Grassroots football is the heart and soul of the game. For the hundreds of thousands of participants, it is their opportunity to be involved in a sport they are truly passionate about.

In a new feature series, Kick It Out will speak to figureheads and representatives of the grassroots game as they offer their unique thoughts from the amateur and community level.

In the second part, Peter Augustine, County Coach Developer at The FA, reveals how Surrey FA are looking to bring football to the whole county, as well reflecting on discrimination in grassroots football and the importance of Kick It Out.

Part of Peter’s role at The FA is to assist Surrey FA with delivering Coaching Awards. He believes that County FA’s are improving in terms of promoting opportunities in coaching for all, but that more can be done.

“At Surrey FA, they’re talking a lot more about giving people the opportunity to get the correct coaching level, for example they promote CPD (Continual Professional Development). Another idea which they are promoting is to be more visible around the whole county.

“Surrey are a good County FA and they are proactive in terms of engaging with grassroots football but one of the issues we’ve raised is the fact that they don’t go into the metropolitan boroughs enough. If they can do this, it will mean we can have a greater effect on people from all backgrounds.

“Surrey is seen as a very leafy, well-off region of the country – but there are also areas that have large communities which are struggling such as in Croydon and New Addington, so they need to be reaching those communities more and getting them to understand that their teams are coached properly.

“I think a lot of County FAs are doing that but I think it needs to happen more. I think it needs to become part and parcel of their work on a day-to-day basis, as opposed to putting on special events for black or minority ethnic coaches, women or disabled coaches – it should be part of regular coaching opportunities.”

This season, Kick It Out is using the collective force of football to unite against discrimination through its Call Full Time On Hate initiative. Peter believes that if unchallenged, hate could make an impact across the grassroots game.

“When you think about football it is the people’s game – so if there is more hate crime in society, it is likely we’re going to see incidents like that in all aspects of the sport.

“I’ve heard of incidents where young players, some as young as eight, have been racially abused. I’ve heard of players and parents also being racially abused.

“No child is born a racist. Racists are made and we have to ask ourselves why is this happening? We have to also ask why we think people now have the courage to say these racist things publicly that perhaps four or five years ago would have been unthinkable.”

The initiative, running until the end of the 2016/17 season, is also looking to promote the work done at all levels of the game to develop equality and inclusive practices. Peter believes the initiative, and the work Kick It Out has undertaken over the past 23 years, have been a positive for the sport at all levels.

“You look at football in the wider context, like the work done at Kick It Out, and it has really raised awareness and opened people’s eyes to some of the issues that are going on.

“Football should be tackling these issues head on, making sure they challenge them day-to-day and not just recognising equality for a game or even a month – it should be all season long. Everyone should be involved in that – from professional to grassroots.

“I think grassroots football can lead the way for the professional game to behave. I’ve seen some fantastic examples in grassroots football where they’ve held silent weekends and put up signs telling everyone to respect the rules and that they will not tolerate foul and abusive language.

“Working alongside Kick It Out I have seen how it has grown over the years and how it has helped numerous people at grassroots level. I think it is important that their work is supported. I believe the most important point is that we don’t think that the job is ever done, because the moment we think that, discrimination will raise its head again.”