FA proposals for youth football – have your say!

The English FA has proposed changes to the structure of youth football in England.

This month’s edition of The Club House features a detailed review of the changes – click here to view.

We’re really keen to hear what you think about the proposals and their implications for the grassroots game if they are accepted.

Are you in favour of the increase in small-sided football and raising the age at which children play 11-a-side?

Would you be pleased like the mandatory introduction of the 9v9 game? What do you think of scrapping league tables until under 12s?

Whatever you think on any of the issues, let us know in the comments section below. We’ll collate all of your feedback and send it back to the FA so that it can feed back into the current consultation process.

Look forward to hearing what you have to say!

Dan Pope on LinkedinDan Pope on Twitter
Dan Pope
Writer at Teamer
Freelance writer, editor and copywriter, specialising in football and with a passion for grassroots sport. Former editor at Club Website.

Take the hassle out of organising your sports team with Teamer. Organise, communicate and take payments.

383 Comments

  1. Lewis Evans on February 28, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    I am currently the manager and head coach of an under 8’s team in Bristol, this is our last season of friendlies before we go into a league, something myself and my other coaches are dreading, we have spent three years with the same group of boys, we work on technical ability providing as many touches of the ball as possible, the boys are so keen to learn that we have found the simple games they played as reception and year 1 boys are long gone and they already understand technical drills from our level 2 football qualifications, they enjoy the decision making, the stop start ofthe coached game and ask alot of questions on how and what they are doing, once we have the pressure of league football everything will be lost, all the hard work etc as we will be under pressure to win games and succeed, if we don’t parents will take their children to other clubs leaving us in a position where we risk being beaten every week, what enjoyment will that be for the boys. I for one and I know many other coaches would like to see the abolishment of leagure football from the start of next season with maybe just an organised cup competition, playing friendlies the boys develop and learn far more and gain a greater understanding and love for the game, we’ve played with this idea for long enough, lets stop mess about and implement it NOW.

  2. David Rowbottom on February 28, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    While I applaud many of the initatives, we, and I would imagine many of the clubs we play against, do not have the room on our playing field for intermediate pitch and find it hard to find to get indoor facilities. Do the FA have funds available to help clubs overcome this?

  3. darran walton on February 28, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    i am coach of an under 10s team and have only been involved for 3 years but all these proposals seem very obvious to me, 10 years olds on an adult pitch is ludicrous. bring 9v9 in as early as next season, how many more kids will be turned off before the proposals are in place

  4. James Byrne on February 28, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    Do the FA ever plan to look at changing youth football to run more in the summer months?

    We have had so many games called off this year with snow, ice and now waterlogged pitches yet the same pitches will go unused throughout the summer months!

    If they really want children to develop technically then they need to be playing on decent pitches as often as possible instead of going 2-3 months of the season without a match due to winter. World cups are always played in the summer.

    Surely it would be better if youth football ran from March to November with a 4-6 week break in the middle for tournaments?

  5. Derek Graham on February 28, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    Commenting on all the proposals:
    a) Increase in small-sided football – generally agree, though I would argue that 7 v 7 could be started at U8 not U9.
    b) I believe 9 v 9 is an excellent intermediatery step and I and other coaches/managers I know do share the concern over the large step from 7 v 7 to 11 v 11 etc. Despite the possible difficulties , you have my full support on this.
    c) Competitive – not in general agreement. Though the argument to not start competitive leages before U10 is a powerful one. But I believe ‘not before U12’ is too late. The kids enjoy the matches. Perhaps shorter ‘two-leagues’ per season (i.e. half-seasons) would be the answer.
    d) Summer football – in moderation. Personally my coaches and I really need the summer break to refresh ourselves and renew our enthusiasm.
    e) Age group changes – tend to agree with the new proposals.
    f) Timetable seems about right.
    In summary, the 9 v 9 suggestion is by far my favourite here.

  6. GT on February 28, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    While the idea of 9v9 in is great for under 11 – under 13 it will only work if duel markings are allowed on exsisting pitches, if the extra room is not available at clubs. Will the established adult leagues be up for this idea? Another way round it is if the adoption of the ethos that 5v5 – 7v7 mini soccer has in that pitches can be marked off using marker cones.

    Also why the jump to full size goals at under 13 seems a strange decision. Why not keep the smaller goals until under 15. I have seen plenty of keepers struggle in adult goals at this age and what do attackers gain also. Lots of clubs have 21×7 goals on 80×50 pitches so why not use them or stick with the 16×7 for under 13. The pitch sizings again why would you want under 13 playing on full size pitch to me under 14 onwards is the minumun age this should be introduced.

    No league tables untill under 12 is also a much better idea as long as there is a way of matching teams up so that games between teams are well matched. When you see scores of 11-0 who is learning certainly not the team who is getting beat but also the team who wins what have they gained apart from a coach who thinks that goal difference is all that matters.

    Its too late for our current team i coach but hopefully future generations can benifit from a step in the right direction of a childrens centred approach to grass roots football on much more age appropiate pitches/ goals and team numbers, with the emphasis on their long term development.

  7. Jim Crathern on February 28, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    I have been coaching football for over 10 years. now, being with both my sons through youth football who are now 20 and 18. They both now play for a Saturday adult team that I coach where the youngest player is 17 and the eldest is only 26. I want to share something with you that struck me as being very significant. we were laying 3rd in the table, and were just about to play 2nd place. With only 1pt in it, it was an important game. We played the best football we had ever played, with our passing game absolutley superb. All our training with small sided games and lots of touches of the ball had paid off. I was buzzing and very proud of my players. So here’s the funny thing. We lost the game 1 0 in the last 5 minutes. In the changing room whilst praising the performance of my players, the elder players were swearing and moaning and threatning to quit and complaining that our season was now over. However, the younger players, though disappointed that we lost were delighted with the way we played and looked forward to playing again as soon as possible. Winning was only secondary in their eyes. So in my view, attitudes are very slowly changing in the younger generation who have been coached in clubs with qualified coaches. The above proves that. So if anything can change the way us English once viewed the game, bring it on. 5v5 7v7 9v9? More touches of the ball? Not so much inportance attached to winning? I’m all over that, Superb and about time!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Simon Robinson on February 28, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    I have coached my team since they were 7, coming through the friendly league to competitive under 9 football this season. We play for the enjoyment of the kids and try to make sure our parents understand that ant don’t put too much pressure on the kids
    I applaud many of the inititatives above, especially the 9v9 step at 11/12 (our league already has 9v9 at u11)
    However there are challenges – my club has 14 teams currently from u8 to u17, and limited space and money to implement some of these changes – the FA will need to step up and support clubs and grassroots footall for this to become a reality.
    On a negative note, the suggestion of summer football I find confused and uneccessary. Many boys and girls already have commitments during the summer months with other sports such as cricket, and my pre seasons with the kids for the past 2 years have been littered with players unavavilable due to summer holidays – organising football teams and games (and pitches – many are shared with cricket!) is a challenging role at the best of times, but to have to do so agaist other sports and logistical issues adds complication where there need not be any.
    If its too cold for a child to play, then it should be the responsibility of the coaches and referee to not play the fixture in the first place if the weather is inappropriate – thats something you learn as part of Child Welfare on your Level 1. No child should be forced to play in adverse weather, the adults should be responsible for that.
    The idea of a winter break for juniors would be a wholly better solution between December and January (perhaps a week into Dec to midway through Jan)
    I have mixed feelings on the competitive fixtures question, as most under 8’s leagues and players, despite not having results published, know who the better teams are. I’ve enjoyed our first season in competitive football, we are second bottom of our league but have again progressed as a team from where we were last season. The step to 9v9 will be a positive one, but personally I don’t think we should treat competition as a dirty word – kids are a reflection of their managers, coaches and parents, so its what we as adults instill into them that produces the ethos of the team – mine is about improvement and enjoyment, thats not the same for all the teams in our league, but thats fine (isn’t it?) – real football and competition in my mind will start at 11 a side anyway, but having leagues etc at this age now is a good thing.
    The FA would be better to stop kids who play for academies and are already registered or train with clubs from playing with these age groups – one superstar player on any team at this age makes a mockery of some games – the rules are a bit grey as to who can and cannot play, and I doubt its policed at all

  9. sean stobbs on February 28, 2011 at 5:44 pm

    I agree with a lot of the proposals being put forward. 9 v9 is a great idea, providing funding is available for grass roots clubs. summer football should have been implemented years ago. However the idea of football festivals of mixed teams refd by children is in my opinion unfeasible & would be anarchy. But on the whole the proposals are very positive.

  10. chris macrae on February 28, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    Some of the proposals are fantastic especially the 9 v 9 introduction but others such as introducing 5 v 5 are questionable. I run mini soccer teams currently ATFC u7’s in Nottingham & we have a total football approach & encourage increased touches of the ball anyway which frustratingly seems to be the exception rather than rule that we come across. We do embrace small sided games in training which are proven to help technique but the average coach will still take the win at all costs approach to 5 v 5 & lose the benefit of this format so the sooner we rid the game of them the better. The Mourihno comments will be lost on them still so what will changing the format achieve? Less children will play football & you will have less people able to take them so this I am against especially when we have the correct approach to mini soccer – total football/100% development.

  11. Kevin Farrelly on February 28, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    I manage and coach an u10’s team who will be going into 11-a-side for the first time next season. The team recently played in a friendly 11-a-side game and it quickly became very clear that the boys were still playing 7-a-side football Of course this came as no suprise as the step up to the larger pitch is a totally different proposition to these boys. The proposed change to go from 7v7 to 9v9 rather than straight to the 11-a-side format would be a huge step in the right direction for all grass roots football and would be a massive benefit for development of players and all those who take part. These proposals make complete sense and should have been made a long long time ago. I agree with the previous poster who suggested there should be no delay and changes should come into force for all u11’s in the 2011/12 season with u12’s staying with 11-a-side as they have played this format for this past year. Why wait?

  12. Danny Gibson on February 28, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    At long last and way overdue, logical thinking and time for all to embrace! Just hope it gets the vote to go ahead then maybe the Nation could sincerely consider being a credible contender for winning a World Cup for some time in the future! More importantly, listen to those kids and realise it’s what they want.

  13. Lynda Bradford on February 28, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    Since the theme of these changes seem to be against putting young children under pressure, I feel the biggest offenders for this seem to be Professional Club academies and development squads.
    These players are not expected to “have fun” and I personally think it is ridiculous to take them into an Academy environment so young.
    At this early age it should be, as stated by Nick Levitt himself, about enjoying playing with friends, not about trying to “impress” the Academies in the hope they may keep you on.
    A player who looks really good at 8-11yrs may not necessarily be one of the “better” players by the time they reach, say 14yrs.
    I am not sure if the Academy staff are aware of the rejection a young child can feel when ‘released’ and what damage it does to their confidence.
    What would be the problem in just monitoring a young player that they feel may have a talent for the game and taking them into the Academy ‘system at about between 14 and16 years of age?
    At least Sunday League managers and Schools District Associations are run by volunteers who give up their time to run teams and develop players for the benefit of the children and not as a business venture.
    If we really want to make football more fun for all children, stopping these professionals from taking them at such a young age would be the starting point for me.
    After all, how many of the thousands of 8-12yr olds taken on since the inception of the Academy system have actually gone on to be professional players or indeed even been kept on for more than a couple of years?

  14. Simon Icke on February 28, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    THIS POEM IS USED THROUGHOUT THE UK BY A NUMBER OF FA ASSOCIATIONS AND JUNIOR FOOTBALL CLUBS AS A POSITVE MESSAGE FOR ADULTS WHEN WATCHING CHILDREN PLAY FOOTBALL FROM THE TOUCHLINE:

    It is a very good thing you are trying to do… Yes, you can use my poem ‘TOUCHLINE SHOUTING’ on your web site, so long as you acknowledge me as the author and mention this poem is subject to copyright and is being used with permission from the author. both on your web site and in paper format please.

    PLEASE PUBLISH THE POEM LIKE THIS PLEASE:

    Touchline Shouting

    Touchline shouting, that’s all I ever hear,
    I’m so confused and filled with fear.
    I’m only ten years old and football should be fun,
    But with all this noise I don’t know which way to run.
    “Get back in defence!” my manager shouts.
    Dad shouts, “Get up front and deal with these louts!”
    Loud mouth supporter, who knows all the rules.
    (He takes the rest of us for fools)
    Shouts, “What are you doing lad? Your head’s in a spin!”
    Is it any surprise, with all this din?

    I am only a boy, so why do you all try to destroy, what I’d love to enjoy?

    FOOTBALL SHOULD BE FUN!

    by Simon Icke

    Published with permission from author Simon Icke Copyright 1998 Aston Clinton, Bucks. UK.

  15. Fernando Silva on February 28, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    Why not Futsal?!?!?

  16. philip byfield on February 28, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    hi all looking at the new direction of the fa etc i must point out 3-4 years ago u8s could not play in a league it was called the frendly league and i have to say i agree with what they did , i also agree in what they are trying to bring in with the 9×9 many people that i have spoken would agree with you there where i disagree is the loss of our mini football leagues , do not go down the road of spanish football or italian football. this is the problem every where you go in this country there is outside intrests ie sports centers who allow young boys and girls to play in leagues they are not under any banner ie the local leagues they are out on there own no crb checks , just taking money as for the local team if you take away the leagues from the clubs these boys @girls will go there and leave there football club , also can you tell me why dorset are in the respect campaign hampshire are to but why is the byfl not in it , for the sake of the kids they should be made to , do not make the mistake that other countrys have a better system then ours , leave the leagues alone , as you will distroy the whole framework of english football

  17. Adrian Wood on February 28, 2011 at 11:04 pm

    Small sided games, especially 9v9 at U11/U12 are fantastic; we played in a 9v9 league last season at U11 and it was the perfect step up from 7v7 mini-soccer.

    However, the proposal for overcoming the ‘Relative Age Effect’ is crass! Children born in the first half of the year are not going to want players from the ‘year below them’ (as they would see it) in their team; and those born from September are going to want to play with the rest of their school friends, not those in the ‘year above’.
    In any case, this just moves the ‘age effect’ from Jun-Sep to Jan-Mar; a huge upheaval with marginal benefit.

  18. paul cummings on February 28, 2011 at 11:13 pm

    i have had a poll on our website asking if youth football be played from march to september 70% say yes 23% say no and 7% aren’t sure since we lose loads of games in the winter. but all theses new proposals the fa are looking to bring in are good but should of been introduced earlier my under 10’s are going to find it hard next season but there aren’t enough facilities than will be able to provide a 9v9 pitch and what about the smaller goals who is going to pay for them?

  19. Ian on March 1, 2011 at 12:56 am

    I welcome the proposed changes, it all seems fairly obvious.
    My comments allude to development and excellence centers.
    I have 3 boys, one of them is very good at football, he was scouted and now trains at the local excellence center. I have noticed a number of things as he went through development training. The main thing is the old not what you know or how good you are but who you know. Maybe their dad knows the coaches or the mum is very good at networking, there are various reasons. The outcome is that somebody, in deed quite a lot of somebodies, with real potential, are not there. For me the good players work hard, look up, pass, move into space, have a good first touch, have good skills, work for the team and have some vision. The over dribblers, glory seekers and goal moochers might look good but they are not the way forward. What you really want are the best players. That means attitude and ability.

