The future success of the national football team depends on schools getting more 5- to 11-year-olds playing the game, according to Sir Trevor Brooking, the Football Association's director of football.
Sir Trevor is encouraging schools to make use of the pound;4.5 million Hat-Trick regeneration programme, a three-year scheme to get more players from areas of social deprivation involved in the game.
"The whole football system is a pyramid. And to improve it, we have to strengthen the base of the pyramid so that more youngsters come into the sport at a young age," he said.
The England women's international player Rachel Unitt praised schools for promoting the game, saying it was having a dramatic impact on take-up of the sport among girls.