'Football is a force for good'

Prince William says game is force for good as he heads up FA’s 150th birthday celebrations.

UNITED KINGDOM, London : Britain's Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge takes part in a football training session in the garden of Buckingham Palace in central London on October 7, 2013, prior to a football match to mark the Football Association's 150th anniversary. AFP PHOTO / BEN STANSALL

LONDON - Football is a force for good around the world, according to FA president Prince William who will lead the organisation's 150th birthday celebrations on Saturday.

Aston Villa fan William, who is second in line to the British throne, spoke of his personal love for the game and its global significance in a message to mark the formation of the world's oldest FA.

"I've always loved football since I was a young boy. I've never got any better at it but I keep saying to myself if you keep trying eventually something will happen.

"It's always meant a great deal to me being president of the FA. There's a lot of good that football can do around the world and in this country," he said in a video message on the organisation's website (www.thefa.com).

"But globally it is a huge force for good and a lot of people love, respect and enjoy their football more than anything else in their lives," added William.

"Being president of an organisation that can reach that many people and affect a lot of lives through sport is hugely important."

Asked whether he would take baby George to watch his club in the future, William offered a wry smile and said: "When Villa thrash Manchester United at Villa Park my son will be there".

The prince, who arranged for the first ever match to be played at Buckingham Palace earlier this month, is to attend a gala dinner to mark the formation of the FA back on 26 October, 1863.

Sepp Blatter, president of world soccer's ruling body FIFA, will be among the guests at the dinner in London's Covent Garden, the site where the FA was founded in a now-demolished pub called the Freemasons Arms.

A pub of the same name stands on the opposite side of the street but the original was destroyed many years ago to make way for the Grand Connaught Rooms where Saturday's dinner is taking place.

The occasion is one of many celebrations the FA have staged this year to mark their 150th anniversary including matches against Brazil, Scotland and Germany at Wembley.

One match holds a unique place in the festivities: the game between long-standing amateur rivals Civil Service and Polytechnic played at Buckingham Palace on 7 October.

Asked if it was easy to get permission from The Queen for the match to take place, Prince William said: "No, it wasn't.

"There was one person I needed to get permission from, my grandmother. She was extremely supportive but there was a little bit of a sweating moment for me having to ask her, with the possibility that her lawn might turn into a massive quagmire."