FA outlines new approach to youth development

Sir Trevor Brooking's 25-point plan includes "radical" changes to the structure of the grassroots game in England

The Football Association today outlined their plans for a new approach to youth development in England, including some “radical” changes to the structure of the grassroots game.

The FA’s Young Player Development Review, established after England’s failure at the 2010 World Cup, includes 25 recommendations to improve the game from top to bottom.

Building on the playing and coaching philosophies outlined in the Future Game documents published last year, the proposals involve changes at all levels of the game, from grassroots mini-soccer teams right up to the Club England setup.

The proposals – already approved by the FA board and council and set to be ratified in April – will herald changes to formats and facilities within grassroots youth football, make coaching more professional at all levels and strengthen international team development.

Changes to the grassroots game

Central to the proposals are major changes to the way youth football is structured at grassroots level, including raising the minimum age for competitive leagues, extending the use of small-sided football and introducing 9-a-side football for the Under 11 age group.

Full details of the proposals are yet to be published, but it is understood that the minimum age at which children will be able to play competitive league football will be raised to Under 12s, three years higher than the current minimum (Under 9s).

Sir Trevor Brooking, Director of Football at the FA, admits the changes are “pretty radical”, but firmly believes that they are essential if England is to produce better, more technically adept players in the future.

Brooking told the BBC: “It’s pretty radical really. [In 2008] we stopped league tables at Under 8s and there was quite a lot of outrage in certain parts of the country [but] we got that through and everyone has accepted it now.”

“We did a lot of research on the back of that. We asked a lot of youngsters to choose from 16 possible reasons why they played mini-soccer. League tables and trophies were hardly selected at all from these choices.

“Any game you play in is competitive, but the youngsters weren’t even bothered where they were in the league. They didn’t even know most of the time. It’s the parents telling them ‘if you win today, you’ll be second in the league’.

“We want to get away from that because we want to get them passing the ball and making them better players. You’ve got to have the fun-factor for individual techincal development.”

Brooking also outlined potential changes for Under 7s and Under 8s to 5-a-side without a set goalkeeper and “rotating the back person” to ensure players get more time on the ball and encourage playing out from the back.

He also expressed a desire to implement 9-a-side football for Under 11s, following a “very successful” pilot scheme in two parts of the country.

Such changes will not be introduced immediately but will be subject to further consultation within the game. However, Brooking is adamant that this is the way forward.

“These things are a challenge for some but we’d like to think that, with some forward thinking, we’ll introduce them pretty quickly. It might need a period of consultation, gradually phase-in [their] introduction and seeing the benefits of it over two, three, four years.

“We’ve got to start somewhere and everyone agrees this is where we have to do it, so hopefully we can get it over the line.”

The full list of 25 recommendations, which also feature major changes for the professional game – including the mandatory release by clubs of any player for international duty at any age group – can be found here.

Dan Pope, Club Website editor

Have your say!

What do you think of the FA’s proposals and their potential significance for the grassroots game? Do you agree with the proposed changes to kids’ football? Are the FA’s “radical” steps what is needed to produce future generations of world class talent?

We’d love to hear what you think, so have your say in our comments section below.

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Dan Pope
Writer at Teamer
Freelance writer, editor and copywriter, with a passion for grassroots sport. A right back turned football writer, Dan is the former editor of Club Website and has been lucky enough to work in the field of grassroots and community sport for the last 10 years.

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  1. Ian P on January 28, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    Sorry Mr Brooking,
    This just reinforces my view that the FA and most of the people working for them are totally out of touch with Grass roots football.
    I have been a Coach & Manager for my son’s team for around 5 years now.
    In that time the FA have not given our club anything at all – They only take, take, take.
    My County F.A. is just the same.
    They seem to get paid a lot of money, but actually do a rubbish job.
    At a recent County Cup Game, the referee did not turn up – I called the mobile number of person at the County FA but it went to voicemail!
    I fail to see how the FA can blame Grass Roots football for being a reason that the England team performed to badly at last years World Cup.
    I also think it is a good thing to have leagues and trophies – That’s probably why this country is doing so badly at things, because we’ve lost that “Win” mentality that we once used to have.
    The FA will do what they do, and change what they change, purely because they can.
    Everyone has to fall in to line and do what they say – Otherwise they will find some way of fining you.
    Rant Over!