    Another very odd thing is that they don’t play very many games. They regularly don’t play a game at the end of training. They don’t play a game once a week against a similar strength team. I’m not sure how you judge a player without watching a number of competitive normal size team games. If I didn’t know the Manchester Utd team I’m pretty sure I couldn’t tell who was the better player purely from training sessions. I tend to form my opinion from the way they play in a game against similar strength teams. You can see a lot in training but training is there to develop skills, which you hope to see in matches.

    Maybe it’s just my experience but there seems to be a distinct lack of what positions suit players or where they’re best at playing. There appear to be a plethora of strikers but you need defenders and midfielders and they need to know their positions at an early age. The oddest thing is that the local youth team managers know what they’re looking for and they generally get that information from games. They seem to have a much better idea than the local development centre and yet the development centre is the stepping stone to our future footballers.

    Lack of discipline is another worrying aspect of youth football, some of it inspired by what I can only describe as cheating professionals, poor parenting and poor managers. Respect is a word used a lot in football but I see precious little of it in football. The attitude by players, managers and parents to referees and their assistants can be disgusting. I would be happy to see straight reds for swearing or any dissent. You could put money on the game being cleaned up fairly quickly if that happened. Parents and managers want their team to win, the team is less likely to win with less players – end of dissent.

    My final point. We live in a bit of a backwater and it worries me that kids in areas like ours are not properly represented. There must be lots of talented regional players around but I feel an opportunity is being missed. Surely all the good players don’t just come from London and the Midlands? Getting the best players for club and country should not have an element of where they are located.

  20. Simon Eyre on March 1, 2011 at 9:03 am

    You quote Mourhino regarding Spanish and Portuguese kids not being taught to win but to play. What has Portugal ever won in professional football? OK, Spain are currently number one but until recently they were under performers like England. What about Italy and Germany. Both countries who drill in the importance of winning, both have had their successes over a more consistent and longer times-pan.

    Mourhino is quoted (a manager who, unlike many foreign managers actually liked the competitive spirit of English players and picked more than others for his Chelsea side). I heard Beckenbaur and Klinsmann in a recent TV documentary about England’s inability to win tournaments. They contradicted Mourhino both saying that the difference between Germany and England was that German kids were taught from a very early age to win at all costs…

    Surely the problem we have is that we’re confusing the kids with half-measures. In life there are winners and losers. Someone who isn’t a “winner” at football might be a winner at hockey, rugby or even a non-sporting pastime. Surely we should let these kids get on a find their “thing”. As usual we’re letting political correctness and the views of a few vocal academics dictate a society where winners are frowned upon…

  21. Lewis Evans on March 1, 2011 at 10:37 am

    On reading all the comments I think its obvious that these changes should be implemented, we had a managers meeting last night the one question that came up was the 9 v 9 and whether the decision would be to have two teams of 9 or reduce our squads for two seasons then hope to regain players again to take the teams into 11 a-side, personally I think we should continue with two games, I currently run with a squad of 18 so how do I tell 8 or 9 of these players in two years time we don’t want you but come back again in two years when we will want you, still alot of grey areas especially around that and the cost and space required for the extra pitch and goals etc, I agree with all the FA want to do but we don’t want to run the risk of forcing boys and girls out of the game then getting them back in again when we want them.

  22. Warren Wright on March 1, 2011 at 11:26 am

    1. 9v9 proposals, fully agree. Current system is daft for all the reasons quoted. Also allows more teams to stay together – difficult to go from a squad of 9 to one of 15.
    2. Leave tables as they are. This could end up getting silly – why not just take the goalposts away! Do away with “stats” i.e. top goalscorers until the end of the season.
    3. Summer football – no thanks. Need a break and kids of this age should be playing tennis, cricket, athletics, playing on their bikes etc.

    Further point – U8 level is the ideal opportunity to allow young refs to train. Why isn’t it being used?

  23. Jim ORourke on March 1, 2011 at 11:57 am

    This should be considered AFTER clubs are given funding for decent facilities. It looks to me as if the lack of proper facilities for clubs is just being ignored when it ought to be the Number 1 Priority.

  24. Tony Wilson on March 1, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    I agree with all of your proposals, small sided games and no points are the way forward for kids.

    The main problem however is some coaches with inflated egos who trial young kids, some of these managers/coaches want the best players in order to win 15-0 every week, the teams that get thrashed by such a huge margin could have a star of the future themseves 1 day, but most will give the game up.

    The ones who thrash eveyone all the time usually give up the game because of manager, coach and parent pressure.

    That’s why we need big changes, teams with mixed ability, not dream teams. It needs to be difficult to win a match, that’s natural competiveness.

  25. Simon Robinson on March 1, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    @WarrenWright – summed up my original post in far less words 🙂
    Well said sir.

    I think we all agree on 9v9 as the way forward.

    The ‘leagues’ and ‘competition’ will always be subjective and opinions formed – I think its good for kids to know where they are in the order of things and to look to try and achieve a higer ranking

    Summer football is just a bad idea all round – I need a rest from football! We only get about 10 weeks as it is!

  26. Pete Brown on March 1, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    Very much in favour of 9v9 progression, smaller goal size makes a lot of sense. The leap from 7v7 to 11v11 is too great, the players see less of the ball and are lost on full size pitches.
    I believe that mini football based on a monthly tournament at a central all weather venue played on a round robin format is the way to go. It gives 3 weeks of structured training and then something for the kids to really look forward to. This format works, it is what we currently do at under 10 level in the Somerset girls football league.

  27. Rick Rosewarn on March 1, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    9v9 maybe the right stepping stone but who is going to pay for the different goal posts? Council’s won’t and what if you don’t have room to mark out a 9v9 pitch.
    You need a league table otherwise how are you going to decide who plays which teams. No point having a good team playing not so good teams every week. We were put in the wrong 11 aside league. We were put in div 2 rather than div 4 (6 leagues) and we lost all bar 3 games which was a killer for the players. I would not want to see any team go through what we did that year.
    Plus Kids like to know how they are doing and by not having a league table do you think that kids are not going to want to win a match? They have league tables for junior cricket, tennis, squash, and badminton … there are medals for junior athletics, cycling and rowing .. SO why should football not be competative until the age of 13?
    It sounds a good idea but its riddled with issues and obsticles. At the end of the day what do the kids want … has anyone asked them?
    My team loved moving from 7v7 to 11v11 when they were 10 and took to the bigger pitch and offisde really well and loved the fact they were playing PROPPER FOOTBALL and not mini soccer.
    When I was a kid I played 11 aside football for cubs and my team from the age of 7 and 8 I think … Where were England in the 70’s and 80’s ? Doing quite well really so are these chnages going to make England football better in 10 years time?

  28. Eddy McEntire on March 1, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    I am the Chairman of a youth football club , i attend a lot of youth football games , i see a lot of managers and parents screaming at youngsters from the touchline , at the moment there is a win at all cost mentality . I have often asked parents to quieten down and let the boys enjoy the game , the answer i often get is ” we need to win ” it seems to mean more to the parents and managers than it does to the boys and girls .
    I will support any change that gives the sport back to the children , if these changes mean we get rid of the loud mouth element from the sport , than the quicker its implemented the better .

    Eddy McEntire

  29. Warren Wright on March 1, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    There seems to be a common theme on here about “where are we going to get the goalposts from for 9v9”.
    Envisage the post next World Cup analysis where the FA spokesman says “sorry but we’re just not getting the kids coming through anymore – can’t seem to get any goalposts”.
    Surely the home of football should also be home of the goalpost – I mean…….really!

  30. GERRY WARD on March 1, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    What have ENGLAND won since 1966? Nothing y? Because players have not been good enough y ? Because they haven’t been allowed develop as players ,why ? Because the vast majority of parents and coaches judge Development from League tables!look at other countries and look at the facts they don’t lie,how many english players played in the recent champions league games? Compare that to other countries?so my summary is lets develop players at early age without must win attitude,time for the cavemen people to look at reality,grassroots football needs changing.SIMPLE!

  31. shaun quirk on March 1, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    i am also a chairman of a junior club but am also a parent of players and a team manager and these changes are ridiculous i remember the fa saying too much competion is wrong now they are saying more school football behave let the people who run grassroots have the choice dont make it mandatory let the leagues they play in vote which way they gothe fa executive comittee dont even listen to thier own members because after all the fa must be the biggest club in the world yet the members never get to vote on important issues that matter to them its time to change yes but from the very top that is the place to start not the very bottom get a grip and start where it matters rooney once again gets away with a serious matter yet kids get long bans for less yet his is on national telly in front of millions how do i tell a 10 year old you cant do that yet rooney gets away with it THAT IS WHATS WRONG with our game

  32. shaun quirk on March 1, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    too be honest i run a junior club and they are going to force us to close the club we run on a shoe string and these changes are a step too far these people who sit on the exuctive half of whom have never played football gave out that u13s would be the cut off age for mixed teams then 4 weeks before start of season changed it to remain as per season before they are killing the game why dont they ASK THE PEOPLE RUNNING GRASSROOT FOOTBALL WHAT WE WANT instead of what they want

  33. Andy Smith on March 1, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    Re: Ians comment – Felt a shudder run down my spine reading this, exactly what I feel is wrong in grassroots football.

    Giving, and coaching, young players specific ‘positions’ at a young age is ridiculous. Just let them play and express themselves and get a feel for playing all over the pitch. Every week I’ll have players come to me and say “can I have a go in defence/midfield/attack this week” and i’m extremely happy to accommodate them. It’s about giving them a complete education. You wouldn’t send your kids to school to only learn english.

    Each Sunday I ensure that all of my players play in at least 2 positions (most of them play in 3) and guess what, they love it. We got beat 2-0 and 2-1 last weekend but we played some beautiful technical football and had the opposition manager drooling over the all round skills of our players, even commenting that he “needs to get his team playing like that”.

    Also, what is an “over dribbled”? I want my players to be confident on the ball and I encourage them to show off during games. Who cares if they lose the ball, they’ll learn from it . Todays “over dribblers” are tomorrows Ronaldo’s and Messi’s.

    Personally I think that almost everything that the FA have done since the World Cup will have a positive effect on grassroots football, from ‘The Future Game’ and the new proposals through to Gareth Southgates appointment and I for one am really excited by the future.

    Finally, got to agree with Mark Chapman in his interview. Yes there are some rogue coaches out there but, in my experience, the vast majority are decent, dedicated volunteers who are trying to ensure that their players are having fun. The rogues don’t tend to last long anyway.

  34. Simon Godfrey on March 1, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    I think the ideas are a step in the right direction for youth development in this country and I’m really glad that the FA have taken time to talk to players, coaches and clubs at a grassroots level.

    I’m relatively new to coaching so I only know what I’ve experienced with my U7s this season and what I’ve heard from other coaches but less competitive football at a younger age and a move to make football more accessible (i.e. no frozen pitches) is exactly the sort of areas which needed to be looked at.

    Simon
    http://footballcoaching.wordpress.com

  35. Roy Stanford on March 1, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    I am very surprised that yet again there are to be more changes, Are these based upon a Nationwide survey or just the opinions /ideas of a few ?. “One size does not fit all” would seem to be the appropriate comment to a proposed national scheme. In some areas there may not be sufficient space to allow Leagues of 11 a side pitches whereas in rural areas this is not a problem. Some areas have well developed football traditions and coaches/managers who having training regimes geared to them.

    Some areas of the country have well supported formats of 7, 9 a side or 11 a side starting at age 10. My son (playing since he was an U7) and all the lads in his squad have enjoyed and benefited considerably from playing 11 a side at age 10. There is a view that 11 a side comes to early but the preparation for the transition can be made much easier by the quality of training to improve the fitness and develop new styles of playing. By allowing several subs in matches the problem of players becoming “too tired” can be overcome.

    My son’s group was ready for 11 a side, they were fed up of playing 7 & 9 a side mini tournaments so were the parents. The idea of not having League Tables would be detrimental to the game ,whether top or bottom, first division second or third, in my experience the youngsters train/turnout for their matches with the same enthusiasm each time. They like the competition, it adds to the excitement of trying to beat a top team, or if your team is on top making sure you are not embarrassed. All the youngsters in my son’s club are exceptionally well trained and have always adopted a professional approach to the game win or lose the enthusiasm has never faltered. The rivalry between clubs here is tremendous, it has led to a an improvement in the standard of play. In my son’s school he regularly meets fellow players from different clubs. His Year 7 11 a side school team has players from 5 clubs and if it was less than 11 a side he wouldn’t be playing. It’s okay for Summer tournaments 5, 6 or 7 a side but not if you are playing in a League or it’s a cup match.

    Luckily in my son’s league we are blessed with excellent clubs and managers who are dedicated to the 11 a side format from age 10. There have been families move down here from city areas and been surprised at the number of clubs from which to choose and the amount of competition available.

    Individual Leagues should be allowed to choose the system that best suits them. This approach is in keeping with the recent government initiative to let local people decide local matters within a general national framework.

  36. Lozz Rose on March 1, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    Every August 600 sixteen year old boys join clubs on professional scholarship contracts. less than 30% will be awarded full professional contracts when these reach 18 and by the time they are 21, 500 of these original 600 boys will not be involved in the professional game at all. Every season 10,000 boys between the ages of 8-16 are involved in academies or centres of excellences of which only 1% will ever play professional football of any description. So whose fault is that? Well,over 60% of players in the Premiership being foreign players hardly enhances the opportunity for our own kids to make the grade does it. If the FA want to implement these latest proposals such as 5v5 7v7 9v9 formats let them go ahead at acamedies, who supposedly have the more talented kids to work with with in any given area, and let the other 99% of children who haven’t a hope of ever becoming a pro player just get on with playing in whatever format they wish in their youth leagues. Why should kids football in its entirety be affected by such stringent changes just for the sake of the 1% of boys who eventually become pro footballers. The FA is trying to play God to children and is also taking away parental rights. I speak as somebody who has now been involved in kids football as coach and administrator for nearly 40 years

  37. Carl Page on March 1, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    So England fail again and we immediately look to overhaul grass roots football. In my opinion the FA needs to sort out the top end of the game first otherwise it does not matter what we do at grass roots because the opportunities for good young english players in the top leagues are so limited.

    I coach a rural under 9s team playing mini soccer. It is our first experience of a league structure and the players are thriving due to playing competitive football each week which is challenging them.

    The biggest problem we face is the lack of facilities. It is fine to speak of indoor football when you are in large towns but it will not work in rural areas.

    Yes there is the Player Development Centre at our nearest professional club, but this is almost an hours drive starting at 5pm.

