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FA Web site will boost football at the grassroots

Despite the current excitement about the superstars playing in (or walking out of) the World Cup, Andrew Halstead, chief...

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Despite the current excitement about the superstars playing in (or walking out of) the World Cup, Andrew Halstead, chief information officer at the Football Association (FA), hopes that the new version of the FA's Web site will provide a fillip for local, grassroots football.

"My biggest challenge is to encourage people to participate in football. I need to know who are these potential participants and what their specific interests are," said Halstead. "This is our version of customer relationship management and it is in line with the business vision of developing football at the grassroots level."

The site, which went live this week, includes a section on women's football, the fastest growing sport in the UK, and e-learning slots for parents and would-be referees.

The FA has also developed a Web-orientated national football system (Wonfas) to record the results from 2,000 affiliated local leagues. Already more than 700 league administrators have qualified for an FA grant to buy a laptop computer to input results direct to Wonfas.

Halstead hopes that the site will develop to the point where visitors will be able to download archive footage of a Beckham free kick alongside digital shots and match reviews from local games.

However, for the moment Halstead is working with hosting partner NTT/Verio to prepare for the World Cup bandwidth stretch. "When manager Sven Goran Ericsson was due to name the England squad we had four million hits in two hours," he said.

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