Schools’ Football Week (SFW)

Schools’ Football Week (SFW) is an ongoing English Schools’ Football Association (ESFA) initiative designed as an opportunity for schools, teams, Associations, and clubs from across the country to embrace schools’ football and the wellbeing benefits it provides to pupils and players. It celebrates the importance of schools’ football, competitive or otherwise, to pupils across England and provides teachers and coaches with tools and a motivation to further discuss the benefits of schools’ football within their educational environment.

This year, the ESFA is delighted to announce a new partnership with Haier to support the Schools’ Football Week campaign and help to push the awareness, understanding and limits of the campaign further than has been previously possible.

The focus for Schools’ Football Week 2021 was to provide an opportunity for children to get outside, have fun and enjoy being able to play sport with their school friends, after so much time spent in lockdown. The ESFA is sticking to these principles for 2022, but with the schools’ football season in full swing for 21/22, the ESFA has received a record number of girls’ team entries and

with the Women’s EUROs taking place in 2022, SFW presents the perfect opportunity to focus in on highlighting and celebrating the continued growth of girls’ football.

The ESFA, in association with Haier, have been encouraging schools, Associations, clubs and teams to introduce some football-related activity into their environments throughout SFW. Early registration indications show that already, Schools’ Football Week 2022 is looking to be even better supported than it was in 2021 with –

· Over 120,000 pupils taking part in some type of Schools’ Football activity

· Over 46,000 girls will be included in activity

· Over 620 schools will be running girls’ specific activity as a result of the campaign

In addition to championing girls’ football this season, Schools’ Football Week is also focussing on:

· Celebrating the ESFA’s first ever draws for National Schools’ Cup quarter and semi-final matches on Monday 7 February

· Celebrating and promoting the Deaf Schools’ Finals, which take place on Tuesday 8 February

The campaign isn’t designed to focus on competitive football, but the wide-ranging benefits that being part of a team can have on school age children in England. For example, SFW aims to bring together opportunities for schools to bring football off the pitch and into classrooms, providing learning resources from other ESFA partners that can be useful tools to engage pupils in the wider world of football.

Mark Hignett, ESFA Chairman said “On behalf of the English Schools’ Football Association, I am delighted to welcome Haier on board for Schools’ Football Week. It is fantastic to see how this campaign has grown in popularity over the last few years and to now have the initiative backed by a worldwide brand is another positive step for our Association. There is so much activity happening out there, be it within schools, districts, counties or internationally and with it comes a diverse range of opportunities for a diverse range of children. We want to highlight all of the wonderful work that goes on in England to nurture these young players and help them to continue on their journey with football, wherever it may take them.

Antony Peart, Director of Brand and Communications UK and ROI at Haier said “We are pleased to have partnered with the ESFA. Their initiative is fantastic, helping and encouraging children to peruse healthy lifestyles, play football and enjoy team morale. At Haier we understand that 2020/21 was a very difficult time for all, which is one of the many reasons why we really wanted to support and work in partnership with an Association that can help bring sports and joy back into children’s daily routine.

Schools’ Football Week provides an opportunity to showcase the importance of schools’ football in England and February 2022 will provide the next instalment of this wonderful initiative. Children missed out on so many opportunities throughout 2020 and 2021 due to the global pandemic and the ESFA has seen, first hand, how much schools and associations had missed these opportunities to bring together children with a shared passion of football and all that it entails.

The ESFA and Haier will work together to create fantastic Schools’ Football Week opportunities in 2022.

The Importance of Schools’ Football Week:

· To share the value and importance of Schools’ Football across England

· To highlight the mental and physical health benefits of Schools’ Football

· To celebrate the return of Schools’ Football

· To further the profile of the English Schools’ FA and the activity they provide as the Governing Body for Schools’ Football in England

· To elevate and promote participation numbers, particularly of girls within schools’ football

· To showcase the talent and dedication shown by schools in England to support football as part of the curriculum