Know Where You Play

Monday 18th December - Sunday 24th December

Monday 18th December – Sunday 24th December

The Devon FA's Know Where You Play campaign aims to inform parents and carers about getting their child started in grassroots football in Devon. The campaign will detail the different areas of the game you should be aware of, and will build your knowledge to ensure you and your child are comfortable with their playing environment.

Never played football, but want to know about how your child can get started? This guide will tell you all you need to know



Whether you are looking to play club football or casual football, mainstream football or walking football, futsal or small-sided football, we can help you find a club that suits you.

We have over 600 clubs in Devon, ranging from Men's, Women's, Disability, Youth Male, Youth Female, Walking Football, Veterans Football and much more.

Use the England Football Find Football tool to find a club near you!

find a club here

Devon Youth Football Leagues

Below are a list of our Youth leagues in Devon, you can contact them using the links below:

Adrenalin Devon Junior & Minor League (Plymouth) - info@djmleague.co.uk

Devon County Youth League (U18) - richard.hill@devonfa.com

Devon Girls Football League - dgfl@live.co.uk

Exeter & District Youth League - https://www.exeteryouthleague.co.uk

North Devon Youth League - hfcyouthsecretary@gmail.com

The Pioneer Youth League - https://pioneeryouthleague.co.uk

For more information on finding a club in Devon, please email - info@devonfa.com



If you are looking to find a club for you or your child to join, you need to ensure they are affiliated with the County FA.

Affiliated clubs will have all the correct measures and procedures in place, as well as having individuals who are fully qualified in Safeguarding, and have the relevant Coaching Qualifications.

What is affiliation?

Affiliation is the process in which a club registers their teams with the County FA. It has many benefits, including taking part in Devon FA affiliated leagues and cups, participating against other affiliated teams (whether that be friendlies or competitive fixtures), having access to FA qualified referees, having access to funding through the FA, County FA and other providers, and much more.

For most clubs, affiliation takes place once a season, usually between June and August – but clubs are welcome to setup during the season (September – May) as well.

Why do they need to be affiliated?

All teams within a club taking part in football activity need to be affiliated. This means teams who are playing fixtures or taking part in any training sessions should be affiliated with Devon FA. These clubs will have the correct safeguarding measures and procedures in place to keep your child safe, as well as having qualified coaches who are compliant with FA regulations. Alongside this, affiliated clubs will be covered under insurance.

If you are unsure if a club is affiliated, please contact us by emailing – affiliations@devonfa.com and we will be happy to help you.

More information on the affiliations process can be found here.



If you want to play your part, we encourage you to ask your child’s club the following questions:

• Is my child’s manager/coach Disclosure and Barring Service (FA DBS) checked and Safeguarding children qualified?

• How can I get a copy of the clubs safeguarding policy and procedures?

• Who is the Club Welfare Officer (CWO) for my child’s club and how do I contact them?

• Do you have club Codes of Conduct for players, officials and parents, and where can I view them?

• How will you communicate with me/my child?

• If appropriate – How will you support my child’s medical/additional needs?

Here are some questions that we often get asked and the answers to them:

What is the role of the Club Welfare Officer?

    The Club Welfare Officer has a very important role within a club. 

    -They need to make sure that there is a positive and safe environment for all

    -Deal with poor practice concerns in line with club policy and procedures

    -Make sure all officials involved with the club are Safeguarding compliant

    -Work with the County Safeguarding Officer

What should I do if I have a complaint?

Contact the Club Welfare Officer, making sure you include names, dates and any witnesses

If I have a concern about a child or someone’s behaviour towards a child, what should I do?

Depending on what the concern is the first point of call would be your CWO, if unsure email - safeguarding@devonfa.com

For any serious concerns such as physical abuse you should call 999.

What is the FA’s Whistle Blowing Policy?

Whistle blowing can be used as an early warning system or when it’s recognised that appropriate   actions have not been taken. This approach or policy is adopted in many different walks of life.

It is about revealing and raising concerns over misconduct or malpractice within an organisation or within an independent structure associated with it.

Any adult or young person with concerns about a colleague can also use whistleblowing by calling 0800 169 1863 and asking for The FA's safeguarding team, or via email on safeguarding@TheFA.com.

