The FA and Mars light up Wembley Stadium to celebrate reaching one million attendances at Just Play sessions. The grassroots football initiative has reached its goal a year ahead of its 2018 target. Today, The FA Mars Just Play programme celebrates reaching one million attendances at Just Play sessions across the country.To mark the achievement, the Wembley Arch was lit up in official Mars red and a select group of Just Play players were treated to an exclusive tour of the stadium in the company of FA Participation and Development Director Kelly Simmons and England legend Graeme Le Saux.
Since launching in 2011, The FA Mars Just Play initiative has established itself as the biggest and fastest-growing programme to encourage adults to get active and play football. With more than 300 Just Play Centres nationwide providing players with fun, flexible formats of play, as well as access to facilities and over 500 FA-accredited organisers, The FA Mars Just Play programme enables players of all abilities to take part in casual football at a time that suits them.
England legend, Graeme Le Saux, said: “It was great to spend time with some of the players from around the country who have benefited from Just Play.
“Everyone understands how important grassroots football is to the national game and it was heart-warming to talk the some of the players and hear first-hand the benefits – both physical and social – that they have felt because of the initiative.”
Kelly Simmons, FA Participation and Development Director, said: “To reach this landmark one year ahead of schedule is a fantastic achievement and highlights the enduring popularity of the Just Play initiative in local communities throughout the country.
“Over the past five years of Just Play, we have seen numerous examples of the positive impact that football can have on people’s lives and we are thrilled that so many people continue to benefit from the programme.”
Blas Maquivar, President - Mars Chocolate UK, said: “We are extremely proud of what Mars and The FA have achieved together through Just Play. The programme’s accessible, flexible ethos really resonates with people and we’re thrilled to have reached our target of one million attendances at Just Play sessions a year earlier than planned.
“We’re always humbled to see the impact of this grassroots football programme on players of all abilities and their communities and we hope to encourage even more people to give it a try”.
The 2017 FA Mars Just Play Awards, which will celebrate the achievements of Just Play centres, teams and players across the country, will take place at St George’s Park, the official training ground of the England National Football team, this summer.
To find your local Just Play session, please click here