    The grass roots game is heavily reliant on many volunteers, but also supportive parents. The FA needs to ensure facilities are in place to make it easier for coaches and parents to develop the young players. It is no coincidence that there is a lack of players making the grade from rural areas.

    I would like to know where Mr Levett has carried out his consultation and whether he has ever been involved in football at the real grass roots level.

    Finally, I am not opposed to change but I am afraid I do not see the benefit in most of the proposals in this report.

  38. dave pearson on March 1, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    My team next year is moving into 11 a side fooball , and think it is too much of a big step up from 7 a side ,think 9v9 is best for a couple of years , would like it brought in asap otherwise it not fair on teams all ready playing 11 aside to perhaps have to change to that, 5v5 in 7-8s is wrong as well should be 15mins a half not 20 like present , as some of them are taking the first steps on the fooball ladder so should be eased in to it .

  39. Kevin Jordan on March 1, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    Although I agree in principle with most of the proposed changes, I’m fairly sure who will be paying the cost of introducing these ideas. I have been involved in youth soccer for 5 years starting at under 8, and each year the kids/parents/sponsors have to pay for all kits, equipment, training facilities, pitches, referees and the FA for the privilage of playing football. The managers and coaches, who are unpaid volunteers, have to pay the FA to gain coaching badges, coaching resources, CRB checks, and other requirements that are mandatory in order for children to play football.

    It makes my blood boil when I keep hearing about how much money is being invested into grassroots football, when in my experience every time the FA comes up with proposals, it always means extra cost for clubs who have to rely on volunteers and sponsors to make sure kids can play football

  40. John Ransom on March 2, 2011 at 10:04 am

    My son is currently signed to a League One club’s Centre of Excellence at Under 11 level. His team has just supposedly moved up to 11 a side since Christmas although in reality, half of their games have been 9 v 9. The trouble with 9 x 9 is the pitches used are generally the same as 8v8 and rather than more goalscoring opportunities there are considerably less due to congestion of players as is reflected in the lower scores. Also we have lost games due to water logged pitches. The suggestion of indoor alternatives must be a joke as the facilities in our part of the country are not available or fully booked and expensive.
    I applaud the FA for trying to improve the standard of our young players and watching the excellent coaching my son gets, I feel there is hope for the future. All the teams he plays try to keep the ball on the deck and watching their matches is more enjoyable than most adult football right up to The Championship where muscle is preferred to craft.

  41. Jamie on March 2, 2011 at 10:40 am

    Wonder if the FA will read the comments on here…that would be a step in the right direction.

    Jamie

    @sapipa_fc

  42. Club Website on March 2, 2011 at 10:47 am

    Jamie – we’ll be collating all of the comments and sending them to the FA, although we know the man behind the proposals, Nick Levett (@footynick), has already been on here to take a look.

    The CW Team

  43. mr leon thompson on March 2, 2011 at 10:47 am

    hi, re age affect, i was just wondering how the proposals will affect my son , hes a august born child , he in the u 11s at the moment, what ideas has the fa got for my sons age group/summer born??? Any feed back would be great!!!!

  44. Andy Smith on March 2, 2011 at 10:51 am

    Wow, you can really tell what type of coaches people are from their comments on here. There’s the ‘if we’re winning I must be a great coach’ coach, the ‘i’ve done it like this for 50 years and I know best” coach and, thankfully, quite a few “I get my buzz from seeing players developing their ability, regardless of score”. It’s not hard to decide who you would (or should) have coaching your own children.

    The FA have looked at how other European countries do it and have taken what is regarded as best practise from Spain, the Netherlands, Barcelona and Ajax to name a few. The fact that the FA are paying this much attention is a positive step in itself.

    Embrace the changes people, It’s up to us as grassroots coaches to develop the football ability of young players in this country. Why else do you do it?

  45. Phil on March 2, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    I am all for trying anything new if it helps develope the kids but no matter what we change the main thing in my eyes that needs to happen is the time of year the fixtures are played. As has been highlighted by many coaches the amount of fixtures that fall by the way side due to bad weather is ridiculous and the fact that at the young ages the fixtures are not rescheduled due to the fact they are not competitive games means that kids miss out on alot of football. Also playing in the winter months can put the kids off playing due to the temperatures when what we want is for them to be playing with smiles on their faces not standing shivering or crying when the ball has hit them cos its stung with being so cold. The idea of playing indoors is a possible solution but as mentioned on a previous comment the added cost of doing this falls back on to the clubs. I hope a solution can be found.

  46. Lewis Evans on March 2, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    I have to agree with Andy Smith’s comments about technical ability and allowing the boys and girls to express themselves, I run Football Fundays during half-terms and am astonised at the amount of children who are unable to do basic technical skills such as step-overs, drag backs etc, some of these are as old as 12 and 13. We focus on all of this at our training sessions, in fact some parents have said we do too much, but like Andy we encourage the children to express themselves during a match, it’s not showing-off and it’s great to see, but what is nice to see is all of them having a go at it, I don’t need to tell them when or where to do a skill, they will learn that making the mistake themselves, have a look around at the great players in the game at the moment, the Messi’s of this world, great technical ability, who won the world cup a team containing some of the best technical players in the modern game, but how many technical english players do we see grace the pitches of england on a saturday afternoon in the premiership?? If we get rid of the competitive leagues upto about under 11’s or higher, the true coaches will be allowed to develop fantastic players with great ability, skill and a real love for the game. Take a look at the english academies, no competitive footall until under 16’s, do the boys complain, no, do the parents complain no so what’s the difference?

  47. leon on March 2, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    i have a son who was told that he was technically exellent at a c o e and should go join real madrid or barcalona lol.. Really!! They put a red mark on his name because he was born in august! And a little smaller !i think thats where alot of the kids are lost in this county! They just want big or fast players!and the gifted players that have to punch above there weight that are v skillfull are lost in the system or lose heart! Thankfully hes not lost heart but if england wants to have the messis ect they have to take more notice of the smaller gited players, not throw them to the side because of there age or size!! Look at barca!! Small players!

  48. Martin Wood on March 2, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    ‘Following repeated failures by the senior team at major championships and the inevitable calls for action that follow, the FA last month announced a Young Player Development Review’
    Why do the FA think changing things at grassroots level will change the way our national team performs? Any talented players sometimes as young as seven years old are whisked away by pro club accadamies and never see football at grassroots level. If there is a problem with football in this country it’s not at our level. Take at look at Englands U17’s and U16’s stats. U17’s last 18 games – won 13, drawn 4 and lost 1. U16’s last 14 games – won 9, drawn 3 and lost 2. Seems to me that Nick Levett should be looking at what happens after these age groups instead of messing about with things he knows nothing about. Since 1998 we have been playing mini-soccer at U10’s and below. The majority of these games are played on pitches used only by these age groups and therefore have a decent surface. Nick Levetts proposals to play across or down the centre of adult pitches used the previous day is a joke.
    5 v 5 on a 30 x 20 pitch may well create more touches of the ball but will certainly give less time with the ball. From my experience the transition from 7 v 7 to 11 v 11 is easily coped with by the players who are ready for proper football, its some coaches and managers who are scared of the transition as their inadequacies or lack of knowledge becomes more visable. The abolishment of league tables will do nothing other than confuse the game. A decent league structure gives football for all levels of ability as teams find their natural level and play against teams of a similar level. Back to the drawing board Nick!

  49. david beech on March 2, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    i think these are really overdue proposals to which should have been introduced at grass roots levels from the start there is no wonder we are so far behind europe i believe it is important to have grass roots football people making grass roots football decisions i for one welcome any proposal to play mini football formats

  50. Vincent Taylor on March 2, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    It was interesting to read about the development of youth football.
    I remember when I started playing football at Primary School it was a novelty to play on a pitch where the goals had nets.
    Home matches meant a traipse through Sevenoaks High Street. If I rightly remember we never won a game with the only success being a Nil-Nil draw with Dunton Green Primary. The 1960’s weren’t all nostalgic football wise!
    Lets hope the government doesn’t start selling off play areas.

    Vince Taylor

  51. Daz wilkie on March 3, 2011 at 12:22 am

    some fascinating comments some true dinosaurs but some people who are obviously open to change.
    being both a club secretary (16 teams)manager u17s and also serve on the committee of our local junior league there are several points that i think have not been addressed or just don’t make any sense to change. how many 5 a side teams will a club need to eventually end up with a big enough squad for 11v 11. where will we get the extra managers and volunteers required to run all these extra teams. these details do not seem to be included.
    another issue as regards dates of birth make no sense to me unless I’m missing the point, surely this will just move the problem from July/august births to november/december births. now i do understand that this is done on the continent(Germany for one) but what difference does that make. i personally think these changes could a positive affect on the quality of football played at grassroots level but weather it will have an end product through our academy’s is a total different story and argument (read where premier league wants to change the present system because that does stink).
    most of these proposals have been proven to work in other countries so why not here in England, the dinosaurs will shout and scream that we are making the kids game less competitive, have you ever been in a play ground and watched a non competitive game every goal is celebrated with pure joy. the parents wont like it, but we are not here to coach the parents we are here for the kids.
    there will be teething problems because people don’t like change,but if we don’t give it a go we will never know

  52. nikki on March 3, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    if you always do what youve always done! you will always get what you have always got.

    and smashing it up to the big centre forward does not work at the highest level.

    I welcome the new ideas – giving players more opportunities to pass, recieve, turn,run with the ball , combine, cross and shoot can only develop players.

    Taking the decision away from the parents and coach for me is the next step- unfortunately we have a Incurable disease in this country hense.
    I dont see our national team ever getting close in my lifetime- the players are not good enough and we have to ask the question Why?

  53. Mrs Donna Sunter on March 3, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    My son plays in the Altrincham & Timperley & they already use the system of 9×9 before moving up to 11 a side & it works really well. What I dont like , which really upsets players is when they are scouted by professional clubs at such very young ages…..then not long after they are dropped….. many of these players have come back to his club but they have lost a lot of confidence!! these clubs shouldn’t be allowed to scout them until they are at least at high school.

  54. Rodney Boguszynski on March 3, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    wonderfull idea but as usual it will only be an idea. governments and fa’s are all talk and full of false promises when it comes to grass roots football. playing fields in cumbria are being sold for development on a regular basis and not being replaced. so where is the money coming from for all these different sized pitches and goals.

  55. Carl Page on March 3, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    Having read the comments it appears that the 9v9 format has a lot of support. In theory I have no problem with it, but aside from the funding issue of additional goals and the logistics of fitting in the pitch is there not an issue concerning the number of players required?

    7 aside A and B requires a squad of say 18. If 9 aside is also A and B the squad size will need to be increased to say 22. If 9 aside is just one game then the squad size will need to be trimmed to say 14. Either way when going to 11 aside the squad size will again need to be changed to say 16 to 18.

    The current format of 7 aside to 11 aside means that a squad can play together all the way through their youth football. Installing 9 aside in between will result in either needing to add players and then releasing them later on, or more players spending less time on the pitch.

    If 9 aside is to be introduced I feel this issue needs careful consideration.

  56. Stuart Davidson on March 4, 2011 at 1:28 am

    The new structures are excellent it will transform the game for the better. I particularly like the idea of rival clubs sharing coaching sessions then having a match afterwards – this will mean more players at training! Sharing ideas and venues genius!

  57. adam on March 4, 2011 at 8:57 am

    it might look very nice but one problem i see is when the changes have to be done by 2013/2014 we are asking teams and players that have been using the league system to show off their achievements that the league system has gone which they have been using for the past few season. It needs to come in over time.

    Kids do want to win and they do want to show off what they won as its an achievement. If this is the case then why do schools have stats imposed by the government should that go as well.

    I think too many changes and things needed to be tested and move over the age groups rather a big hit at ones which will hit the kids and send a wrong message

  58. Pete Elliott on March 4, 2011 at 9:38 am

    I quite like the idea, but one question? Will the FA release some of the millions they have in the bank to fund this idea or are we, at grass roots level expected to fund the changes which look like being forced upon us?

  59. Greg Walters on March 4, 2011 at 10:57 am

    The number of able young boys lost to the system because they are born after December in the academic year is frightening. Of the 6 boys in our schools district signed to our two local professional academies every single one was born in September!! Yet I see many ‘younger’ boys with more natural talent lost to the system because that few months at 7,8, 9 years of age is huge in terms of mental and physical development.

  60. Rod Cornelius on March 4, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    As a manager of a youth team I had to bow to parent pressure and go 11aside at U11 or I would have lost players. Their argument was “as schools and other clubs are going 11aside and my son would be left behind”!. I believe 9v9 is far better for their development. Likewise I am a great supporter of making youth soccer upto at least U16s a Summer sport. SO much time is lost through bad weather and muddy pitches do not aid development.

  61. Greg Walters on March 4, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    Mixing the calendar and academic years doesnt make much sense. School teams play no more than a handful of games. All you would do is disadvantage the autumn kids in the same way that summer kids are disadvantaged now. A cut-off is inevitable, changing it is more hassle than its worth. Scouts and coaches should be able to see beyond ‘September syndrome’ anyway.

  62. missF on March 4, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    brilliant – but lets see some mone coming from the premier leagues to fund football in the communities!

  63. Jason on March 4, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    We have this system in place here in Australia. our system is for the 4,5,6,7,8 years age groups play 7 v 7 game with no goalies and small half moon goals on quarter of a park. Ages 9, 10, and this year 11’s will play a 9v9 with the introduction of goalies in the 9 year age group and they play on roughly half a park with half size goals roughly. then 12 and up go into 11v11 full field. This system has been implemented slowly over the years with first the 6,7,8,9 in the first year then moved the 10 to half field in the second year and now the third year they have brought the 11 to half a park with possibly the 12 also moving to half field next year. but with in that they have made 3 categories for these kids so as the more talented kids are in one category/group so as they play against other kids with a similar standard then average ability kids together and then the slower/late starter learning players are all together.

  64. leon on March 4, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    With the age affect, why not stick with the same system but give the summer born children the choice to play down a year , that way if thay are disadvantaged with size ect they can play down a level in age. Solves alot of problems !

  65. P G Bilsdon on March 4, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    A new direction for youth football in England

    So grassroots football is to blame for England’s International failures. There has been some total rubbish put forward but this must be the “Ultimate”.

    It couldn’t possibly be that:-
    1. To be successful at anything you must have pride & passion at this level especially in your Nationality. Foreign managers can never have this.
    2. There are not enough English players playing at the “Top Level” they are being kept out by mediocre overpaid foreign “internationals”.
    3. The ones that are in the premiership do not have the incentive and are under pressure from non English managers to have a “low priority” approach when selected for the England Squad.
    4. Too many selected players are played “out of position” i.e. asked to play differently to their normal club positions.
    5. Many selected players are no more than squad members/substitutes at their clubs.

    Mini soccer at U10 and below has been played now for more than 10 to 12 years if it hasn’t worked yet – perhaps it isn’t going to.

    Professional Club Academies/Schools of Excellence have been in existence for over 15 years have we got any facts to support their value to the England/Premier League set ups i.e. How many English Academy players have progressed to the England Squad or for that matter to Premier League Squads and what percentage is that of the total number that have been through the system.