  2. Nick Ward on January 28, 2011 at 11:02 pm

    Surely Sir Trevor Brooking should be more worried about what is happenjing at the top of the football ladder in regards to respect and leave the Grassroots football to do its own thing like it has for many moons. The bloke is not helping more making people look at other sports instead

  3. G Thomas on January 29, 2011 at 1:02 am

    Interesting stuff. Likely to upset a few parents if it’s true, but can’t blame the FA for shaking things up.

    Interested to see all the details one released. Keep us posted!

  4. j scandrettt on January 29, 2011 at 10:39 am

    no goalkeepers at under 7s or 8s well done brooking try telling a lad who doesnt like playing outfield that he has to play there when are they supposed to learn

  5. Richard on January 29, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    Its a good idea to move from 7 a side to 9 a side then 11, its a big jump from a small pitch to a full size pitch.

  6. Nick Ward on January 29, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    Maybe Mr Brooking should get out and watch some Grassroots Football from Under 8s upwards instead of sitting in his FA office looking for other ways to mess up our football. If they continue to cyhange the way that us VOLUNTEERS run Grassroots football then all it will do is to force more and more VOLUNTEERS to look for other sports instead. We run clubs because we ENJOY it not that we don’t get paid unlike Mr Brooking who does.

    Leave us alone !! how about sorting out the discipline and swearing in the top leagues ?

  7. Adrian Johnson on January 29, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    Mr Brooking i am very upset that directive has been aimed at grassroots coaching. We all give our time for free and we get critised.
    You can’t blame grassroots coaches for Englands failures for not producing players. How many clubs release players after being at pro clubs saying they are not good enough?
    It a shame its taken you this long to realise that your structure is wrong and you have been outdates for ages.
    We have mini soccer until 10, then 11 a side, a big jump, then acrossd the country every council lacks football pitches for children, very rare mini soccer pitches and smaller pitches for children. Schools should be blamed for making children play in king size goals when half of goalkeepers are short. Where do we produce the next Joe Hart or even the next Wayne Rooney?
    This bringing in 9 a sie should of been done years ago. Shame you should listen to grassroots coaches.
    We then won’t have 9 a side pitches or lack of them, then with all cuts where are these pitches coming from?
    You need to look at th FA setup and come out of the Charles Hughes philisophy of football.
    The Premiership is fast and furious, where is the technical side in that?
    We worry about winning and winning, our clubs buy too many foreign players due to pressure these clubs are on, so how do our players improve.
    Clubs take these players at such a young age, when some of them haven’t played in any mini soccer league.
    We have all done our badges and the Level 2 even has 6 v 6 , 7 v 7 etc, but our game don’t.
    Lets look at the present structure and change it, but when will this come into effect?
    I have coached for 20 years and 6 of them in youth and i have seen a jump from 7 a side straight into 11 a side, whos fault is that?
    Not us Volunteer grassroots coaches, praise us, like we do with our kids, instead of critising.
    I never rated you as player and im sure these kids won’t have a clue who you are.
    So does our present professional plaayers lack technical insight and half of them can’t kick with their opposote foot.
    I could rant all day, but enough said.

    Everyone you are all doing a great job, keep up the good work without us they will be begging for more coaches, like they are referees.
    This comes from the top, not the bottom, sort ou yr mess first.
    Stop taking our money and give something back
    , but producing the facilites we need.
    We have the olympics, but how many running track do we have?

  8. Nigel Bircham on January 29, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    I would have thought that it was clearly obvious why the England team does not perform. Unless the number of foreign players is restricted then nothing will change. I am a big fan of Arsenal, but they managed just one British player in their team the other day !!! that speaks volumes. On the subject of youth football – lets get real, children love to compete, why should they not have competitive leagues and cups, it never did me any harm – all the authorities have to do is to control the parents and relatives.

  9. David on January 29, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    Next time you are on the touchline at an u9, u10 or 11 game just listen to and watch the coaches and parents. There are far too many that put adult expectations on the kids, that think it’s all about winning – whatever they might say to the contrary – none of which helps long term player development. How many kids do you know that are “assigned” a definite position as soon as they start? That said, there are double standards – with discipline at the top level far too lax and pros allowed to get away with murder compared to the grass roots.

  10. Malcolm Upward on January 31, 2011 at 10:24 am

    As the chairman of a club with an under 9 team that lost 11 consecutive games last season at under 8, I fully welcome the changes regarding non-competitive football.

