The Football Associations of the UK should focus their efforts in 2009 on developing better young players, a Club Website poll has revealed.
When asked ’How should your Football Association seek to improve grassroots football in the year ahead?’ developing better players came above raising standards of behaviour, increasing participation and improving the management/administration within the game as a priority for Club Website readers.
35% of voters said that their FA should focus on developing better young players above any other issue.
It has been argued that the poor recent fortunes of the home nations' international teams are unlikely to improve until the quality of young players coming through the ranks improves and our Club Website poll result would, it seems, support this view.
The issue receiving the second highest number of votes was behaviour in the game, with 24% of readers wishing to see their FA focus on raising behavioural standards in the year ahead.
Whilst still receiving one in four votes, this result does suggest that behaviour is not the stand-out issue that it was last season. When developing their National Game Strategy 2008-2012, the English FA found that addressing the issue of abusive behaviour was a clear priority for those involved in the grassroots game.
In response to the problem, the FA this season gave a high profile launch to their Respect programme, implemented in the professional game and - in some counties across England at grassroots level.
The Respect programme has been a regular topic for discussion in the media and, whilst usually focussed on the professional game, it has certainly received a lot of publicity across the UK.
Whilst it is difficult to compare the results of our UK-wide survey with those found by the English FA last year, one could argue as top referee Howard Webb did recently that the programme has already had a positive effect on behaviour.
Or maybe just hearing the Respect campaign mentioned in news and sports bulletins so often has led people to believe that the issue is being addressed and thus change their focus? Club Website will investigate this issue further in our next poll, so keep your eyes peeled over the coming days.
Not far behind behaviour as an issue for 2009 came the problem of increasing and retaining participation in football. Falling numbers - in one form of the game or another - has been an issue across the country for some time and 22% of Club Website readers wish to see their FA tackle this issue head-on in the year ahead.
The remaining 19% of voters wish for their FA to improve the management and administration of the game. An abundance of paperwork, fines and red tape are common complaints in the grassroots game and it seems that some people have had enough of these, preferring to focus on the football instead.
To those 19%, a word of consolation.... at least Club Website can help streamline your administration and management at club and league level!
Poll result: As we move into 2009, how should your Football Association seek to improve grassroots football in the year ahead?
35.1% - Develop better young players
24.0% - Raise standards of behaviour
21.9% - Increase/retain participation in football
19.0% - Improve the management/administration of the game
Poll size: 3,083
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