    Has Nick Levett:-
    Played mini soccer at a young age
    Been to an Academy as a young player
    Played professional football
    Coached at an Academy at 13-16 age groups.
    Managed/coached at any level in the Football League Pyramid System.
    Managed/coached a team in a Junior League U9 to U18

    Many facts, figures and statistics are quoted throughout this editorial as we all know these details can be made to mean what we want them to. Coaches can also influence the responses of young players as to how they want them to answer.

    Sir Trevor Brooking is quoted as saying “any skill he had was almost there when he was 11”. I don’t believe Mini Soccer was played at that time. So what can we make of that statistic.

    It is quoted that U11 suffers from one of the biggest drop out rates – not in our area.
    In my experience “drop out” from football is largely due to “other interests” – the onset of puberty for one, the playing of other sports and the popularity of “Playstation” “X Box” Facebook etc, which can all be done inside centrally heated house.

    The suggestions for changing playing formats is not a bad thing however it has a number of drawbacks not least the costs involved. Funding streams are suggested for goalposts but in today’s economic climate of reduced funding it means that other areas of club funding will be curtailed. There is also the fact that there is already a shortage of available pitches, existing ones in many cases overplayed so “doubling up” for 9v9 will increase this plus the cost of marking out and other maintenance.
    The cost of entering a team into a league will not change if it is competitive or not currently I estimate for our Junior teams, without the purchase of a kit and allowing that some equipment lasts for more than one season, is in the region of £900 per season. In today’s economic climate any increases will lead to “dropouts”.

    Perhaps the winning of leagues & trophies does not register as a reason for playing for a selected 42 groups of 8-12 yr olds. If asked the question in a reverse context could it be a reason for not playing i.e. if we were to stop having leagues and trophies?

    “In the professional game there are no leagues at all (for U16). If it was good for development they’d put it in.”
    How do we know it is not good for development it’s never been tried.

    Regarding competitive leagues “increasing pressure which increases dropout”.
    I have never heard any young player say they have “dropped out of football” because being in a competitive league increased pressure on them. Unfortunately all players do not have the same skills and abilities which leads them to drop to lower leagues or totally “drop out”. Taking away the competition will not change this at any level.
    Try going to the homes of the children who have said they dropped out because of “competition leading to pressure”. Stand outside the bedroom door while they are on their “X Box” playing against one of their friends. Listen to them shouting, cheering and – yes- swearing when they get beaten. Then ask them if they are going to “drop out” of playing X Box because of the pressure.
    Life is a competition from the minute you are born we compete for relationships, we compete for affections, we compete for places at education establishments, we compete for employment etc, etc, etc, sometimes we are disappointed that’s part of growing up and learning about life, football is no different. Schools have tried the “non competitive” tack in sports activities they have now found that attitudes towards learning have been affected by this approach i.e. if you don’t have to try your hardest to win – you don’t need to try your hardest to learn.
    I am not against change, for the better, small sided football is not a bad thing but don’t go to far.

    As regards the “ The Future Game Grassroots” Book if this is to be the “Holy Grail” of grassroots football coaching then the FA should be distributing it free of charge to all coaches of grassroots football in England they permit enough money to be spent on players transfers fees and agents fees – ask for a small percentage to be donated to this distribution.

    Lastly of the 25 recommendations 11 have no relevance to grassroots football.
    No 8 should be the other way round “professional clubs providing support to grassroots clubs”.
    No’s 10, 11 & 12 will add more expense to the already high cost of achieving current qualification requirements.

    Why are England failing – I wonder- I certainly don’t think its anything to do with what happens at “grassroots” lets start at the top with reforms.

  66. Mark on March 4, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    Great step forward but who is going to fund all the new pitch marking, goals and administration. A lot of our games are played on council pitches and with cut backs in the public sector spending this just wont happen.

  67. Steve Skivington on March 4, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    While there are some valid suggestions in these proposals, sadly it is completely without regard as to who will fund it. I am the secretary of a small village club with junior teams that would be affected by this. As far as 9v9 is concerned we neither have the ground nor the funds to accommodate this. Ultimately it is likely we would have to stop providing junior football for the youngest children which would be completely counter-productive. If the FA wants to make this a reality it has to tckle this in stages which will take several years not 2 seasons! The first priority is to ensure there are enough playing facilities. The idea of marking up mini-soccer pitches in blue across existing full size pitches won’t work. The full size pitches we use already take a hammering throughout the season. Putting mini-soccer pitches on them will only have detremental effects. first they will be played on more deteriorating them even quicker so potentially stopping games on the full size pitch. Secondly, playing a mini-soccer game on a Sunday morning after an 11 v 11 on Saturday will potnetially make it unplayable for the children! At present our teams at U11, U12 and U13 play 11 v 11 on a smaller pitch with 21′ x 7′ goals before stepping up to playing on a full size pitch. I think this works well. not to mention we’ve just had to replace the goalposts at a cost to us of around £450 (with funding!) if this goes through they will be redundant in two years.

    In a nutshell the proposals are too much too soon. There needs to be facilities in place, funding avilable, and a longer timetable if this is to be successful.

  68. jason on March 4, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    I dont know how things are run over there but here the admin side of things doesnt change it is only the format they play that has changed. As for the marking of pitches we here in australia use cones to mark out the 7v7 games. As for the 9v9 pitches we use an alternative colour that stands out for our line markings on our second pitches as they are usually our training pithes.

    We were told the reason for bringing in this system was to keep kids in the game because they enjoyed it. Which is why the 4,5,6,7,8 year age groups have no goalies they say that the kids get more touches of the ball therefore they will again enjoy it more and keep them interested in playing. I dont think its the littlies we need to be worrying about it the teenage kids who have a huge fall out rate due to socialising more, more interested in the opposite sex etc etc that is where it needs to be fixed.

  69. John Leonard on March 4, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    I broadly support the proposed changes but I think the quality of the surface they play on is the most important factor in developing skills. On heavy water-logged pitches in mid winter it is the strong kid that succeeds and the skilful one that get frustrated and probably quits. Summer football is a good idea and there should also be a winter break – probably Dec-end Feb. Ideally all under 16 football should be played on astroturf or all-weather surfaced where kids use much better skills. Premier league surfaces are flat and hard and kids play on hard surfaces in the countries that produce the most skilful players.

  70. Mark Cox on March 4, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    I currently manage an under 10’s team which play in the Eastleigh & Mini District League. The proposal to go to 9v9 at under 11’s is a great idea. It’s such a big step up to go to 11v11, the poor goal keepers are swamped by the size of the goals, the pitch size is just too big.
    I don’t agree with making it non competitive. If you were to ask all our players if they would like to play in a league or just go out and play to improve their skills , I know what they would say.
    Yes it’s about the kids having fun but it’s also about being able to deal with the winning and losing – isn’t that what life’s all about.
    It starts from the top down – the kids get inspiration from the top players and they should be setting the examples for our stars of the future. How many times do you see and hear players abusing the referees, what message does this send? I can’t understand why refs except this. When I used to play we were told by the ref before we went out onto the pitch any swearing and you will be sent off, no questions. You never see this conduct in a rugby match so why in football.
    Keep the Club Scouts away from the kids until they are 13 years of age. They pick the kids up then drop them just as quick. What does this do to their confidence. We are consistantly being watched by these scouts and keep on telling them we are not interested but we are lucky because our parents are happy with the coaching the team gets from Eastleigh Football Club . They are too young, let them enjoy playing for their local clubs and inprove them there where they are happy.

  71. Peter on March 4, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    In my40 years experience of local football, The F A instigate many projects with a mission statement of improving the state, standards, behaviour etc of the game.
    Unfortunately in a game as big as football these projects always seem (and inevitably never reach a successful conclusion) to be replaced by something else part way through it’s “implementation!
    This seems to indicate that any plan takes too long and that there is never enough money to complete anything.
    Whilst I am all for improving the standards of our game, I believe that Adult football at lower levels is being eroded in the saturation of developing the kids and women’s game.

    As for Jose Mourinio’s comment that Portugal & Spain teach kids to play and not win, maybe he should explain at what age they teach their footballers to fall over with ease?

  72. m. mccarty on March 5, 2011 at 10:32 am

    strongly disagree with the statement that children born may-aug are being left behind!! my son born july can out play most players in his age group, and has been able to since he started playing at u7`s.

  73. Heather williams on March 5, 2011 at 10:35 am

    Wonderful, child centred football…at long last. Small teams, small goals and huge enjoyment. And no league tables for primary age…how will the parents cope. Thanks to all involved for their pioneering vision.

  74. Lee Brough on March 5, 2011 at 10:57 am

    League and top non-league clubs work with the best young players from 9yrs of age. Less able kids are left to play for their local clubs…why stop competitive football for this group? Why does everything have to be about ‘development’? If the league structure goes for the youngest kids then I really dont see the point in playing. You might as well play slam against the garage wall.

  75. Rob on March 5, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    I broadly agree with the proposals. I help run an under 8’s team that at the moment our main aim is to keep the game fun and competitive and to get as many children involved as possible and develop their skills so I don’t actually feel that too much needs changing.
    Personally I believe that publishing results under 11’s is counter productive.
    We are in a local under 8’s mini league which has been a fantastic learning experience for the children involved and helped the coaches to organise matches without dedicating too much personal / family time to football. I think the 7vs7 format has been better for us rather than 5vs5. More children get to play whilst still being involved fully in the game. I think these leagues should remain with results sent in but not published. Then league administrators can then attempt to balance the leagues by relative ability (and geography).
    I am concerned about the idea of teams being organised around the calendar year purely for the reason that friendships will be broken up of people in the same class at school, some of whom come to our sessions to play with their friends as well as learn football. My son agreed strongly with me on this.
    I think the idea of shared training before a match is very good.
    Not many teams in our league have the space and / or facilities (toilets food etc) to run a match day for all the teams in their league. Especially if they have a full remit of teams of all age groups.
    I am very much in favour of 9v9 for 11 year olds with the goals being smaller, however the funds to buy the nets will be very hard to come by and allocating the space for another dimension of pitch will be incredibly difficult to organise (if not impossible). Could there be a protocol for marking out pitches in the same location with different coloured line markings for different pitches?
    Indoor football is preferable in winter I agree but finding halls is very difficult and expensive. We have been fortunate for now and are training and playing Futsal indoors but other ages in our club have not found anywhere?
    In an ideal world this would be great but there just are not enough indoor pitches whilst providing access to a team in most region / villages. It may result in the “bigger” clubs being the only places capable of playing in leagues and children from outlying areas being excluded from this.

  76. michael montague on March 5, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    my son liam has been signed by aldershot town fc U9’s COE.. the coaching and facilities are superb, the way the boys are looked after is second to none.. the non competitive approach ,and ethos on playing the game the right way cannot be faulted.. my son is learning the right way already, and his improvement enjoyment and development is already happening.. Do not change anything that will jeopardise this excellent structure..make sure that smaller pro clubs like aldershot can embrace the changes that are being proposed without crippling them financially in the process..

  77. Phil Studdden on March 5, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    I think the introduction of a 9v9 league at the age U10’s would assist in the transition to 11v11. However i would have to disagree in the raising of the age for “competitive football” to u12 level. The league table scenario could be used to the FA’s advantage, as i believe it is not the pressure from parents or coaches that increase the drop out rate. I feel that if new starters are pitched at the same level as an experienced team, it is the getting beaten every game whilst trying to learn and love the game that demoralises the youngsters as they would quickly start thinking why bother we are only going to get beaten again.

    Therefore the league system could be used to sort out teams based on ability, to create a fair set of leagues where the abilities are similar and the kids are able to enjoy and appreciate competitive football from an early age.

  78. Mike on March 5, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    All well and good…but where are all these new pitches coming from? My club isn’t lucky enough to have their own ground so we depend upon Council pitches and there are few enough of those right now. With the current wide-spread cost cutting in these challenging financial times, where is all the extra money going to come from for new land and new goal posts? Yes, it is, theoretically, a great idea – so is the one where everyone earns £50k a year, just not practical and not thought through.

  79. Paul on March 5, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    The failure comes not from grassroots football , but from pro club academies ! If they were a school or business they would be forced to close .The failure rate is unexceptable ! They fail in such a big way , taking players from 5/6 years old and forcing pressure on them to play and train at 100% all the time . How does this help development ? 9v9 , 11v11 the Sky sports report proved you had more touches at 11 aside !

  80. Chris Davis on March 5, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    If you look at clubs like Real Madrid they use smaller pitches that grow with the kids. Mind you they still import some of there best players. I do feel that the feeling of self achievement is so important to the young as they develop. It is a world that demands instant results and this can easily affect our kids, with the result that if they feelthat they are not getting results, then they back off and go back to their computers etc. There is no doubt that the facts prove that the younger ones in their year groups find it harder to keep up. No one seems to take account of the fact that kids sprout up at different ages, as any parent can vouch for, when buying their clothes. Some of us stop growing at fourteen, some at twenty one, and this must be taken account of as we might be loseing kids that never come back. We should be looking at football as a sport to be enjoyed for its own sake and not as a channel to being a money laden Premiership player, because the truth is that 99.99 % of us never make it.

  81. Matt Manning on March 5, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    Could you ask Nick to publish his and his teams research and the research that they have studied which lead to these proposals, as there are no referencies in your article, “A new directon for youth football in England”.

  82. simon nunn on March 5, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    Hello sound good however the cost to take a coaching course is not cheap.
    I have cannot even get a place on one and if I could it cost a lot of money. Why not ask the league clubs in the top divisons to help with funding the players are on so much money and there wages its a joke.

    It OTT some of the stuff that comes down from the FA repect .

  83. Mick Green on March 5, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    What grassroots football needs is simple, get away from the “The Bigger A Child Is The Better He Is” rubbish, lose the blatant nepotism that happens at almost every junior football club and start developing the lost skill of ball control.
    Too much emphasise is placed on size and bigger kids get all the attention and opportunities in this country, this results in the smaller ones becoming disillusioned with the sport and leaving. Of course when the big kids stop growing and are caught up in size strength and speed they don’t like not being the centre of attention and also leave the sport.
    To make my point I’ll make a bold statement, “if Emile Heskey had been born in South America, Spain etc then he’d be mopping the floors in the changing rooms, if Lionel Messi had been born in this country then he’d be mopping the floor in the changing rooms”. A bit unfair on Heskey true, but you get my point.
    As for every team captain being the coaches son and never missing a match that’s simple, no one is allowed to coach there own kids, harsh but fair and in reality there is no other solution.
    Finally we need to educate coaches to encourage a bit of individuality in players and not just rely on rout one and “get it to the big lad/lass” we presently drum into the future players.