    The boys were not worried at all about the results, they were just happy to be playing football but it was the parents that were putting pressure on the manager to ‘go for the win’ rather than letting each boy develop at their own pace.

    The most difficult part of this is to educate the parents to this way of thinking and one of the disappointments in this season is that, now we have gone to ‘competitive’ games, some of them have reverted back to putting pressure on the boys to win rather than to develop as players.

    This leads to parents contradicting managers and coaches and criticising boys for passing the ball rather than running with it whilst, at the same time, the manager and coach are praising the boys for doing this.

    The biggest positive of this season is that one of the previously ‘weaker’ players has developed into the outstanding player in the team. I truly believe that, had there been pressure on the manager to get results, this player would not have progressed the way that he has.

    Well done Sir Trevor for trying to bring youth football in this country out of the dark ages and recognising that change is needed. If people cannot embrace these changes for what they are, then perhaps they are not the right people to be developing our future football talent.

  11. Bob A on February 1, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    I don’t really mind the changes to non-competitive football for the lower age groups. Surely the mangers and coaches can still instill the will to win and giving your all in their teams without the need for trophies and league posistions. Theres nothing wrong with wanting to win games. I would suggest no child walks out onto a pitch wanting to lose. What it may stop hopefully are the parents on the sidelines shouting at and coaching their child (and others). It may just take the pressure of the kids to go out relaxed and enjoy THEIR game without the added pressure of being near the top or bottom of their league. Where I do disagree with Mr Brokking is the fact that grassroots football and us volunteer managers and coaches in particular are getting blamed for the lack of skill and ball finess at the top of the game. I would suggest at the moment any child who shows real good abilityfrom under 7’s onwards it seems are snapped up by academies. Perhaps the FA would do better looking at academy techniques and the ages academies take players in. Perhaps if kids were allowed to develop naturally, playing football with their mates until 12 or 13 when they could be taken in by academies then we may produce players and national teams able to compete at the highest level. Secondly the backing and assistance given by the fa at local and national level to grassroots coaches is dire. After completing your level one your sent on your way with perhaps 12 drills or so in your armoury and left to get on with it basically.Not everyone, including myself (although I would love to do it) can spare the time off work to complete a six day level 2 course. Instead i spend my own money on coaching websites and books, dvd’s etc in order to give my lads quality coaching. Surely thats not right when we are giving up our time (and it takes a lot of commitment to do it right) to teach and develp kids. manchester city have led the way recently with their coaching website. Why can’t the FA, with the amount of money they have at their disposal, create a coaching website for every coach, once they’ve passed their level 1, to access with quality drills,small sided games etc. Something akin to inside soccer now (made by top academies, was free but now you have to pay) Only when the FA start putting money where their mouth is by supporting grassroots coaches practically can they start pointing the finger when things go wrong.

  12. Chris Kirkham on February 3, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    Is a brilliant idea and can only take the game forward.
    We tolerate week in week out, coaches , parents and now players more interested in the win and points.
    Most want to win today and progres 2mo.
    These directives will have us progressing today and thinking about winning and points at more suitable age groups.
    I have seen teams fold, players leave and parents , coaches showing their selfs up at games.

    Most won’t like it. I know our league won’t like it, though it simply has to happen.

    I was once told by a parent , that he never slept a wink last night as he was worried the team wouldnt win the league the next day!!!
    That to me ,is simply what is wrong in todays junior football.

    Our club was created in 2006, with the directives in mind. I felt we were trying to change the world at the time, at last Mr Brooking has put the plan together that will put everyone on the same road.
    We have 5 teams in which we have 5 fully qualified coaches with parent assistants. We are ready for the change, and it would be better people sat down thought about the long term goals before dismissing it as a no go!

  13. Chris Kirkham on February 4, 2011 at 11:13 am

    Brilliant ideas, and all for it.
    Having seen a number of incidents from games were results are all that matters, then this is the only way forward for our game.
    Too many want to win today and learn 2mo. We need to progress and learn at every game and training session and the winning comes when it matters.
    Win at all costs attitudes, holds players back from progressing and also makes parents and coaches do strange things.
    I was once told by a grand parent that ” He had no sleep before their title decider ”
    Give me strength!!
    Thats whats wrong with the junior games today and these new directives complement everything that is wrong.
    We have seen a team fold, players leave and coaches refuse to officiate due to the current situation.
    People will moan as will be scared of a change, though sit back and think of the long term goals before moaning and you will see a change.
    Our club was created in 2006 with all this in mind. We felt we were trying something different having coaches at the helm instead of parents. It has all become apparant now and we are ready for the change.
    In ten years time this will all be history and the players will know no different.
    Well done the FA for finally making steps in the right direction.

