Vauxhall has jointly launched a new initiative with the England Football Association (FA) to halt the drop-out rate among teenagers in the 14-17 age group, as it hailed the success of its links to the sport.

Speaking at the start of the programme known as 'Football Mash Up', Vauxhall managing director and chairman Duncan Aldred said the automaker's commitment to sponsorship of the FA and England team, was paying dividends.

"We agreed on sponsorship of the FA because, frankly, we wanted to get Vauxhall talked about and wanted to associate with all levels of society in England," he said. "The sponsorship is working really well for us and we are very proud to be associated with the FA.

"We are not just sponsoring England at the highest level [however], we are doing it at grass roots level. It fits our brand perfectly to do that. Tackling the issues of youth participation is vital for the future good of the game and alongside the FA we are determined to make a significant impact on the drop-out rates at this age group."

The FA and Vauxhall have appointed eight full-time specialist officers with a target of facilitating Football Mash Up sessions for more than 50,000 teenage footballers through the year. 

The Football Mash Up sessions will offer a recreational form of football in after-school clubs, played in small-sided facilities and run by specialist FA Vauxhall Youth officers.  

Sport England has also committed to match-fund GBP100,000 (US$162,000) of Vauxhall's investment through its SportsMatch scheme to launch the programme

Former England manager, Graham Taylor, who was also at the launch event, said the idea would appeal to those who do not make it to a professional level within the game in England.

"There is such a small percentage of boys who go on to become professional footballers," he said. "When that does not happen it is a massive disappointment. So that age group of 14-17 is absolutely vital to keep playing the national game for Vauxhall to be sponsoring - that is vital.

"We all start at grass roots level - I would congratulate the FA and Vauxhall for associating with such a scheme as this.

Vauxhall also sponsors the national football teams of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.