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FA urges people to ‘get out and play’

17:00 08 May 2014

The Essex FA are trying to encourage more people to play football

The Essex FA are trying to encourage more people to play football

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The Football Association have announced plans for a weekend of football celebrations starting on Friday June 6, with the nation being encouraged to get out and play football as excitement builds ahead of the World Cup in Brazil.

The weekend, which will be called ‘Reds v Blues’ - marking the classic team colours used most often in the nation’s favourite game - aims to inspire people of all ages and abilities to sign up and represent a red or blue team before playing football in whichever form they wish.

This could range from kickabouts in gardens to organised five-a-side and eleven-a-side matches.

Scores from all the games which take place will be combined to create an overall final score at the end of the day.

Former Arsenal, Birmingham City, Bolton Wanderers and England Under-21 international Fabrice Muamba will be joined by former semi-professional player, TV presenter and Heart FM radio host, Mark Wright, as team captains for the Reds and Blues - leading the drive for others to get involved.

The FA has teamed up with five-a-side providers Powerleague, PlayFootball and Goals to set up Reds v Blues tournaments, with fantastic prizes at stake in each centre.

On June 7, The FA is urging everyone who loves the game to hold their own Reds v Blues matches. It will be easy to pick a colour, pick up a ball and start to play!

The FA is also working with 50 County FAs, including Essex, to run activities on the Saturday. Flagship events include a beach football festival in Dorset - more than fitting against the backdrop of a World Cup in Brazil.

Taking place elsewhere will be a disability football showcase at St George’s Park, and an 11-a-side event in Liverpool.

Leading the drive will be 26-year-old Muamba, who has supported The FA’s grassroots work since his cardiac arrest on the pitch in November 2012 forced him to give up the game he had spent his life playing.

He said: “Football is a game I love but am no longer able to take part. It is really important for me to spread the word that people should cherish their opportunity to play.

“It doesn’t matter what your background is, football’s simple beauty is that anyone can get involved, wherever they are. I fully support The FA’s Reds v Blues campaign, especially with the excitement of the World Cup ramping up.

“It would be great to think of kids watching Steven Gerrard and the boys out in Brazil and then rushing outside to play themselves.”

Former The Only Way is Essex (TOWIE) star and England C footballer, Mark Wright, explained: “Football has always been one of the biggest passions in my life - from kickabouts with my mates to my days playing semi-professional for the likes of Bishop’s Stortford, Fisher Athletic and St Neots Town.

“With the FIFA World Cup taking place this summer, it’s the perfect opportunity for everyone to enjoy playing the nation’s favourite game.

“There is no better feeling than getting outside with friends or family and kicking a ball around for a few hours – its brilliant exercise and its great fun. So, I’m encouraging the whole nation to sign up for The FA’s Reds v Blues campaign and play football on June 7.”

FA chairman Greg Dyke added: “As someone who still plays football at 66 - when my legs allow it - I am proof anyone can get involved!

“The FA faces big challenges to keep people playing and we are stepping up our work on the facilities and coaching side. But let’s not forget the most important thing is to get a ball, find some mates and just have a go.

“Reds v Blues will be the perfect time to do just that - especially with excitement building towards the World Cup in Brazil.

“We have 400,000 volunteers up and down the country who give their life to football week in, week out and millions playing, but we know there are many others who love the game and could still play.

“There are fans who have forgotten that thrill of scoring a goal or making a tackle, and who could get so much out of taking part. Football brings people together, encourages healthy living and is, above all, fun. Everyone should join in with the nation’s favourite game.”

For more details, visit www.thefa.com/lovefootball.

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