  14. Nigel Hudson on February 4, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    Brooking, lauded as a player but as far as I’m aware he’s never coached (certainly not in the youth leagues), and the FA haven’t got a clue. Half-baked ideas dreamt up in some office, totally devoid of any connection with reality and what goes on at grassroots.

    If we want to get players passing the ball on the ground, moving to support, and comfortable on the ball, then 5 a-side is the game. But no goalkeepers?!?! The 5 a-side game would also mean that games could be played indoors in existing facilities which would get round the spate of match cancellations and bad outdoor pitches which do not help development of young players’ technique.

    Take a tip from the world of rugby and ban leagues at an early age. Any one familiar with youth rugby will tell you that it is no less competitive but that the win takes second place to playing well.

    Stop professional clubs taking away players before the age of 13. Is there any evidence that the clubs having the players early has made a difference to the development of quality professional English footballers? None, in fact quite the reverse with many good players being discarded and feeling that they’ve failed because a pro club has told them they’re not good enough.

    I, like others, could go on. Brooking, get off your backside, go and watch what goes on at youth football outside your leafy Surrey surroundings, LISTEN to what youth coaches say and make changes that address the issues that they, not you, identify.

  15. Rob Brassett on February 5, 2011 at 3:55 pm


    check out the National Futsal Alliance.

    Futsal is the future for youth football in england

  16. Lee Salter on February 7, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    Give me strength! I coach an U10’s team who this year have the chance to win their division.

    Last year at U9′ we finished lower mid table and this year, against roughly 90% of the teams we played last season, we’ve improved immensely.

    To take that competitive edge away from the boys, to take away something to aim for, to strive for at the end of the season would be a mistake.

    English football has lost it’s winning mentality for one reason and one reason only – the players get paid far, far too much money. Until this gets sorted out, nothing will change.

    I love the league structure at U9 and U10 and love mini-soccer. But do I coach my boys to win at all costs? Not on your life!! I take that as an insult to me, my assistant manager and most of all my boys who work their socks off in training trying to improve their skills. I coach them to win by playing football, by learning to pass the ball and move into space, by giving the boy in possession at least two options to pass to whether that means running away from him or coming to him. I coach them to recognise a good pass, I coach them how to control the ball, to improve their first touch. I never criticise them, always encourage.

    To take away league tables and trophies for them all until they are 13 or 14, well, I think that a lot of them would have lost interest long before then!

    Pro academies take boys far too early. I had two taken away last season by Mansfield Town academy. It didn’t have the funding this season to carry on and the two lads came back to me. What was the point in taking them to places as far away as Hartlepool for ten minutes of football?? Neither of them enjoyed it.

    I genuinely love coaching my team and I would do it whatever changes the FA make. But this just seems like a step too far to me. A team in our League won their first game for two seasons only last Sunday. I was absolutely chuffed for them. To see their reaction to winning was a joy to see. You don’t want to eradicate that surely!?

    At the end of the day, it all comes down to the coaching and this includes the management of the parents. I believe that it’s my responsibility to get across to the parents that it’s imperitive that they encourage their boys at ALL times. Negative comments only serve to discourage the boys and this is something that I always try to convey to my parents.

    I could go on all day. Please listen to the coaching community before deciding on these changes. We’re the ones giving up our time for the game we all love and care about.

  17. Chris Bird Mansfield on February 8, 2011 at 11:53 pm

    I’m sorry but this is complete & utter nonsense Mr Brooking! If you want to change youth football or grass roots football why dont doesn’t the FA do the only thing that would change it for the better which is ask the coaches & people in & around this kind of football because they know what needs changing not people in the FA offices behind desks who are totally out of touch!!

    You say more non competative matches will help player development for the better, well as a coach myself at under 9’s level I have to say this is nonsense!!! You can look at just about any other sport & the kids involved compete against eachother to win, how can this be negative? Yes it must always be fun & enjoyable & children should improve as individuals & as team players but along with this players will naturally develop a winning mentality so why should this be ignored?

