Football. Regardless of how much ability you either were, or were not blessed with, the chances are that if you're reading this article, you enjoy playing it to some degree. You could be a Sunday League superstar, semi-professional 'nearly man' or just simply avoid it all together because you've realised that by now you've got two left feet and are best off spectating from the sidelines.
Whatever your disposition though, there will be plenty of football teams up and down the country ready to welcome you with open arms should you wish to lace up the boots of a Saturday afternoon. Well, at least there would have been ten years ago. Now, the sad truth is that the 11-a-side version of our beautiful game is in jeopardy of completely disbanding due to participation levels dropping and more and more clubs calling it a day each and every season.
The amateur game in England has suffered a catastrophic decline in recent years, with a 2015 study commissioned by the FA revealing that an astonishing 2,360 grassroots football teams had folded in a three year period between 2012-2015. Alongside this unwelcoming statistic is an even more depressing one - approximately 180,000 players aged 16+ had dropped out of the game since 2005.
So, why exactly are we seeing such a rapid decline in 11-a-side football within England? There are a number of factors, from the rise of accessible 5-a-side leagues to a lack in funding at grassroots level. The bottom end of the footballing pyramid has been neglected for years now, and players have become fed up with it.