FURD is working in partnership with a team of researchers on a new project, Football and Connected Communities, to research the role of football in the lives of young people.
The project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council as part of their Connected Communities programme, and focuses on young people aged between 14-18, initially in Sheffield, aiming to research three specific areas:
- The increasing cost of watching live football and the rising engagement with football through the media;
- The dominance of the premier league and the decreasing sense of loyalty that communities have to their local clubs; and
- The relationship between young people and professional footballers, and their jobs as role models to their fans.
The team of researchers consists of FURD's Dr Chris Stone, and Dr Anita Mangan, Dr Olu Jenzen and Dr Michael Skey from Keele University, University of Brighton and the University of East Anglia .
The team is carrying out research with various groups of young people, including a group of young mainly Muslim women from FURD's female football initiative, and are discovering a lot about their perceptions of male footballers in terms of celebrity and desirability. They are also working with a group of teenage boys who regularly attend football sessions at the U-Mix Centre coordinated by Sheffield United Community Foundation. They also held a research day at King Ecgberts School in Sheffield to investigate the role that football in social media has to play for teenagers aged 14-16.
The research team has various key aims. They want to examine and critique the debate of whether footballers are successful role models or not, and want to discover to truth behind the relationships between young people and their football idols. They also want to distinguish between the image and roles of local teams in comparison to larger premiership/championship league teams and their players. So far, through their research, they have discovered a correlation showing that those of ethnic minorities demonstrate more loyalty and interest in bigger teams, compared to white British young people who are more likely to support their local teams.
At the end of their research, the team hope to help inform a variety of organisations that utilise the power of football, such as schools and local clubs, to help young people.
The more information, follow the link below to the project website.