The future on the league is in serious jeopardy due to a marked decline in interest by players signing up for the season and organizers are expressing concern about how to mitigate the potential impact of the deteriorating numbers.
The football league was once so very popular among local residents and the game thrived in the area. It was not an unfamiliar sight to see the village greens teaming with enthusiasts all across South Norfolk every single Sunday. In addition to players, families and friends were also on hand to cheer on the players and the league enjoyed an enthusiastic following for many years. Players formed bonds with other players, supporters and organizers that extended far beyond the pitch and regardless of the weather, everyone was delighted to come out and spend the afternoon engage in the spirit of health and competition.
This year, however, the league exists merely as a weak shadow of its former strength. When at one time it was home to fifty two teams with four separate divisions being played on numerous pitches, the sign up this year showed only enough support to create a single league with only six teams to play against each other.
The league’s secretary, Ray Collings, expressed his own personal fears that the deterioration of interest in the game was only increasing and that it would not be long before they were unable to garner sufficient players to continue. He called for anyone interested in making the season’s commitment to come out and give the game a try. He says that it is not simply in South Norfolk that they are experiencing apathy but in the game of football for adults on the whole. He says that the Sunday leisure leagues are being hit the hardest. He feels that players are unwilling to commit to being available on every single Sunday to play.
Collings feel that as lifestyles become far busier, and with an immense amount of leisure options available to people, the clubs are continually struggling to attract the necessary number of people wanting to invest their weekends in the game. He says that part of the problem is that the game needs to be more attractive to younger adults.
Many youth players are quite invested in playing until they reach a certain age, generally around the early teens, and then there is a dramatic decline in interest. Like most teens, they don’t want to be told what to do and that is part of the issue. They stop showing up for practices and training and move on to other leisure activities. Collings feels that the sport makes a valuable community contribution and that the area will suffer if this drops off. He says that at his age of almost 70, he is unable to play but he used to and he is wistful about the bonds that he created throughout his playing time.
Trevor Cobb, league chairman, says that even if people sign up, they still need to commit to the time on the weekends and come out to play. He asks people to spread the word and encourage their friends and neighbours to get involved or the game will eventually be lost entirely in the area.