a range of themes, from behaviour to participation.

Over 400 individuals had their say, from players, coaches and referees to volunteers, parents and supporters. Their collective insights have shed light on crucial aspects of grassroots football and provided valuable directions for improvement as we finalise our 2024-2028 business strategy.

So, what were the key findings and suggestions?


Motivations: Referees are driven by a desire to maintain physical health, contribute to the sport they love, and seek opportunities for personal development within the officiating community.

Improvement Areas: To create a more a positive officiating environment, referees would like to see improved behaviour of managers, coaches, and spectators, along with continued support from the County FA.

Club and League Officials

Motivations: Volunteers get involved in running clubs and leagues to give back to the game, support their children's involvement, and utilise their existing skills to benefit grassroots football programs.

Improvement Areas: Improving the conduct of managers, coaches, and spectators, along with providing adequate support from County FA, are crucial for enhancing the volunteering experience.

Team Officials

Motivations: Again, wanting to give back to the game, support their children, and learn new skills is what motivated grassroots coaches.

Improvement Areas: Like club and league officials, coaches emphasised the importance of improving the behaviour of managers, coaches, and ensuring opportunities for learning and development, supported by the County FA.


Motivations: Parents told us that their children love to play football to improve their physical health, make new friends, and grow in confidence. This was also reflected by players themselves.

Improvement Areas: Parents feel that enhancing the quality of coaching and facilities, as well as promoting positive behaviour from managers and coaches, are all essential for improving children's football experience.

Behavioural Insights

On the Pitch: Overall behaviour on the pitch was rated moderately, with players' behaviour towards referees emerging as a significant concern.

Off the Pitch: Spectators' behaviour towards referees was identified as the most problematic, consistently rated extremely poor, highlighting the need for immediate attention.

How do we move forwards?

Our roadshow events delved into ideas and solutions to address some of the challenges that grassroots football faces. 

Time constraints and the need for a supportive environment were identified as barriers for volunteers. Some solutions suggested included community engagement, providing workshops, and clarifying roles. Concerns were also raised about attracting and retaining volunteers, with skills matching, training, and promoting volunteer appreciation all helpful suggestions.

To support our ‘clubs of the future’, funding constraints, poor governance, and lack of leadership were highlighted as potential barriers. To overcome these, solutions put forwards were things like

establishing the right club structures, building connections, fundraising training, sharing best practices, and enhancing communication channels.

The overwhelming response to the consultation demonstrates a collective commitment to improving grassroots football experiences.

We’re driven by the communities we serve and our 2024-2028 strategy will focus on the people who deliver grassroots football on and off the pitch. Your voices have been heard, and your contributions valued in steering the future of local football.