    Ive read comments thats say they agree with Mr Brooking because it puts pressure on coaches to go for the win, parents are shouting for the win which is not helping the players. Well I say if thats the case the coaches & parents are to blame in those instances because its up to the coach to do the right thing & they should do whats best for the kids in the game & if his parents are like that then he needs to grow a backbone & tell them to pack it in.

    Perhaps instead of blaming the lack of success on in the english game youth football & making changes blindly to how we play our games they should look at educating coaches & giving those who make youth football all about winning better direction so this is not the case!!!

    My kids love to play & also love to win but they also enjoy it just as much if they loose which in my opinion is down to the way they are taught & how we in our club teach the kids how to approach & look at football win or loose.

    There is nothing wrong with competative games & leagues, the only problem I see if you think its wrong is poor coaching & giving the kids the wrong outlook on football. Sort this out but leave our game at our level alone Mr Brooking!!

    Chris Bird, Mansfield.

  18. Rob Parry on February 10, 2011 at 12:15 am

    I apologise first of all for what may seem an irate rant but much as I admired Sir Brooking as a player he as absolutely no idea how to emulate the team he so admires, Spain. Only this week he has said we will not win the World Cup until we learn to play like Spain. That is an interesting admission. Spain like Brasil, Italy, Argentina, France, et al all play Futsal from a very early age. Why is it so hard to see that this works? He has visited the Futsal national Finals both junior and senior competitions previously and still missed the point. I am a successful educator, I have taught children through to adults and i consider myself a professional. I would definately be without a job if i consistantly failed to put together a curriculum that leads to progression inside of two years never mind the number of years Brooking and the outdated dinosaurs at the FA have been meddling with grass roots football. They are a very arrogent organisation believing sub consciously that because we invented the game we know all there is to know about it. We surely cannot be taken seriously if we observe other highly talented nations year on year winning tournaments and believing we are still doing a job. Why has Futsal not been implimented properly instead of paying it lip service? are we really that arrogent that we believe we as a footballing nation know more than the Futsal playing nations? Nineteen world cup finals won fifteen times by Futsal playing nations and only four times by non futsal nations and three of those wins were by Germany who are not technically brilliant but are highly efficient and well drilled. It really is a simple answer, make our kids play futsal until they are 14 and then lat them choose a path. Do not misjudge what happens beyond our shores!

    Rob Parry BA(Hons), PGCE, FHEA

  19. Stephen Milburn on February 10, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    We have been doing what Mr Brooking is suggesting for the last 5 years in Belfast in N.Ireland and I can definitely say that the standard at youth level is improving from the old kick and run style we all detest. Childrens decision making as to pass or run with the ball is being left up to them, but, I do see more passing now than ever before. You still get the odd archaic coach who shouts and screams along with parents and wants to ‘win at all costs’, but it is getting rarer and rarer thank goodness. The biggest issue is facilities as was mentioned in one of the statements above, for 5, 7 & 9 aside pitches and local leagues not embracing these directives from the IFA and as such there is nothing but 11 aside from 12 yrs old and up, although I would go for the Dutch model of 14 and up, again, if facilities are made available.

  20. Tim oxley on February 11, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    Sorry but i dont agree with any of the ideas from the FA.

    The first one made me laugh as changing from 7 aside to 5 aside will end up coasting the parents more money. We currently have to pay £25 for our pitch and referee for sunday football and this means that having 8 kids we can cover the costs. Mr brooking is all for more players been on the pitch playing and having more time on the ball, how does this happen if i have 4-5 subs just to cover the costs of the pitch etc. Dont think clubs will get any help from the FA funding wise do you ?

    We currently play in a under 7 league and this season we have played 12, Won 1,Drew 1 and Lost 10 but i am still for introducing league and cup competions at under 9s as this gives the kids something to aim for and look forward to. Surely this is why we start playing at under 7’s so when it comes to under 9’s the kids have had a couple of years playing and getting ready for the league and cup competions they see there heroes involved in on the TV. I think this will put us back as kids that would start at under 7’s will leave it until under 10’s etc and then they have missed years of playing the game.

    I think this is just another effort from the FA to let us know they are there and that they make the decisons, how about helping the clubs and the volunteers that spend there weekends with there children trying to enjoy football.