  84. simon nunn on March 5, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    Hello, sound good however example my son plays league football under 9’s this season .
    Just won the league , however how can the better players get better , when everybody has to play even if they are not good enough .
    I know everybody will not like what I say here but it is true. ENGLAND WANT GOOD PLAYERS . But they are getting pushed away because they are good for players that are not .
    My son and others get taken off in the game every week and replaced not by a better players even.
    I could understand if they were better but they are not.
    They have still won games but they have not played as well and let in goals and the shape of the team went as well. It affected the whole team and how they played. It affects my sons game, ask me what has he done wrong each week.
    The better players are being held back by players that are not good enough. The standard level of the kids are held back by players that are not league standard. Some kids are good enough to play league football others are not.
    As in life there will always be winners and losers it will never change.
    I know everybody states all the kids must play
    So how can they improve, there standard get pulled down , the better players drop out of the game. I have found it impossible to get place to take my FA coaches badge. Then there is the cost no funding or help. The league clubs and players with all that money should help more.

    Coaches should be honest with the parents and kids and tell them if they are good enough to play to a certain standard or not.
    Maybe have more rising stars teams e.g B teams in a league until the player reach a certain standard maybe. Rather than go in the league system and find it hard every week.
    Better players play better with better players?.

  85. Aidy on March 6, 2011 at 8:59 am

    Its about time football was taken by the scruff of the neck and shaken up in this country.

    1. 9v9. Yes – it has to be better for players to go gradually from 7 to 11 a side on appropriately sized pitches.
    We already mark a 7 a side pitch inside our 11 a side due to lack of space so the 9v9 pitch shouldn’t be a problem.
    The only stumbling block I see is the provision of posts. The FA has to understand the limited funds that clubs have and should even go as far as donating the posts to each club. They can afford it.

    2. Competitive Football – At the moment at u9 level we play a competitve match & a friendly.
    Becasuse we are playing for points the strongest side is always fielded in the first game and the weaker players simply do not get chance to play in that game, and know they are not as good as the ‘first team’.
    Personally I would advocate not playing for points at all and have leagues with a mix of teams of varying ability where in some games you can field your strongest side, and in others you can include some weaker players in the first game and give them a boost in confidence.
    Who are the leagues for? What do they prove? The kids will always want to win whether there is a league table or not.

    3. Summer leagues or Indoor Football. These have to be looked at seriously. We have lost so many games with the weather this winter that there has to be consideration given to changing the way things are structured.
    Maybe a late summer/autumn fixtures followed by an indoor league followed by spring/early summer fixtures?
    The drawback for me is the availability of indoor pitches, or being able to use playing fields in summer if teams share facilities with cricket teams.

    4. Age groups. Personally I would have rolling age groups so players signed for a club could play for the year above or the year below. This means better players can be challenged and the less strong have more chance to shine.

  86. Gary Hoare on March 6, 2011 at 11:17 am

    As a coach of an under 9’s team, my only concern is that if you change the age ranges from school years to calander years.
    We would have boys in the same team from under 7’s to under v 11’s , then we would have any boys born August to January having to change age groups.
    Changing the age structure only changes the the dates of birth of the children who attend an academy. The statistics show that the older children progress better. so the 57% born from September – December, will only move this percentage to January – April and cause major disruption to the kids (which is our main focus)

  87. Peter Tomkins on March 6, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    The 2nd photo in the guide shows a lad sliding in, studs up, out of control the other lad has had to jump in the air to avoid being injured. This just about sums up the way in which young players are encouraged to play – skill and passing are given little merit. As the lads get older then, unfortunately, Refereeing standards become poorer with little protection offered for skilful players who receive over physical challenges.

  88. Paul Atherton on March 6, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    I’ve been saying now for a couple of years that they should go from 7 a-side to 9 a-side. My son plays in goal and to go to a goal that is 7x21ft is so silly. I know that all keepers are in the same boat, but they all look lost in the goals. The only thing that i disagree with is to stop the leagues up to u11s. When they did this for u8s 3 years ago it did not stop the competitive between the teams they both wanted to win and they ask where it would put them in the league. The trouble is they see leagues on the tv every week on the tv with there favorite team.

  89. enrico tiritera on March 6, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    Allelujah!!It was about time.I have been waiting 18 years for this to happen.Make it mandatory now and don’t wait another season!

  90. David Murtagh on March 6, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    Fantastic news, about time some common sense was applied to junior football, with some really great comments from the kids themselves. I just wish the changes were coming in for next season, as my team moves from u10 to u11. Playing 11 a side with off-sides on big and heavy pitches in the winter will reduce skill and technique and encourage bigger kids who can whack the ball harder – madness!

  91. Mark on March 6, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    What about squad size?
    Currently we have a ridiculous situation with squad sizes of up to 14 for 7-aside. This means half the children don’t play. There needs to be a rule: Every player is guaranteed at least half a match, unless injured. Even if the team is losing, then the weaker players must get a game. The parents will ensure this occurs and it will stop large squads.

    Some managers and parents believe it is acceptable for a child to turn up on a Sunday to play 5 minutes football. I am sorry, but it is not acceptable.

  92. ian coates on March 7, 2011 at 10:22 am

    Having heard the information first hand from Mr levett could I point out the following:

    I.We who run a mini league support most of the changes except
    Who is going to run the extra teams clubs struggle to find volunteers now next mind at 5 -v -5 will mean the amount of teams doubling?
    9 v 9 great BUT the Fa MUST WORK WITH STAKEHOLDERS to proive the correct sizes pitchs not mark over senior pitches at the 9 v 9 goal mounth will become worn and make it dangerous for the senior players as the 18yard box with have a dip in it?
    SUMMER Football great idea BUT no a chance, the cricket clubs, athletes and other summer sports will fight the fa on this also how the devil will you expect a team to compleat with the amount of players who will be on holiday, hard to get a ref in the winter never mind the summer due to hols, What this country NEEDS is a massive investment from the FA and SPORT England to provide more 3 g centres so kids can play in the winter on a quality surface.

    MOST OF ALL CUT THE ‘BULL’ this is been done to provide players of the future for pro clubs and England this has nothing to do with the kids having fun!!! its an FA reaction to a very poor performance in the world cup and a failed hosting bid.

    Lets get real life is a competition and success SHOULD be rewarded why keep kiding yourself kids want to win and so do most normal people!!

    OH and last point ‘the wonderful research the FA are ramming out is COMPLETLY OUT OF DATE AND WAS DONE IN 2003 so is 8 YEARS OUT OF DATE!!!

  93. Paul Cousins on March 7, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    Having watched my son play on a league basis from U7 to current U14, most of the time he is told to either clear it or lump it up to the strikers. The pressure on these boys/girls to win is more important to the so called adults, when the kids want to learn better ball skills and grow in confidence on the ball.
    The shouts of , “well in” for a heavy tackle, “clear it” for lumping up the field are heard every game. Most players are scared to take a touch, try a bit of skill, because they will be chastised if they make a mistake.
    We need to get people running youth football for the kids, not the trophies that the adults can boast about down the pub. Lets listen to the kids point of views, because at the end of the day, THEY are the ones playing the game, THEY are our future.
    Common sense at last!

  94. A Davies on March 7, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    I whole heartedly agree with the changes. However, lets implement them now for next season. It’s not a big upheaval, and with a little bit of willing, totally achievable.

  95. Chris Ruff on March 7, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    Whilst I can see the benefits of the changes there is currently a shortage of small sized pitches in our area which can only get worse with another size added. Presently even the under 11’s are playing on full sized pitches !

  96. J.Sheard on March 7, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    Excellent ideas and I fully support all of them.

    I would make them optional from 2011/12 or even mandatory from that year.

    I can see all kinds of ‘competiveness’ problems removed by introducing these proposals……especially for the younger age groups.

  97. David Martin on March 7, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    Having been around football at all levels for a number of years I do welcome change.

    I have long thought that the step up from small sided to the large pitch to be to big for some, and welcome the principal of 9×9. However I believe that it is going to be financially difficult for many having to make arrangements for pitches and goals, I understand about funding being availiable but the allocation of respect barriers that had to be used was nothing short of a farce and does not bode well if such big changes are planned.

    That is what concerns me, given such change over a short period of time, that it is going to hamper as many kids as it helps.

    As for taking away competitive leagues, there are players I know whose parents will not let them play for a “B” or “C” team or a club below say division 1 because they wont be scouted by pro clubs. This is an area that needs looking at, how many coaches and parents are driving the win at all costs mentality. I have seen first hand ex-pros coaching youth teams and show complete disregard for referees and groundstaff and anyone who questioned them.
    Parents with no coaching qualification or experience taking control of teams regardless to how their behaviour affects the kids.
    None of this will be changed by the new proposals, and if anything more parents will be getting involved increasing the chance of poor coaching.

    COE’s are onlygood for the few, and take out a lot of players from clubs disrupting the enjoyment for the rest and giving decent coaches no chance to carry on the work they have started, only to drop players afterwards who then fall out of the game altogether.

    If the FA want to kick start youth football through the summer, get these COE’s to stage tournaments and training sessions for all clubs and provide all the equipment and coaching, get them to work with the clubs coaches and pass on the tips and advice so they can take it away and continue the work.

    As has been highlighted with the Ray Winstone advert and the Respect campaign the need to create a better playing environment for the kids needs to be developed, and as welcome as some of these proposals are, none help with this problem, which I do not believe has changed at all at grassroots, if anything the influence of abuse towards officials seen on the tv week in week out is reflected more and more on a Sunday, and it is seen as the norm.

    Change is good but cannot be seen as the answer to all the problems it is trying to solve in one go. The money in football is not distributed fairly to implement the changes that will bring about the succesful national team we would all like.

  98. Martin Wood on March 7, 2011 at 11:45 pm

    The main concerns that are repeated over and over in the comments posted here are the transition from U10’s to U11’s and the increase in pitch size. Nobody wants to see U11’s playing on a full size pitch in 24′ x 8′ goals, we all know that its wrong but in most cases that is all that is available. The FA should be dealing with the lack of facilities problem before they interfere with playing formats and league tables. Make ‘age appropriate’ pitch sizes Mandatory, force local authorities to provide them along with ‘youth size’ goals. How many 3G pitches could have been built with the money wasted on Wembley. The biggest problem with grassroots football in this country is the lack of decent surfaces to play and train on. Playing 9 v 9 and 5 v 5 on existing 11 a side pitches will only make thing worse. Wake up, if we can see the problems why can’t the FA?

  99. Paul McDermott on March 8, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    being a father of a 14 yr old 2 twelve yr olds and a 6 yr old all wanting to play football for teams which at present is just the 12 yrs olds and the 6 yrs old some of the proposels are bang on the mark the jump from junior to full size pitches and goals was hard for my 12 yr olds. what i think a point you are missing is the cost side of all this why does a child interested in football need to fork out over £100 to play in a team thankfully the team my lads pay for have a rule if you have other siblings the extra siblings are only 50% of the full cost saying that it still cost £220 for my 3 to play which in these hard time is bvary difficult and i know of some children who dont let their children play because they cannot afford which i think is criminal with all the money that is being wasted higher up. i also dont agree with not having leagues for the mini football it is hard to compare your progress when you dont have something to gauge it against.

  100. Jeremy Pinner on March 8, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    I agree with many of the posts here: 9 v 9 would be so much better than the leap we currently expect children to make to 11 a side. I also agree with the concerns raised about the number of pitches available but can’t see how the FA can help with what is a local club issue.

    Our pitches are cut-up around this time every year but there is little that can be done. However since the idea is to play 9 v 9 rather than 11 v 11 the amount of games will only increase if a club chooses to enter an additional team in their league.

  101. John Edgar, on March 9, 2011 at 10:17 am

    The proposals are very sensible. I’ve been involved with junior footballfor several years and have always felt it was too results driven and competitive for the majority of players. Now involved with a new U8 team and already finding teams with one or two big lads at the back to stop everything and hoof the ball forward to speedier players who can snap up chances. On the other hand most teams are coached by people trying to teach a passing game in a fun way.
    One problem with the change in year groups is that too many schools are not very involved in sport and govt doesn’t seem very keen to change this
    Main problem is with indoor facilities in the winter as there are just too few. Most clubs are struggling to find enough outdoor pitches as it is.
    The only criticism I have is that I wouldn’t like to see club football in summer. let the kids have a break from structured football to play other games such as cricket or tennis or just kick a ball about for fun.
    On the whole Sunning Saints FC is very supportive of the proposals.

  102. Stuart Gard on March 9, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    Having developed girls football for many years I agree with the basic ideas of the proposal, i feel the goal size should be 21 X 7 and the pitch 80 x 50 as this already is available to lots of teams and would save expense. also the 9 x 9 format should last until U14 as some children take longer to grow and we need it to be fair to all . but at least these proposals are moving the right way this format has worked well for the New Forest Girls Football League which is flourishing. we do 7 x 7 60 x 40 U10, U11, U12. 9 x 9 80 x 50 U13 , U14. 11 x 11 adult pitch U15 +

  103. Roy Rogers on March 9, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    The F.A needs to get out and just look at the grass roots football insted of sitting around in the office trying to think they know what is going on on the pitch and off the pitch.
    Money who has it to try to sort this out because we dont, many times we have asked for help and not once got it.
    Have the F.A seen some of the of the pitches we have to play on because we cant afford to get good qulity pitches and have to put up with what we have got.
    Just have a look at mid lincs go look at what is been said on the side lines by Mum and Dads Managers supperters.
    Ive Been in the game for 8 long seasons and we are Not getting any better Wake up F.A grass roots football.

  104. Martin Wood on March 9, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    John Edgar wrote:
    ‘Now involved with a new U8 team and already finding teams with one or two big lads at the back to stop everything and hoof the ball forward to speedier players who can snap up chances.’
    So can you now explain to me how playing 5 v 5 on smaller pitches will not increase this happening?

  105. Stuart Howe on March 9, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    Agree in principle. BUT!!!!!! Getting any size of pitch is already difficult. Getting several different sizes is going to be downright impossible. Totally crazy marking out smaller pitches across larger pitches. Football pitches in the north east can only cope with 1 game a week and even then they’re like quagmires. Also, has the FA seen the price of goals and nets? There is currently an economic crisis in most of the country, albeit Soho Square seems to have bypassed this small factor. Why oh why oh why can’t junior / youth football be played throughout the school year, avoid the worst of the weather without having the pressure of 3, 4, or even 5 games per week in the run up to the FA cup final. Where’s the enjoyment and development in that?

  106. Mike Bassett on March 10, 2011 at 8:31 am

    The FA needs to train a team of people to police the game at grass roots level.
    The attitude of parents and most managers is still very much win at all costs.
    Referees still face horrific abuse and managers trying to referee games in their favour.
    Until this mentality is stamped out, all the pitch changes, age group changes, mini soccer big soccer stuff is a waste of time.
    I think an FA rep turning up unannounced at games to observe, then act on any misbehaviour by reporting the club to a committee is going to have long term benefits. The leagues dont police it at all, and there have been instances of 9 year old boys ending up in hospital because one team would use the managers son as a referree and he allowed some terrible tackling to happen. That team is still operating in the league.
    Clubs also have to start investing heavily in the grass roots level for the good of the game as a whole rather than just for their own benefit.

