Get Inspired: FOOTBALL

Football is the most popular sport in the world.

The sport harnesses the passion of hundreds of millions of people worldwide, from Europe to South America.

Players and fans around the world live and breath this brilliant team game. The sport has a rich and varied history, and showcases amazing skill, agility and athleticism.

Get involved

Football is a fast-moving and simple sport that is open to people of all abilities and ages.  There are almost five million players in the United Kingdom playing the game in more than 50,000 clubs.

Unlike other sports, a casual game of football is incredibly easy to set up. All that is needed is a ball, makeshift goals and varying numbers of competing players.

Thousands of grassroots training schemes take place each year in parks, sport centres, schools, universities, gyms and colleges.

Get Inspired: Faye White on football

Get Inspired: FOOTBALL

Use the FA's Just Play  scheme to search for your nearest game of football, from a casual kickabout to more organised five-a-side and 11-a-side teams.

Other initiatives include the Premier League's Creating Chances  , which uses its clubs to engage with local communities and change lives for the better.

The Premier League 4 Sport  scheme engages young children in sport through Premier League clubs and their resources.

Street League  uses football to train and educate 16-24 year olds who have fallen out of education and employment.

For safety, shin pads should always be worn whether playing on grass, astro turf or indoors.

Programmes can also be found by those who want to get into the sport by becoming coaches and referees.

Go to the Football Association,  Football Association of Wales,   Irish Football Association  or Scottish Football Association  websites for more information on how and where to try out or watch the sport.

Why is it good for you?

Football provides a great variety of physical exercise as in a game a player will have to run, kick, dodge, sprint and jump. It helps increase endurance, promote agility, develop physical coordination and build muscle strength.

Gary Lineker

I always had a method to my penalty taking

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Players remain in constant motion, with about five miles typically run in a 90-minute, 11-a-side game. This effort burns approximately 630 calories.

A study by the University of Copenhagen found that playing football on a regular basis boosted cardiovascular fitness, aided fat loss and reduced blood pressure.

As it is a team game, it is an excellent way to develop communication skills and learn to work effectively with other people. Football clubs also offer a variety of social events beyond simply playing the sport.

More than 250m people are believed to play football regularly in over 200 countries. A further 3.5 billion are believed to be fans, making it the most popular sport in the world.

History

Football has its roots in ancient China and the streets of medieval England, and first appeared on the Olympic programme in Paris in 1900.

Men's football was introduced as a demonstration sport at the 1896 Olympics and was one of the first team sports to be introduced to the Games. It became an official Olympic sport in 1908 but was dropped from the Games in 1932 following the inaugural Fifa World Cup.

It returned in 1936 but the growth of professional football after the Second World War meant the best players were ineligible to take part - unless they lived in Communist countries, resulting in dominance for Eastern Bloc nations.

In 1984 some professionals were allowed to compete, but European and South American nations were restricted to using players who had not yet featured at a World Cup. In 1992 all professionals were eligible, provided they were under 23 years old.

At the 1996 Games in Atlanta, teams were allowed to field three over-age players in the final tournament and women's football was introduced with no age restrictions.

More on the IOC website 

Are you inspired to try Football? Or maybe you are an expert player already? Get in touch and tell us your experience of the game by tweeting us on @bbcgetinspired  or email us on getinspired@bbc.co.uk.

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Where Next?

Find a Football event, taster session or club near you.

See our full list of activity guides for more inspiration.

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