Date: 24th April 2021
Below you will find a letter that has been sent to the Scottish government, written by SFSA Board Director and former First Minister Henry McLeish. This letter was sent to the leaders of all Scottish political parties.
Rt Hon Nicola Sturgeon MSP
23rd March 2021
As you know our organisation has always been about representing the people in Scotland who love football and who often are overlooked when the big decisions are made about the future of our game. It’s counter-intuitive that one of the largest constituencies of football devotees, who have the most to gain from our sport and also the most to lose from it being withdrawn, have not been well-represented. The grassroots youth sector sees hundreds of thousands of young players regularly playing football for thousands of volunteer-run youth clubs. Factoring in their wider spheres of influence among coaches, family members, community contacts and educators the network must rank as one of the must-underutilised ‘forces for good’ in our country.
With the physical and mental health impacts of removing of community sport during lockdown having a disproportionate effects on our young people, the importance of a long-term recovery plan couldn’t be higher. A campaign, started by one of Scotland’s largest community clubs Giffnock Soccer Centre, calling for a clear plan to trigger the recovery for grassroots football through Summer football has garnered widespread support from other clubs across the country. You can view its Open Letter and responses from The Scottish Football Association and Scottish Youth Football Association here https://bit.ly/GSCOpenletter . While the Governing Bodies are supportive of the concept they cite a range of barriers, including facilities and player insurance, as reasons this lifeline for the game may not be possible. The SFSA supports those within community football calling for a collaborative, practical and transparent plan for Summer football this year. The Scottish Government needs to step-up to ensure that facilities across Scotland’s 32 local authorities are made available and that financial support is made available to support this and any other infrastructure investment required. We are concerned there is ‘buck passing’ happening at present and what is required is a clear lead agency who can supply an action plan that ensures no region of Scotland is left behind and we reach all players, especially those who suffer social isolation.
The window of opportunity to deliver this at scale this Summer is closing. We look forward to your response on how we can all work together to achieve this by bringing all our football communities together.
Henry McLeish Board Director
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