  107. Steve Mckiernan on March 10, 2011 at 11:14 am

    I have been involved with Junior football for the last 9 years and my son will play at u16 next season. I have been a coach, club secretary and a league secretary during this time and frankly will heave a huge sigh of relief when the final whistle is blown and my son moves on to adult football.
    The proposals are logical but completely impractical. There are not enough football
    ptiches to meet the requirements. There are not enough people willing to become coaches to accomodate the volume of children wanting to play now never mind diluting the number of teams by reducing the numbers still further.

    “non Competitive” has had little or no effect at u7 or u8. It may have removed the league tables and cup competitions(although Roger Levett says that it is Ok To play for a cup 3 times a sesaon. Not int the mini soccer rules ROGER my boy). However it does not remove the competitive nature of a group of kids who know that winning a game is achieved by scoring more goals on a crisp Saturday morning than the team in different coloured shirts.
    Local Junior football provides players for Local senior football as the league clubs pick off all the cream at u7 and u8. so 9v9 and more touches will not help England win a world cup.

    Junior Football is run by volunteers and more regulation, more control and more admin will lead to less of these. Make our roles easier rather than harder.

    Very Sad I know, but role on May2012 and I will not have to worry anymore.

  108. shane on March 10, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    I have been following my 10 year old son for 3 years with his team and have coached as well,some of the changes are great, alot of young kids do not want to playing in freezing conditions, my 8 year old for example, went training at 6 along with 30 other kids in winter the numbers then fell to about 10 due to the cold, summer football great idea.
    Smaller pitches and goals about time, are current goal keeper is really put off by the huge goals at under 11 (who can blame him) a smaller goal would see him develope better and not have nightmares about the goals.
    If you look at teams you can see the older kids are better players normally, more pace,strenght,understanding and wot i think helps is maturaty, the age group change is a great idea.
    On the down side 5v5 will only encourage a kick and run attitude to football, kids who can hit the ball the hardest will become the focall point of the team, stick to 7v7 which does encourage good football.
    Non compeitive football is working, the only people who dont think it is are those driven by trophies i.e bad managers/coaches along with pushey parents who want to show off to others.
    Parents should be there to support not to shout advice to players thats down to the coach/manager,more non compeitive football please,kids will always want to be competitive so trophies not needed.
    More pitches more money,its an expensive time.
    when you have more than one child involved its very expensive,investment by the fa and more from clubs,not just there coaching schools which are to expensive but real commitment into the community from clubs and there players.

  109. ryan harrison on March 10, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    i strongly agree with the changes as i have a brother born on the 1st of August
    and although i think he is big for his age
    coaches think he is small!
    so yes bring it in line with the rest of Europe

  110. leon on March 11, 2011 at 10:55 am

    yes,my son was born on the 16th of august and was 10 weeks premature,and hes is smaller than most in his year, he 10. I was just wondering how the changes to the rules would affect him, as it says that competition rules will be changed to benefit summer borns?would this start just for the younger age group from 2013 (u7s).i think it would benefit alot of summer borns if they could play down a year if the jan-dec chenges wont affect them.does anyone know the competition rule changes for his age group??

  111. mr leon thompson on March 11, 2011 at 11:48 am

    Ive started taking my son to a exellent football learning experience in leeds .www.tikitakasoccer school…its fantastic. the coach is class… hes trying to learn the boys the barcelona way of football … not about winning/scoring but about keeping the ball and enjoying the game… its just like watching barca at times.. think we should get more spanish coaches over here !!.. its a complete different way of thinking…

  112. Angela on March 11, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    Absolutley disgraceful that the season has been changed and the fact that the FA have turned round and said that they are not aware of children as young as 8/9 playing other sports such as football or cricket. Why should it be that kids now are unable to participate in these because the seasons have been changed so matches are not effected by the weather. Why doesn’t the FA put the money into building more all weather pitches to allow matches to take place in the winter period which is and always been the norm for football. Also this may help develope more home gtown players rather than clubs spending millions on foreign players that DONOT portray a good image or skill of the game,but they are teally good at diving and knowing when to pretend they have been caught by others. But what can you say Alex Ferguson wants these changes so of course they must be set in place.
    I am all for kids being involved in sport but football is not the only sport in the world, and maybe if these professional footballers realise they play for love and not money it may help develope the younger generation to to realise that hard work pays!!!!!

  113. Albert Fellowes on March 11, 2011 at 8:22 pm

    I cant understand why when a team is going from 9 aside at 12 to 11 aside at 13 why you propose to have 24 by 8 goals. At the moment the recommended size of goals is 21 by 7 for up to 14 year olds A.Fellowes

  114. michael gadd on March 13, 2011 at 8:37 am

    I am currently a manager under 11 s level and have had the same lads since the age of 8 . At last a bit of sense being put into grass roots football in england just like the continents being doin for years . It will take a good 5-6 years to see the changes in the kids but will make the future of english footballers change . My boys moved to 11 a side football this season and have enjoyed it also have myself . It is a big leap from seven a side but its how you approach it which helps . If your a good team in your leauge and you play the big lad at the back week in week out but hes not getting much action cause hes going to get bored wouldnt you ? Playing kids in ever postion on the field regardless of size speed ability keeps them interested . Most kids give up football because of pushy parents confusing there children saying do this do that . Totally different things to what the coach is telling them to do . 9 out of 10 times the child will lisstern to there parent its natural . On that point rules need putting in place to stop that happening on the touch line week in week out which would help children develop and help coaches /managers to inprove the childs ability and perform to there best on the field . I personal dont think children leave the game of football because they have to play 11 a side . Another reason for children leaving football or going to another team is the manager him self . There is so many managers and coaches out there including myself came into having a team with no coaching badges or experiance other than playing the game myself and watching it live . Every body as there own idea but the basis is in the badges which learn you some golden rules which does help massively along with some other very important rules on how to develop childrens football . 5 v 5 games should always be played weather in training or separate from sat/ sun leauges . It is the basics of the game weather there is 5 playing a game or 11 playing the game. As a team we have been playing futsal every week and the children love the game . Fact, the rules which its played improves children ability , control , awareness , movement and creates more touches . Where does everyone honestly think barcelona get it from ? i could go on for ever but the changes will be good ,more teams need to train small sided games and remember from my point the longer the boys have a football at there feet the better they get !

  115. terry p on March 13, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    at last , common sense , scrap league tables which encourages too many parents /coaches screaming kids to a win at any cost , time to encourage enjoyment , skills and fairplay .
    also scrap the man of the match award for youngsters , too many coaches pick their favourites , its a team game .
    halelujah , a new pitch/ goal size more in proportion to the kids age groups.
    yes move to summer but also invest in more warehouse style sheltered pitches to use throughout winter and during the week after school and during holidays( let them play 52 weeks a year) , perhaps fund this with the tax paid by overpaid professional footballers who too often encourage diving and cheating (something else long overdue for the fa to act on!) .
    come on fa get those new pitch sizes pushed through asap.

  116. Come on England on March 13, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    Love the Game!!!
    Play the Game!!!
    Understand the Game!!!
    Win the Game

    If they Lose the Game they must Understand Why they Lost The Game!!

    The Problem is Our Children are not Taught to be Winners

    It’s Just A Game” Is Just Not Good Enough!!

    British Children Are Never Going to Win Anything with this mentality

    Changes Need to be Made!!

    But you have to teach the kids to be winners!!!

    How else are they going to Learn!!!
    They have to learn that the feeling that they get when they lose, is not something they want to feel again!!

    From Hard work and dedication you can win!!

    Football is a Competitive Game if you take that away you will end up with Losers not Winners!!

    I say from U6 – U8 Non-Competitive
    U9 – Upwards Competitive

    Parents should shout from the sideline – Encouraging Both Teams!!!

  117. stu east on March 13, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    All well and good ,encouraging kids to have more touches of the ball ,surely thats why we do training and FA coaching courses. we keep getting told practice makes perfect ,well whats wrong with playing 11 aside ? Move the players positions around let them all have ago in a different positions.I agree with I Coates ,the Fa need to take more money away from the so called big clubs and invest in 3G centres for playing all year . Small clubs doing well should be rewarded with investments because they are the ones doing well without money . We all know Chelsea and Man City are doing well because of big investors . Scunthorpe on a shoestring get nothing . Why dont the Fa reward small clubs like them with large 3G centres that they can’t afford.
    We as amateur clubs dont have the land and space to have all these different size pitches. nevermind buying different size goals etc.
    The FA should just invest in land for kids to play on thats all they want. As for just winning ,thats normal and thats the reward for effort and determination as much as skill ,or we might aswell just take all the goals down and play keep ball.

  118. Brian on March 13, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    Not before time. These proposals are long overdue and can only help our game. I am a qualified coach and have been appalled, over the years, at what I have seen and experienced in the mini soccer environment. Many coaches and parents need to step back and ask themselves if they are there for the kids or themselves. I regularly see kids of 7 being shouted at and put under unnecessary pressure in the all-important search for finishing top of the league. A goal the kids care little about.
    I have witnessed kids being “pigeon holed” into positions due to size or strength or forced to play in goal week after week because at 6 they can catch a ball. No regard is given to development of the child’s all round skills. I have seen children of 7 made to play at centre half and screamed at from the touchline if they attempt to dribble the ball past an opponent or dare to venture over the halfway line. Most children of mini soccer age just want to be left alone to play and to score goals and dribble past the opposition with no pressure from adults. That’s what makes it fun. Children playing in the playground, without adult interference, have a great time and often develop more skills there than they do at their respective clubs because they are not stifled by restrictions imposed upon them by well meaning but misguided adults.
    The proposals to address the relative age effect will greatly address the disadvantage experienced by those children unlucky enough to be born in the summer months, who (under the current rules) consistently find themselves playing against children often almost a year further along in both physical and mental terms.
    If we aspire to produce players (at every position) with the technical abilities and confidence on the ball of countries like Spain and Brazil these proposals are vital and not optional and I wish the FA every success in their speedy introduction.

  119. Dougie Leask on March 14, 2011 at 11:55 am

    One key area that has not been looked into is the amount of football young children are playing.

    So many children play for one team on a Saturday and another on a Sunday and then their School team during the week. With training for both of the club teams during the week, many children are being put through organised football sessions, including matches, up to 5 times a week.

    This gives the young players no free time to have a kick-around with their mates where they can relax, enjoy their football and express their football skills freely.

    The end result is that we lose so many young talented players who by the time they get to Under 18’s and Adult football, have had enough of kicking a ball around for organised clubs and leave the game altogether, or just play socially with their mates.

    All of the hard work and efforts of coaches who work with these kids is lost because they have played too much football. As Chairman of a Non-League side I get very frustrated when I see good talented young players coming through and then give up when they reach 17-20 years old because they’ve had enough of football. The players are worn out by the time they get to Adult football and good young talent is lost, thereby lowering the standard of adult football.

    Yes you can argue that other things get in their way, such as Girls/Boys, Beer, working etc. but many are just tired from playing too much. You can also argue that the parents shouldn’t allow it, but it’s easy to get carried away when your child is in high demand by local football clubs because they are recognised as being a good player. The best players are always being sought by eager coaches and teams who want the good players playing for them, regardless of whether they play for another club on another day.

    The answer would be to restrict players to playing for one team and playing only one organised club match per week, regardless of their age. The result may well be fewer teams but it is also an opportunity to give more players a chance to play.

    If there were fewer teams then the money within grass roots football would go a lot further to providing the necessary facilities for all. It would mean more of the youngsters coming through would still be interested in the game and the hard work of many Youth Team coaches would not be lost. It would also result in the overall standard of football across the country improving into League and Non-League Adult football.

  120. Ian Bennion on March 14, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    This is a great idea and not before time. One concern I do have is taht the max size of 80 Meters X 50 is too large. Min size of 70/40 is in my view, comfortable. Should have a major impact on developing skills as long as coaches stick to thier principles and encourage a ‘control, pass and move’ culutre.

  121. Roger Barnard on March 14, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    What you are proposing to do is not new as the Essex County Girls League (formerlyknown as Ormiston Girls League) have been using this format since 1993. We have been trying to break down barriers put in the way constantly by the FA and the County FA as we recognised, way back then, the benefits of playing small sided games therefore giving players more touches of the ball on smaller pitches.
    It is good news that finally the FA are going to encourage something we have believed in and have been doing, despite opposition by people who felt ‘it wasn’t real football’, for a long time.
    Ultimately, it can only be a long overdue benefit in the long run as long as it can only benefit the game in the long run and all we have to do now is, stop competitive league football at the younger ages and do away with goal difference in youth league’s.
    I can only wish you good luck in your venture.

  122. Kevin Robinson on March 14, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    I think going to summer football is the way forward March to November, i have lost the best part of 3 months to bad weather and water logged pitches. The parents don’t like coming out in the cold and some of the kids come off the pitch saying that they got cold feet and can’t kick the ball. Instead of league football how about a cup competition and friendlies which are done on a set schedule set out by the league.

  123. Carl Page on March 14, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    I coach an Under 9s team playing 7v7 mini soccer and this season the A team is playing in a competitive league but the B team is non-competitive (ie the results are not published and there is no league table).

    I feel this format works really well as it allows the better, more advanced players to compete against others with a similar outlook, and view how they are doing. It teaches them to win and lose which are equally important lessons to learn as they grow up.

    The non-competitive B matches allows other players the opportunity to progress. The matches themselves are still competitive by nature but there is no pressure on the players (and coach) to win and be judged by the league table. This in turn has made it easier to bring into the team new players with little experience of organised football.

    Also having a competitive A team means that they play against teams of a similar ability and as a result in most cases it naturally follows that the B teams are evenly matched too. Without this there is the danger that teams will be mis-matched which is no fun for anyone.

    Ultimately I feel there is a need for competitive football but all players develop at different rates and this format provides the best of both worlds, catering for the more advanced naturally competitive players (who have the right to be competitive) and also the slower developing players who may not yet be ready for this.

    I would be interested to know whether this has been considered.

  124. FULWELL FC U15 on March 14, 2011 at 11:10 pm

    Football is a great game for all to enjoy. Remember its a fun activity whether you play,manage,coach or help out. The game needs you.
    Our scouting system is aggressive and not child friendly. Parents need educating in nuturing young talent. Professional clubs give little if anything back into grassroots football.Its all about capture, not developing,nuturing.
    Rush,rush,rush. We waste time,we waste talent and in the end many players leave this great game. The ambitions there , the drives there but in the end there dreams are shattered.
    An academy contract is worthless until a player is offered a wage 16 if he is lucky. So why oh why do we waste time taking players away from club football at the age of 6-15. Develop them during the week and let them play for there club sides at the weekend. Put the fun back into the game.

  125. simon nunn on March 15, 2011 at 8:42 am

    Not just me then?. Carl Page has said the same thing about the A, B teams .

  126. Martin Wood on March 15, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    Simon is that not how a decent league structure works. The stronger teams play in the higher divisions, the weaker in the lower. Competitive football for all against teams of a similar ability. If teams improve then they move up the divisions.

