Future of South Norfolk Sunday Football League in doubt as player numbers decline
PUBLISHED: 08:30 30 January 2014 | UPDATED: 17:59 30 January 2014
It was once a thriving game that was played on village greens across South Norfolk every Sunday, where players made life-long friends and residents turned out to support their teams come rain or shine.
But today, the South Norfolk Sunday Football League - which once boasted 52 teams in four divisions - is a shadow of its former self, with just a single league and six teams to its name.
Ray Collings, the league’s secretary, fears the decline will get worse - unless more players can commit the time to the beautiful game.
“Football is in decline in the adult game, with Sunday leagues the hardest hit,” he said.
“Many reasons have been put forward, with the lack of player commitment coming out on top.
“As lifestyles change and there is a wider choice of things to do, clubs struggle to find the necessary finance to keep going.”
Part of the problem, he said, is that “football has to make itself more attractive” - especially to youngsters.
“Youth football continues to flourish but on reaching the age of 14, there is a dramatic drop in numbers,” the 69-year-old said. “They are fed up of listening to adults bawling at them from the touch-line, turning up for training to find there is the same routine every week.”
Despite the troubles, Mr Collings said the Sunday league makes a vital contribution to the community.
“If I was able to play, I would,” he said. “The majority of my friends have been made through sport. There is a great comradeship - but that is something that’s gone by the wayside.”
League chairman Trevor Cobb added: “You still need players to turn up and that is the hardest hurdle to overcome.
“An answer has to be found otherwise grassroots football and the Sunday league will cease to exist and the game will lost.
“Your help is needed.”
Those interested in starting a team should contact Mr Collings on 01379 676702.