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Football greats involved in national FA campaign to get more people playing

30 May 2014

Special Reds v Blue ball placed on statue of Blackburn Rovers legend Jack Walker as The FA unveils plan for weekend of celebrations.

The statue of former Blackburn Rovers owner, Jack Walker, has become the latest supporter of a new Football Association campaign encouraging more people to play football this summer.

With the support of Blackburn Rovers, a blue football has been added to the statue of Jack Walker ahead of The FA's Reds v Blues weekend of football this summer.

Walker's ambition and success has seen him enter Rovers folklore, as the club enjoyed their most successful period of their history under his ownership, culminating in a Premiership title in 1995.

Plans for the Reds v Blues weekend, named to honour the classic team colours used most often in the nation's favourite game, have recently been announced with activities set to take place around the country on Friday 6 and Saturday 7 June, as excitement builds ahead of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

As well as numerous events organised by The FA and at 5-aside centres around the country, people are also being encouraged to enjoy playing football in whatever form they want - from games of •Wembley' in their gardens through to kickabouts in their local park.

People who play on the day are being encouraged to wear red or blue kit and send pictures and videos from their game to The FA via Twitter (@FA) as well as the final score to

Former Arsenal, Birmingham City, Bolton Wanderers and England Under-21 footballer, Fabrice Muamba, will be joined by former semi-professional player, TV presenter and Heart FM radio host, Mark Wright, as team captains for the Reds and Blues - leading the drive for others to get involved.

Flagship events include a beach football festival in Dorset FA - more than fitting against the backdrop of a World Cup in Brazil. Also taking place will be a disability football showcase at St. George's Park, and an eleven-a-side event in Liverpool. 

The FA will also give away 10,000 special red and blue footballs, and has partnered with Goals, Play Football and Power League football centres to offer special rates during the World Cup on selected dates.

Leading The FA's drive is Fabrice Muamba. The 26-year-old has supported The FA's grassroots work since his cardiac arrest on the pitch in November 2012 forced him to give up the game he had spent his life playing.

Fabrice Muamba said: 
"Football is a game I love but am no longer able to take part. It is really important for me to spread the word that people should cherish their opportunity to play. 

"It doesn't matter what your background is, football's simple beauty is that anyone can get involved wherever they are.

"I fully support The FA's Reds v Blues campaign, especially with the excitement of the World Cup ramping up. 

"It would be great to think of kids watching Steven Gerrard and the boys out in Brazil and then rushing outside to play themselves. You're never too old either so mums and dads should join them."

Former TOWIE star and England C footballer, Mark Wright, said: 
"Football has always been one of the biggest passions in my life - from kickabouts with my mates to my days playing semi-professional for the likes of Bishop's Stortford, Fisher Athletic and St Neots Town.

"With the FIFA World Cup taking place this summer, it's the perfect opportunity for everyone to enjoy playing the nation's favourite game. There is no better feeling than getting outside with friends or family and kicking a ball around for a few hours, its brilliant exercise and its great fun. So, I'm encouraging the whole nation to sign up for The FA's Reds v Blues campaign and play football on 7 June."

FA Chairman Greg Dyke said: 
"As someone who still plays football at 66 - when my legs allow it, I am proof anyone can get involved! 

"The FA faces big challenges to keep people playing, and we are stepping up our work on the facilities and coaching side - but let's not forget the most important thing is to get a ball, find some mates and just have a go. 

"Reds v Blues will be the perfect time to do just that - especially with excitement building towards the World Cup in Brazil.

"We have 400,000 volunteers up and down the country who give their life to football week in, week out and millions playing - but we know there are many others who love the game and could still play. 

"Fans who have forgotten that thrill of scoring a goal or making a tackle, and who could get so much out of taking part. 

"Football brings people together, encourages healthy living and is, above all, fun. Everyone should join in with the nation's favourite game." 

Coming exactly a week before England begin their FIFA World Cup campaign against Italy on 14 June, Reds v Blues Day will give people the perfect opportunity to get involved just as the carnival of colour begins in Brazil. 

Reds v Blues Day follows on from The FA's hugely successful 150th anniversary programme in 2013, when the grassroots game was put right at the centre of the celebrations. 

It forms part of the wider Love Football Play Football initiative which will also see Sir Bobby Robson Day and an FA Community Weekend presented by McDonalds later this summer.

The more details visit

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