  127. Steve Rolt on March 15, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    I welcome a lot of the FA’s proposed changes. In particular the efforts to overcome the bias towards the older players in each year group. At our local club where I manage we have A and B teams in the under 14’s, 15’s and 16’s. The B teams play in lower leagues and 80% of those B teams are made up from boys in the younger half of the year group. Purely due to their physical development. Consequently a large number of boys from these teams give up football when I know that as they mature these players will have the technical ability to be as good as those boys in the A teams.

  128. sean hellett on March 15, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    The changes for U11 to U14 are sound. The problem is the timescale for the changes. Between now and 2013/14 county leagues will haphazardly adopt making it difficult to make the transition. I currently coach U10 and want to move to the new format next year. This means I cannot stay in my current league. Furthermore if the do adopt in 12/13 we face the prospect of going 11v11 and then back to 9v9. Why can’t we just implement the changes and make the transition as painless as possible. Pitches are easy (marking across a 11v11 pitch)

  129. Keith Davis on March 16, 2011 at 10:24 am

    I agree all these changes would be of great benefit. But the F.A. who are all paid just pass the buck onto the unpaid volunteers who run leagues. These are a small band of dedicated people. It is fine travelling around all the County F.A. s reducating them. But in real life its just more and more work for the dedicated unpaid few. Also sick and tired of professional scouts constantly looking at 5/6 year olds, If they take a child they should be made to put something back into that childs Club. Might stop them just kicking them out when they find someone better. With 25 teams and 15 years of involvement. Disillusioned!

  130. barry jenkins on March 16, 2011 at 10:53 am

    How can the FA say that they care about young boys in football?My 8yr old son Harry loves his football and played in the c&dyfl under 8’s but it was suggested by the manager & secretary that he move up a yr to the under 9’s as he was finding the under 8’s far too easy.Harry moved up to under 9’s & absolutely loved it,he thrived on the challenge & had the same ability maybe even more ability than the older boys.Half way through the season we were told Harry could not play for the under 9’s because of the FA’S rules & regulations,he was devastated & i was damn angry,what a total waste of a fantastic young player no wonder this country can not find or produce top athletes & footballers anymore.My son carries on his football & has took the news on his chin & is still a fantastic footballer & wants to play for Halstead Alliance like his 15yr old brother.

  131. Bob Hill on March 16, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    Junior clubs cater for masses – the 90% plus kids who just want to play football – it is only a very few that make the grade however the professional clubs seem to trawl as many players as possible through scouts putting the players and parents on the merry-go-round of the academies and school of excellence until someone elsle comes along and we are left to pick up the pieces
    There seems to be more and more red tape just to get a kids game to take place – its seem the FA are turning the national game into big business – charging at every opportunity for some course or other or new equipment to enhance the game.
    The junior game needs beter facilities both playing and training together with better coaching all with more funding from the FA and the professional game

  132. James stewart on March 16, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    I think the introduction of 9v9 games is a brilliant idea, as a coach the jump from 7v7 to 11v11 is far to great for young kids these days, children improve as footballers by getting control of the ball and being able to express thereselves as footballers, 1o to 11 year olds with a limited ability very rarely get a touch of the ball and often feel like there making up the numbers, the introduction of 9v9 gives these players the time to improve before going to full size pitches and then less children will leave football. the sooner 9v9 is introduced the better.

  133. Neil Turbine on March 17, 2011 at 10:34 am

    After taking my eldest son through the academy system, and seeing the difference in the grassroots ‘park’ football now with my youngest son’s, the age relevent changes are long overdue, I would also like to see some leeway given to coaches to allow for the smaller kids to be protected from over physical aspects of the ‘ English ‘ game, ie match size as well as age for sides, we have all seen the huge differences in growth rates, that are compounded by the school year cut off for forming teams, leading to a small lad being overlooked because he is not big enough. Commonsense should take the lead,
    and do it sooner not later.

  134. k thomson on March 17, 2011 at 11:47 am

    my son was born on 1august and plays for north east profesional club academy i hav travelled all over england watch him play aganst other academys and is always youngest player because certain clubs will not look at summer d.o.b beleiving older players r beta well i can tell u i havnt seen a beta player in 3 years off watchin my son play the reason i think he is beta is because he gets told one word every game enjoy.im not sayin hes goin to be best in future but at this moment in time at his age of 10 playin at under 11 age group he is the best ive seen so age should not come into it wat u hav to hav is attitude /desire/enthusiasm/quality and beleive in yorself and be able to take that next step up and improve so small pitch big pitch if his good his good there is no excuses because football ia a buisnes to the big clubs so small clubs hav to pay the price

  135. Martin on March 17, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    Excellent points made. from my experiance over the lat couple of years managing under 7 – under 8 I would recommend

    1. Summer football season. If myself as a coach cant feel my feet then surely it is chld abuse to allow the kids to play in adverse weather.

    2. 9 v 9 is a fantastic introduction, 11 aside pitches to early ruin the game.

    3. Although i agree with non competitive football I feel the benefits can be minimal by not producing leagues due to the natural competitive nature of children. My child loves stats and i learned how to count from league tables.

    Lets play football in the summer, bring in 9 v 9 and scrap leagues till secondary school. Maybe it will make a change maybe not lets find out!

  136. Tony Casale on March 17, 2011 at 11:11 pm

    The proposal to introduce 9v9 as a stepping stone to full 11 a side games is a good idea. The only drawbavk to 9v9 will be that when the change is made to 11 a side clubs will either have to set up two eleven a side teams which would mean an additional coach or have a very large number of reserves/subs that may not play very much. The leap from mini football to full size pitches and goals is very daunting for children that are still learning the game and playing for enjoyment. The proposal to remove league tables is less welcome. From the earliest age children are competitive and the league system allows them to gain a sense of acheivment and motivation. The detrimental side of competitive football does not come from the children but coaches and parents and even without a league structure there will still be pressure to win from those coaches and parents.

  137. justin bayliss on March 18, 2011 at 9:36 am

    9 v 9 a brilliant idea, and long overdue, the amount of teams that have to fold due to the massive step from 7 a side to 11 a side is becoming ever increasing, however i do feel there is a need to keep some sort of competitive edge to a football match , i appreciate at an early age we want them to develop their footballing skills, but at some point these skills have to be put into a competitive environment and leaving it until players are 13 and 14 years of age is in my opinion too late.

  138. PT on March 19, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    Currently manage a under 7 team and thank god we will just make it to start competitive football at under 9 level. I strongly agreed with going from 7 a-side – 9 aside at under 11 but starting at 5 aside at under 7 level !!!! that means more coaches to attract, more pitches to find, more subs (unless you can make another team) !! and what is wrong keeping it competitive at under 9 onwards ? Because all these so called players are lost ! no they are not because all the academy clubs come along and take your best players leaving you the problem to go out and recruit others players for your team. How about these clubs paying a donation to your club when a player is taken so you can invest in your facilities this i,m sure will make the pro club scouts work harder and become more selective rather than use the current “throw enough mud at a wall and hope some of it will stick ” and take these kids for a couple of years, make their parents travel all over the country only to dump them when a new coach decides that they don’t think they will make it ! Back to the competitive side, kids love to win ! Coaches want to to win ! parents want to win ! I ask Trevor Brooking maybe look at the coaches England is producing and not the players as the current premier league has very few English managers and our National coach is from Italy. Invest more in coaches, make these coaching course free, get more adults wanting to coach and become part of local clubs then you may see a improvement in future generations !!!!

  139. dawnywells on March 19, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    I think the proposals are a great idea, summer games, 9 a side, bridging the gap etc…my son will benefit from all of the above.However…life is competitive and kids love playing in the league, i think it would be a bad idea to not allow competition at primary school age.

  140. anna robertson on March 19, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    my daughter playes in the under 14 team at the moment if the rules dont change she will have to leave a reaaly god team and start again i think they would benefit two seasons together rather than one and 9v9 helps then develop alt better x

  141. David Devine on March 20, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    I think removing the competitve edge from younger groups is a great idea. I too often have seen children fall away from footbal because of leagues and pushy parents. Most that I have asked would have said that they didn’t enjoy it precisely because all they wanted to do was play and train at football in friendly blitzs. If this rule changes will it affect northern ireland too?

  142. GRAEME MULLIN on March 20, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    Excellent proposals, it is the childs development at playing football that matters,learning to development there ball skills rather than the ego busting nation of win at all costs for the glory of a plastic trophy,which is mainly kick and rush,everwatched Barcelona lately……..

  143. Richard Starzak on March 20, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    Great! Should have been implemented years ago. I’d go further and have the boys playing 7 a side on the small pitch till 12-13.

    I don’t know why there is a lead in time for these changes. Start with next season.

  144. jarrod elcock on March 20, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    grass roots football will again achieve nothing in helping our game , if the game is to improve we must provide the appropriate facilities/coaching for children . football or any other sport is hardly played at schools any more, if we look to other countries you’ll find that they have qualified coaches/trainers in all areas so why don’t we.
    we must also remember its dark early evening for six months a year and floodlit pitches are approx £30 per hour .
    if you wish for more advice and structure on how to achieve this please email me.

  145. Dan Holland on March 21, 2011 at 11:33 am

    9 vs 9 is an excellent idea but I feel scrapping competitive football is not good. My eldest son cannot wait the see the league tables for his division win or lose and his younger brother is looking forward to next year when their results are published so a big yes to 9vs9 and NO to non competitive football.

    Investment needs to be made in more 3G pitches and lower costs to encourage football.

  146. J Browbank on March 21, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    I think that abolishing league tables for the U11’s is a great idea in theory. Hopefully it would mean that the “less able” players wouldn’t be left on the sidelines for most of the match and would have the same opportunity to develop their game as everyone else. However, even without league tables, I’m sure that managers and coaches would still be tempted to field their strongest side to ensure a win over a rival club!

  147. Linda on March 21, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    As the mom of a lad who was playing under 7’s a couple of comments

    Tougher control on who can manage a team. I have been shocked at some of the managers outburst at under 7 games.

    I’m fed up of seeing favouritism towards relatives. Infact it got so bad I have withdrawn my son from the team he was with. He was getting so little football every week it wasn’t worth the early starts and freezing. It’s not like he can’t play football (he has just been scouted by a premiership club) he just wasn’t amongst the “chosen few” on his team

    At under 7 it should be about enjoying the game and encouraging lads to play.

  148. Carl Page on March 21, 2011 at 10:15 pm

    I am confused by the aims of these proposals. I quote below the second paragraph of the document on this website:

    “Following repeated failures by the senior team at major championships and the inevitable calls for action that follow, the FA last month announced a Young Player Development Review, including 25 recommendations for English football that they hope will stop such calls happening ad infinitum.”

    My reading of this is that the aim is to ultimately improve the quality of our national team.

    However many of the comments supporting these proposals appear to support keeping less talented players involved in football and whilst I endorse this as a separate issue I fail to see how it helps achieve (what I perceive to be) the ultimate goal.

    I feel there are mixed messages here and before the FA proceed with any of these changes they need to be clear as to what their objectives are.

  149. dave Privett on March 22, 2011 at 7:43 am

    By and large i agree with the proposals , however i,m not so sure about the smaller teams for the under 8s the 7 a side seems to work well.

    also having pitches marked within pitches actually mean the whole of the centre of the pitch will end up like a bog rather than just the goal mouths.

    The final point is that the goals need to progress from the early years the current mini soccer goals are big enough for under 8s but by under tens they are i feel too small, again changing them =expense so its not easy

  150. Martin White on March 22, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    As a teacher (and headteacher) I have run school football teams for over 35 years, I have seen many changes to schoolboy/youth football. Following the introduction of 7 v 7 minisoccer some years ago, I am excited about the prospect of an intermediary 9 v 9 game before the children step up to 11-a-side football. this seems to make much sense and would support this proposal. I am not clear however about any changes to the rules for this game, Would there be offsides for example. What size would the penalty area be/ some clarity would help.

    I am not supportive however of the proposal to limit leagues and competitive cup competitions to children over primary school age. Although I fully understand about parental pressures and the impact this has on the children and the game, I believe that in the schools’ arena, competition between schools to be ‘healthy’ with behaviour and spotsmanship well managed by the teachers. I consider that without a league structure, some schools would simply ‘not bother’ and youth football would then take place for many pupils solely outside of school. This I believe would not be in the children’s best interests.

  151. jean guy quekette on March 22, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    here in canada, the national program is a useless because of geography, politics and the fact that 1/3 of the country are french and not english but in our province they decided to act about a dozen years ago and it paid off.

    the number of inside training fields both permanent and temporary inflatable domes has skyrcoketed because its unplayable from november to april (we still have 2 ft of snow on the fields outdoors). Kids have to play year round.

    having seen youth football in england, it just blows my mind this obsession with play in frozen swamps in the winter. you CAN NOT master technical skills when your toes are frozen. who cares about the pros… why arent kids playing a sport played with short from Mar to October?
    football is supposed to be fun and what ive witnessed in england with kids being told that the frostbite builds character and other stupid comments about making men out of them, looked anything but fun.

    4-5 year olds play footy related games. 6-7 play 5v5 with temporary soft nets, 8 to 11yr old play 7v7 and full field at 12. some start full field at 11 which I think is fine.

    no tables? why? losing is as part of life as is winning.
    however, there is a separation between recreational and competitive teams.
    take my eldests U10 te am, they have about 60-75 kids and make one team with the top 14 players who play against similar stronger teams. his best friends arent of the same caliber so they play in an easier competition, they play league games, go to tournaments (where teams have the choice A,B,C where they want their team to compete..nothingworse than going to a tourney and being blanked in all games)
    I have one problem with the 7v7 and its in the number of players, most teams have two full lines which they switch every few minutes so the child plays 5-10 mins and then rests the same amount and back on after that.
    4-5shifts totalling 20mins of running is not enough. better have a team play with one sub than too many.
    12 year olds are just too big and too fast for the small fields and more teams are putting their competitive teams on a big field at 11 which I think is fine..

    my friends son played recreationally until he was 12 and moved to competitive that year. lesson: kids dont all progress at the same rate. dont give up on them when they are 7-8.

    another thing was a campaign which translates in english to Stop Kicking it Out!! which is a play on what you hear on fields, the panicky screams of Out!OUT!!! Kick it OOOOOOUUUT!!!!
    everyone claims they want to improve kids over winning but it takes time. a fullback who is taught to chuck it up the line will never get better if he isnt allowed to ,…. make mistakes. playing it safe doesnt make Billy a better player..

    the important thing is to get all the different levels of youth football involved… directives from above often get overlooked at the bottom rungs where these things should be the most prevalent.

    but more importantly there has to be a culture shift.