Alternatively, you can go direct the Police or Children’s Social Care and report your concerns there, or to the Child Protection in Sport Unit via cpsu@nspcc.org.uk or the NSPCC Helpline via 0808 800 5000 or by emailing help@nspcc.org.uk

For any safeguarding queries, please email us - safeguarding@devonfa.com

Read more on Safeguarding here



Every single team that are part of an affiliated club will require the team manager to have certain coaching qualifications.

Use the links below to explore the courses!

What to expect your coaches to have:

Introduction to Coaching Football (I2CF) course

Introduction to First Aid course

Safeguarding Children course – mandatory when working with players 18 years old and below.

One person per team must hold the minimum of I2CF course, Introduction to First Aid course and Safeguarding Children course.

If you would like more information on coaching courses, please email - development@devonfa.com



Do you know what each of these different environments look like? It's really important to know the difference between grassroots football, development centres and academies. These can easily be confused!

Grassroots Football

Grassroots football is any football where the main driver is the love of the game and all the social and health benefits from playing, coaching, refereeing and volunteering. Essentially, this covers all non- professional football.

Development Centres

Development Centres are an additional session which players can participate in alongside playing grassroots football. This environment sits outside of academy football.

Academies & Pre-Academies

An academy is aligned to a Professional Football League Club and have obtained an academy licence. Professional football clubs can officially sign players once they are U9’s. Pre-academies start operating at U7’s. Plymouth Argyle Football Club and Exeter City Football Club are the only academies in the county. Parents do not pay for their child to attend an academy.



We encourage clubs to focus on creating a positive match day experience amongst all involved, which will help the game be more enjoyable for everyone.

If you are a parent looking for a club for your child, we would encourage you to find a club that has a positive environment, and adopts the correct behaviours.

What is a positive environment?

This is about supporting your players. To thrive, they need to feel safe and happy. 

Remember that, as a coach, you're a role model. Having an open, 'can do' attitude sets a great example – for both your team and their parents. Read more by clicking HERE

At the Devon FA, we have devised a Matchday Observation Sheet to capture the behaviour in games of clubs, coaches, players and parents. When collating the information we want to recognise and reward those that have demonstrated positive behaviour. Working in hand with our safeguarding lead, we will aim to tackle those that might need a friendly reminder about their actions and what effect it could have towards the game. 

What behaviours should we look out for?

Working with young people in grassroots football requires individuals to exhibit certain additional behaviours to those requires when working with adults.

The FA have developed the below guide to assist clubs and those involved in grassroots football in understanding the behaviours that they expect to exhibit.

Clubs should be welcoming to all children, parents and carers, treating everyone equally with respect and dignity. The environment should be safe, fun and inclusive.


Here are a few interventions created by the FA to harness a positive environment are as follows, click the heading links to read more on each topic: 

Love Football, Protect the Game - Conduct of players, coaches, clubs and spectators.

Point Deductions - Responsibility given to players and coaches to behave in an appropriate manner. Repeated offenders of serious misconduct will be struck with a points deduction 

Silent Support Weekends - to encourage spectators and coaches to show their support during the match through applause only. 

Anti-Discrimination Campaign - An action plane devised to raise awareness of discretionary behaviour and encourage reporting incidents. 

Sin Bins - We will continue to encourage and support referees to apply the use of sin bins, where appropriate, to tackle poor behaviour throughout the season. 10-minute sin bin dismissals are issued at the discretion of referees as punishment for dissent, and apply to all levels of grassroots football, including youth, veterans and disability

The FA continue to work tirelessly with County FA's to support grassroots football by working alongside professional bodies such as Kick It Out, PFA and LMA.



Each club should have a club ethos – this is something set out in writing as how they are run as a club. It should be clear and concise, which can be read easily by players, parents and officials.

It’s important that the coach / manager of the team abides to the Club Ethos at all times.

We would encourage equal playing time and opportunities which is offered to all players.

One of the most important things when it comes to a Club Ethos is it's not about playing to win, and this should not come at the cost of player development.

The ethos can include values, principles and beliefs regarding the identity of the football club.

Things a club ethos may include:

  • To provide football for children of all ages and abilities
  • To provide a fun and inclusive environment
  • To promote good behaviour and respect for others
  • To promote the importance of team work
  • To want to win but not at the cost of development
  • To ensure all players play within the laws of the game