  21. brian haywood on February 13, 2011 at 11:00 pm

    i think the changes are too radical and think that the way it is at the moment is fine it is up to the coaches to get their players passing the ball and working as a team.
    more funds should be available to grass roots clubs so fa coaching can be easily funded by the clubs.i also think that professional clubs should have open days for local coaches to observe there acadamy training for help and advice

  22. Gareth Burns on February 15, 2011 at 1:02 am

    Most people seem to be missing the point on this forum. The most important change is to stop the madness of 11 aside matches at aged 11.

    These proposals do that. The best players will develop. The bigger boys won’t necessarily be the best players.

    9 aside matches for kids in this age group is the way forward.

    All the ranters should look at themselves and be ashamed.

  23. Alan Greenwood on February 15, 2011 at 8:53 pm

    Words fail me !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Not long a go the FA reduced the grass roots funding by £5m to try and secure the world cup they (FA) must think we are some sort of back ward people who pump in many 100s of hours to either run a team or a league old ivory castle at Wembley needs to send people in the counties and give time for all to have an input in to what is seen best for grass roots football. It would seem that the Academies and S of E in pro clubs is not working to create as they put it another David Beckham after they have taken the alleged cream of the players to train and nurture for many years. Let us see some of the money that is pumped in to pro Clubs to organise mostly friendlies between the Pro Clubs on academies and S of E

  24. M Rooks on February 15, 2011 at 11:45 pm

    I think these changes are all beneficial. We need to keep moving ahead and not be afraid of change. The modern game is changing and we need more technical players, not just depend on the pure physicality of the game.

    The Relative Age Effect is a very important issue that leaves many talented summer born kids out of the game because they aren’t born immediately after September. I would like to see measures implemented as soon as possible with regard to this matter.

    The scottish FA are bringing in these changes next month, why so long in England? I haven’t seen any definite answers to the RAE problem either apart from possible solutions. Firm decisions need to be made to keep in line with the rest of Europe.

  25. Jimmy Woods on February 16, 2011 at 1:38 am

    Reducing the size of the goals for u11s is a good idea and maybe the size of the pitch, but reducing the number of players from 11 to 9?, surely this would mean that there would be less children involved in the sport – I don’t think that there would be many more volunteers jumping on board to set up new clubs with the tight restrictions placed on new entrants.

  26. msb on February 18, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    like all proposals there are good and bad parts. As a club V Chairman and coach i seem to spend all my time jumping through various hoops just to be able to let the players play. The FA does abosolutley nothing to help Clubs, the local FA is non existent in it help for anyone, they only want you money and give you lots of red tape. There is a chronic shortage of facilities for teams to play on, those there are are overpriced £25+ a game plus £18 ref or £4 per player at 11 a side thats before you pay affiliation fees, insurance , crb fees, league fees, equipment, kit, the list goes on and on. The FA forget that every week thousands of volunteers give up their time to run clubs and train players and then get the blame for not training the kids properly. But they don’t give any support to the coaches to get better, the courses they run are not practical to attend unless you have a very understanding family or boss who don’t mind you using up a weeks annual leave to do the course – target the courses at times when “normal” people can attend them and where they don’t have to make any 60 mile round trip to attend them.

    The rant is nearly over , the first thing the FA need to sort out is the “professional” game, sort out the prima donnas in the premiership, hit them where it hurts when they break the rules, long suspensions or dock points, they will all squeal for the first few weeks as they realize how tough the refs are, if you get dissent from a free kick decision move it forward 10m as they do in rugby, send off/sin bin the foul mouthed players.

    And finally stop the clubs etc taking players from the age of 7 into their set ups and boring the players to death, at that age they want to kick a football about with their friends not have all their natural flair trained out of them, so they lose interest or get discarded and made to feel useless because they don’t meet the “required standards” at 7 or 8.

  27. dominic on February 22, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    My son plays u9’s football and loves it’s competitiveness.Brooking says he wants to bring us in line with europe!How many european teams have more than TWO foriegn players?I understand the argument that the Premiership is big money and they want to attract the best,but that gives little scope for our young players to shine through.I say restrict teams to at most half foriegn.

  28. Rob Bailey on February 27, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    Someone famous once said ” if you keep doing the same things,you get the same results!” – we need to change our outlook from the bottom ( thats us at grassroots ) upwards.These ‘revolutionary’ changes have been in force at places like Barcelona & Ajax for donkeys years and don’t seem to have affected their ‘win mentality’ – its the way forward and its different so we need to embrace it & give it a proper go!

