Get Inspired: How to get into Football
|Why get into football?||Simple yet endlessly exciting and dramatic, it's the most popular sport in the world for a very good reason!|
|Who is it for?||Whatever your age, ability or fitness level, there is a type of football suitable for you.|
|Is there a cheap option?||All you really need to play 'The Beautiful Game' is a football. Kick around on your own or with friends.|
|What if I want a proper workout?||Joining a weekly 5 or 11 a side game increases your fitness and improves your game. Plus it's a good way to see your mates.|
|Can I take it to another level?||There are leagues galore and it's very competitive, with professional clubs recruiting players as young as seven.|
|Is there a disability option?||National Associations across Britain are increasingly pro-active in providing disability football options.|
|Is there a family option?||Family Fun Days run throughout the year to encourage families to take part in football-related activities.|
Football is a phenomenon. Hundreds of millions of people across the globe live and breathe it, playing it with their friends and watching their heroes at a local stadium or on TV. But the UK is not just watching it, they are playing it too - in fact, five million people pull on their boots every week across the country. Thousands of football grassroots training schemes take place each year in parks, sport centres, schools, universities, gyms and colleges. Find somewhere to play locally by checking the Football Association club finders in England,Scotland,Wales and Northern Ireland.
Football provides a truly extensive variety of physical exercise. Players run, kick, dodge, sprint and jump, and constantly twisting and turning your body increases endurance, promotes agility and develops physical coordination. Football also promotes teamwork on and off the pitch, as many teams socialise together. It's a simple, fast-moving and exciting team game which showcases amazing skill, agility and athleticism.
Unlike other sports, a casual game of football is incredibly easy to set up. All that is needed is a ball, makeshift goals and varying numbers of competing players. Get together in a park, field, on the beach, a school playground or even on a quiet street and get active!
If fast, competitive, small-sided and skilful football is your thing then five-a-side is for you. It's a great way of getting an intense 'after work' work-out with a bunch of friends. And despite the official name it's often played by 4 or 7 players a side, so however many of you there are you can still get involved. There are hundreds of FA accredited centres across the country, so get some friends together and get playing! If you live elsewhere in the country then contact your local club to get started.
This is the beating heart of grassroots football across the land. Come Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning, Britain is alive with cheers from wide open spaces (like the famous Hackney Marshes) as men and women battle for goals. The bonds made while playing and competing in a league can be incredibly strong - some players are friends for life after representing the same team for a number of years. Plus, you'll be as fit as a fiddle. Players remain in constant motion, running roughly five miles in a 90-minute game (which burns nearly 1000 calories). Local football clubs also offer a variety of social events outside of game play.
To get involved, contact the schemes and clubs in your area by checking the websites of the Irish FA, Scottish FA,Welsh FA and English FA. There is also a Creating Chances scheme in England, and Football Fun Days in Wales.
Most people catch the football bug when they are young, and remain bitten for life. The popularity of football across the UK means that there are an ever-growing range of programmes and schemes for kids to get involved with football. Getting started early means that your football skills will come more naturally and be deeply embedded over the years. So, in Wales, find out more about the Mini Football scheme. In Scotland there are schemes for both primary-aged school children and secondary. Find out about the Small Sided Games strategy in Northern Ireland, and the FA Skills scheme in England. UK Wide, Street League is an organisation that helps young people from disadvantaged backgrounds through the power of football.
Want to work on your technical ability in a high pressured, intense five-a-side environment? Of course you do! Futsal is the perfect transitional game between traditional five-a-side and 11-a-side. It differs significantly from the five-a-side games, with heavier balls, a five-foul limit, time-outs per half and the fact matches are played within confines of lines. Quick decision making is key, and with short bursts of high speed movement, the health benefits are fantastic. Even stars such as Christiano Ronaldo, Xavi and Fabregras have used Futsal as a way to keep in shape. The sport is recognised by the FA, so visit your regional FA website (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland) for more information on how to get started.
With 1.4 million women and girls playing football, there's no doubt that it's the nation's most popular female team participation sport. Around the UK there are schemes designed to help girls get into football - from grassroots to the professional game - as well as routes into coaching. Each Football Association across the country has information specifically to encourage women to play so get contacting in Scotland,Wales,Northern Ireland and England.
If you thought your football career was over, think again! Walking Football a slow-paced version of the beautiful game aimed at the over 50s. Walking Football is designed to help people keep an active lifestyle despite their age, as well as getting those back playing football who had to stop due to injuries. The game is gaining momentum but is still not quite mainstream so to find a way to get involved contact the Football association in your area. The Get Inspired Activity Finder is another good place to start.
Disability football is well served across Britain, with a host of different opportunities for different groups of people. The English FA's Disability Talent Programme is designed to produce football excellence as well as personal development. The Wales Football Trust have a dedicated Disability Co-ordinator to deliver a fully inclusive programme. Likewise, the Scottish and Irish Football Associations aim to ensure that disabled people have the chance to take part fully and fulfil their potential.
Anyone can get into freestyle football - all you need is a ball! It is the art and sport of juggling a football using all parts of the body to entertain audiences and outperform opponents in competitions. You can find out more through the Freestyle Football Federation.
Coaching and volunteering
Whether you have played in the past or just have a keen interest in developing talent, coaching opportunities are available through the Football Association in Northern Ireland,England,Scotland and Wales. You can also try Sports Coach UK for coaching opportunities. Or use your skills to help a local club - find out about volunteering opportunities in Scotland,Wales,England and Northern Ireland.Join In UK can also help you find a club that needs your hands on attention.
Aspire to be like: Fara Williams
1. Go to our Activity Finder to get into football near you.
3. Share your story and inspire others!
Are you inspired to try football? Or maybe you are an expert player already? Get in touch and tell us your experience of the game by tweeting us on @bbcgetinspired, visiting us on Facebook or email us on email@example.com.
See our full list of activity guides for more inspiration.