  29. daniel powell on April 1, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    i think this is a case of overpaid moron (brooking) coming up with stupid ideas…..why change it, how exactly would it be better for football. Why would it produce better and inept players????
    The fa are wrong and brooking is wrong, 9-a-side is good but most kids want to play full 11a-side, so come on fa back off and leave kids leagues alone!

  30. Mark Powell on June 17, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    I am a school teacher and I think elements of this proposal are good. I am tired of kids coming to games with the attitude and arrogance that they learn by watching TV and they are allowed to get away with on the weekend.

    Too many children who dominate our game do so because they are big, strong and fast, but are technically poor.

    Hopefully these changes will allow our technically gifted children to progress and this will then transfer into senior football.

    As a father of a child who is just about to begin playing football at Under 8 level I am looking forward to watching a game of football that is played in the true manner of sport where they strive hard to do their best, but don’t have to put up with parents who only understand the game from a ‘win at all costs’ perspective.

  31. Paul Williams on June 21, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    I am an U8 Coach moving to U9 next season and have a 14 year old son who has played since he was 8 and have enjoyed the thrills, spills and wonderful memories that I will have forever.

    I think there are some interesting comments with some varied views using such references to Ajax and Barcelona, making points that Grass Roots Football Clubs do not move the players around and Mr Brooking stating that the Goalkeeper should play outfield.

    Rob Bailey earlier stated in this blog “if you keep doing the same things,you get the same results!”. You know what I completely agree! However if I’m not mistaken Academy Football already play non-competitive, so I guess if we introduce this into Grass Roots they will go into decline as well but as least they will be ready for Academy status.

    Strange that the Government have just announced the “In It To Win It” campaign in schools to give back the competitive and winning mentality edge. If change is needed it should come from the FA via visiting Coaches to Grass Roots Affiliated Clubs to advise Coaches, like myself, of new ways of thinking and how we can get the best from our players whilst making sure that they have fun.

    With regards to parents, the FA should insist that all registrations must be accompanied every year with a Respect Certificate completed online by both (where applicable) Parents/Carers.

    There are not enough Goalkeepers and those players that want to excell in this position which is a very unique position in football and played by very patient and brave young people. Mr Brooking wants to play down this position which is what most people have a tendancy to do. It would be interesting to see what Joe Hart did in his younger years considering he is in his early 20’s.

    Also the FA should insist that Academy Football should have a minimum of 75% GBR players, and maybe they should play competitive to get used to the winning mentality.

  32. John Gontier on January 1, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    Football seems to be Footrun in England. Nextstars is helping get the Ball back – http://www.premiershiptalk.com/index.php?s=portuense

  33. Wyborn on January 9, 2012 at 12:19 am

    Totally agree with these changes however these smaller pitches mean the physicality aspect doesn’t go away.I have a technically gifted 7 year old who up the park amazes older children with his maturity.But come football day he is shoulder barged and given no time or space to develope his skills as some managers drill their kids to be aggresive.Also children are of all heights and speeds when younger this aggravates the situation more.Be more radical play football under head height with goalkeepers not drop kicking the length of the field,until under 10s.

    Barcelona academy lose until the under 11 age group then no one can touch them, let them all develope their touch and technique these changes are long overdue.Managers need to be monitored as well and always have an independent ref

  34. Sally on May 14, 2012 at 10:09 am

    My eight year old son was spotted by a football development coach whilst playing in a local tournement and has since be training twice weekly with Yeovil Town. (We live in Taunton Somerset). His coach recently suggested my son doing trials for the Centre of Excellence which would take his training to the next level. Since that conversation, the FA changes mean no Centre of Excellence – where do we go from here? It seems that we are lacking in opportunity because of the area we live in which seems wholey unfair. Maybe you could give me a suggestion of how he can move forward with his passion.

  35. Malcolm Calow on October 21, 2012 at 12:42 am

    My grandson age 13 has been at Sheff Utd for over 3 years in Development Squad. He has had 2 trials in their Academy.

    Now their Development has disbanded due to new measures from FA. How does my Grandson now get the Development at thge level he was receiving. He is now back with his club.

    How has the new scheme helped him???

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