    I lived in Spain in the early 80s and spanish football was ugly, brutish.. italian football without the flair.
    The culture shift since then has been astounding.

    canada has the same problem as england but in a far more minor sport, ice hockey,.. just like the english, canadians pride themselves in being real men… they have heart while other countries are cowards, they can hit and punch and be vicious while the other foreigners are only skilled players… only.
    does that sound like anyone you know?

    the amount of canadians playing in the league has dropped enormously simply because european players are coached in techniques and skills while the canadian plan involves playing with heart and giving it 110%.

    the macho ego of canadians (by the way, football became the number 1 sport in terms of registrations around the mid80s in canada. it now stands at 500,000 hockey and 870,000 for football and this fact will cause many to rage)
    is the cause of many of the same problems as the english have… our way is our identity. We dont see ourselves as inferior technically because thats NOT HOW WE play.

    that atittude is the biggest obstacle; any change to how football is played will be seen as an attack on the english qualities that have always predominated.

    still, its better than a few years back when the FA was warning of the dangers and bad things that come with too much ball control. at least some people have started to get it but getting dinosaurs at all level to make the jump seems still far fetched.

    Im not sure about the english pyramid but in north america the national federations are at least 5 levels away from the grassroots coaching and at least in canada the provinces are the catalysts. they are in contact with the various regionals organizations which have many clubs under their jurisdictions.
    going from national level to the coaching ranks take a lot of navigating.

    good luck and for gods sake, let the kids have fun.

    Oh yeah, let them play in the summer by all means.

  152. Dave on March 23, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    The new proposals are a fantastic idea. My son is becoming more disillusioned by the week at his coach’s emphasis on winning above all else (his team are the most successful in the area). It is noticeable that the ones used as substitutes more often are the youngest ones in the team so it bears out your stats. These proposals put the emphasis firmly back on enjoyment and skill development – where it should be. Why has it taken so long to get here and why can’t it be implemented sooner?

  153. Ian Dawson on March 23, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    Both my kids play in the Sunday league and I’ve been involved in the coaching. I really hope the FA implements these proposals, they are desperately needed. Putting little kids on full size pitches, often battling through appalling winter conditions, will never lead to the development of players good enough to win world cups!

  154. Dud on March 24, 2011 at 11:38 pm

    I am going to comment on the main thing in this report that I understand and this is the amending of the ages. At last the current system not just in football makes children give up not because they are really rubbish at sport but because they are battleing against children sometimes a year older. If you take 2 average footballers 1 born in Sept 1 born in Aug the one born in August will probably give up as they will consider themselves rubbish. That is club football / sport with potential lost by the 1000 each week.

    I will now look at this from a more personal and some may consider selfish area which involves pro football clubs. I have a son born in Mid July. Those 6 weeks are enourmos in his life. He plays up at under 8 even though he is yr 2 and next year because of not being able to play up ( competitive football ) he will have to play children of their own age. Fantastic the kids will be hated by everyone because they will beat clubs upwards of 20 – 0 and postional play will be very difficult as there are not enough kids at that higher standard. So how do they develop – they get into pro club under 8 elites – fantastic they can play against kids of the same ability – o but now my selfish bit. I would suggest that the clubs rightly are aiming for academy sides and therefore need to pick the best. Now I would suggest that out of all the kids at under 7 regularly going to the academy my son is somewhere between 15th and 25th – therefore borderline to get into the elites. If he was allowed to play down a year he would probably move from where he is to the top 5. Think of the pressure that takes off. He could actually enjoy high level football without having to produce the best he can everytime without fail.

    The one problem I have is from the elite / centre of excellence / academy point of view why are these age changes not being brought in with immediate effect. If my son does not get elite at 8 for him to keep up he will need to travel miles to other clubs as the years age and extra coaching other kids get means he will never catch up. My son needs to play up at least year but he also needs a pro club to play at his own level.

  155. Paul on March 25, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    I agree strongly with the non-competative league for junior teams as I am really not looking forward to a competative under 9s league next year, Ive seen rows on touchline, kids not playing becasue of league position and I dont get it.

  156. Coach Gaz on March 29, 2011 at 11:20 am

    Our young players are the future and this is the way forward. Lets give our young players every chance to improve ball control, skills, tricks and make their own decisions.

  157. Stephen on March 29, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Under 10s downwards should have all these rules implemented, no question of that. They are just not physically capable of playing on big pitches, however, from under 11 upwards they are ready, and they love it, take that away from them and you ruin it for them.
    Why not ask the kids what they would prefer? I can guarantee you I know what the answer would be as I have seen it first hand.
    We have actually had kids join our club because we play on a big pitch in a competitive league and thats exactly what some kids thrive on. Keep it open for clubs/leagues to decide themselves, provide a mixture to keep both happy, but dont make anything mandatory. Just my opinion.

  158. Paul on March 30, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    My son currently plays in the local under 10’s league which is 7v7. One of the problems we have is how much the 7 a side pitches differ in size. Our home team is a big 7 a side pitch and the kids love it, they realise that they need to pass a ball quickly and accuratly to save there legs. Some of the teams play on the same pitches they played 5 a side on. This needs resolving.
    I think instead of going to 9 a side they should remain 11 a side but play on a 3/4 pitch with the smaller goals.
    The biggest point which the FA seem to have missed is the provision of facilities for the kids to learn on. We have to pay £50 per game for pitch hire and try and get onto a local council field for training. In the winter we have to use astro turf pitches which can cost upto £35 per hour. There should be funding from the FA to the kids teams to help them, maybe then more kids will have a chance to play as there will be financial help to the managers to keep the teams running. This would lead to the creation of more local kids teams. In our league there are not enough teams for the kids so if they are not at the same level as the other kids they are turned away, this isnt right and the local leagues should be activley help start teams and provide help to kids find a team.

  159. Simon Wilkinson on March 31, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    Why does the game have to be geared toward national level and professional clubs! 99.999% of children will get nowhere near playing professionally. They want to play competive football with their friends in an organised environment. Thise who don’t want to play in leagues don’t have to. MOST BOYS AND GIRLS DO HOWEVER. 7 a-side, 5 a-side, 9 a-side – where are all these matches going to be played? The councils and schools will need fresh pitches, new goalposts, newly adopted pitch sizes – its a nonsense and will never happen in the curreent climate of cutbacks and playing field sell offs

  160. P G Bilsdon on March 31, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    I have read most of these posts no-one has yet commented that it will not matter where the age threshold is set i.e. Sept, Jan, May children in the first third will tend to be more “mature” – physically than those in the last third. Why not use the system that most other European countries use i.e. two year groups U8, U10, U12 etc (although many give them letters A,B,C etc or names Juniors, Cadetes etc) what this means is that in the second year the older children have moved up, its worked well to my knowledge for over thirty years.

  161. Poz on March 31, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    I recently started a new venture aimed at developing young players and making football fun.
    In the short period it has been going the results have been beyond my expectations. Not only can I see player improvement in technical ability, decision making and self confidence but more importantly the kids just love turning up to play!
    See essexfutsal.vpweb.co.uk

  162. Stuart Dingley on March 31, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    I have been a manager / coach of junior football teams for 20 years, and also am secretary of a North West club with teams from u7s to u16s.
    Here are my experiences:
    The game at grassroots level is unrecognisable and greatly improved for all children who want to play from what it was 15 years ago, so credit to the powers that be for their efforts so far.
    However whenever the national team fail to perform we always have a root and branch reveiw of grassroots football, which is quite laugable really.
    Did nobody notice that all the most developed players physically and technically sign for Academys when they are 9years old, with all the very best coaching and non competative football they play you would have thought that it may have been brought to Mr Brookings attention that perhaps its the Academys that are failing, not grassroots football, what changes are to be implemented in this arena.
    And an interesting point for all the people whos purpose in life is to get their child into an academy. I was speaking to the chief scout of a massive premier league club only a few weeks ago he enlightened me as follows: Of the 12 players who make the elite academy squad at every age group the club are looking to bring one player through, the other eleven are there to assist in that goal. His words not mine.
    Why do juniors not play summer football, every team players and parents ( yes they are important to ) at our club love the summer tournaments so personally do I. My overriding memory ofall the ones that I have attended over the years is the higher level of technical skill on show than in the winter leagues. And someting that will be an issue for many club treasurers, if all my clubs teams played summer football our £5600 winter training bill could be better spent on providing a higher standard of coaching for every team.
    You will remember not to long ago that all schools ceased competative sport in favor of its the taking part that counts, the results are there for all to see if you just care to look, its an appauling inditement of the country as a whole
    and we have reaped the rewards.
    Junior football should be a family occasion every week for all to be enjoyed by all.
    There wont be a single league in the country where parental behaviour is not an issue. The issue is how it is dealt with by the clubs. I can take you to the ground of every team in every league u7s – u17s of our local league where there will be trouble every week , and although our league work very hard and tirelessly to remove such teams from the league it doesnt go nearly far enough. Managers, parents and then clubs should be expelled for the good of the game, it wont be a moment to soon in a lot of cases.
    This is the single most important issue that faces junior football in this country and should be tackled head on by everybody concerned. Not with respect campaigns or parents charters but with direct action shut the clubs down. Respect discipline and true sportsmanship and learning will sureley follow:
    Leadership comes from the top and as children
    watch so much football these days discipline has to be right and action seen to be taken with big bans for the pupitrators if it doesnt happen dont be surprised when the oppositions centre half in an u10s game elbows your centre forward in the face when he thinks the ref isnt looking !!
    Something to think about, how many time have you heard the dutch model is fantastic then we must look at spain and learn lessons over and over agin I here this drivel talked by pundits and the like. What I have never heard in my twenty years is lets look and study and learn very very impotant lessons from the way GERMANY do it a Winning mentality, they never come to participate they come to win.
    THE END.

  163. philip byfield on April 1, 2011 at 6:42 am

    im sorry i do not beleave that you should take away the league tables for u9s and u10s in the next 3 years we do not play the foreign way , i do beleave that 9 x 9 is good for everybody well done there , what you will do is send kids over to private concerns just for the money they will not jion football clubs

  164. John Farley on April 7, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    What help will leagues get to help our already budget cut councils to implement all the changes ,our local council struggles to mark out exsisting pitches on a regular basis.this current season .

    Will the new 9v9 11 & 12 teams play mini soccer rules ie no offside no indirect free kicks etc or F.A.11 a side rules.

    John Farley

    Vice President (Stourbridge & District Youth League)

  165. Steve Cook on April 14, 2011 at 11:01 am

    Sorry if this has already been said, but I have not had time to read all responses so far. The current proposed change to 9-a-side and non-competitive football is supposedly going to fix the issues seen at international level where the SA World Cup highlighted England’s inability to compete with its European neighbours.

    Well seeing as the vast majority of that squad were at pro clubs from the ages of 8 and 9, where they play 9-a-side non-competitive football, doesn’t this just prove that those proposed changes are a waste of time?

    If all clubs were forced to provide junior 11-a-side pitches then it would fix the one issue I think this game suffers from – U11’s playing on full-sized adult pitches with full-sized goals.

    It has already been proven that 9-a-side, non-competitive football does not provide great England players of the future and grassroots football is so far removed from the Premier League and International football it will have little or no impact changing the whole structure of our game. It has also been proven in experiements that kids can get more touches playing 11-a-side versus 9-a-side, so that breaks that argument down as well.

    In summary, a great coach will produce and develop great players whether they play 5-a-side, 7-a-side, 9-a-side or 11-a-side. An inadequate coach will not suddenly be able to wave a magic wand, in the shape of 9-a-side football, and suddenly see a dramatic improvement in his players.

    The FA should look at the pro game, not the grassroots game, and ask these clubs why they are taking good footballers aged 8 and 9 and not producing an England team able to compete on an International level.

    For the rest of us we’re left to pick up the pieces, implemenet a costly and unworkable structure which will subsequently increase picth use and eventually become unmanageable.

    Thanks FA!

  166. Dave Dalton on April 15, 2011 at 10:29 am

    At last some common sense. 9 v9 is a great idea and the proper stepping stone to full size football.
    However, we should be careful not to stunt the natural competative spirit which develops in our youngsters which can be distored by over eager junior managers influenced by our national league excesses.

  167. Granville on April 16, 2011 at 9:41 pm

    I have commented on another element of the site.

    Now the academys have the responsibility to provide the next England players not grass route football. Can the FA provide stats on how many England players have come from grass route football and the academys in the last 2oyrs.

    I have seen it at U7 football academy age groups the X factor selection. We will bring as many kids in as possible from clubs train they for a couple of months and then say to a group you can stop and then to another group sorry we don’t want you now.

    If you are looking at stripping competitive football away then this practice needs to stop. The kids at 6 and 7 are competing to remain in the academies and let me tell you the disappointment of being told at this age is more damaging than a player not winning a game, the league or cup. The rejection at any age sticks with them and knocks confidence and ultimately risks losing a player who has shown some ability.

    The Fa appears to be happy to play with kids emotions through their FA standard academies and do not address this but are more than happy to make coaches at grass route football jobs more difficult. We are here to let kids in the local areas to come and play the magical game with their friends, to dream they are their favorite player, playing for England but they know they are not going to make it, they just want to play. Don’t make it too difficult. Look closer to home address the academies

  168. Stefania Parocki on April 22, 2011 at 9:55 am

    As a parent of 3 young boys who are involved in local league football I believe there needs to be a lot more transparancy in football as some of the situations both my partner and I have faced in football at this level has been farcical and at most damaging to young children
    With reference to the age of the child and when they were born in the academic year I agree. I have a son who was born in August and one in October and I strongley believe that my youngest son is disadvantaged not just due to his age but also his height/size whilst I can comfortabley state that at the level he is currentley playing at he is at the top end of the scale in ability although not maturity (aged 7) Bless him.

    In general I do believe that the size of the pitch should in relation to the age of the children is a good thing. Not so sure about the non competitiveness. All my boys are competitive at different degrees but have learnt to deal with all aspects of being competitive from a young age including the emotional side. It’s a competitive world out there for good or for bad!!!

  169. John Curtis on April 25, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    I run an U11s team that includes one girl who is desperate to continue playing with the mates that she has grown up with over several years.Apparently the FA say she must join a girls team next year and leave us. She is our strongest player physically and was selected for a new girls academy scheme from players all over the county.In other countries mixed football continues well beyond age 12, can we not allow her to stay with her team unless and until she can no longer cope physically.
    I am in favour of moving to 9 a side on smaller pitches for another 2 years.Our goalie could never reach the bar of a full size goal and several of our players would struggle to defend high balls in a full size environment. This gradual move makes obvious sense

  170. Paul Glynn on April 27, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    My comments on all the proposals:
    a) Increase in small-sided football – absolutely critical.
    b) I believe 9 v 9 is an excellent proposal.
    c) Competitive – I have no problem if leagues remained competitive BUT my concern is how the competitive element influences the coaches behaviour. It is too easy for a coach to set up the team with the emphasis on winning e.g. one big lad at the back to boot the ball up the field and one big lad up front to bang the goals in; don’t bother trying to play out of defense – just get it away etc etc. It is terrifically effective in the young age groups but extremely damaging to the development of the individuals. If making this change influences coaches to take more chances, let players take more risks; get them to really focus on playing good technical football thens its could be a very positive move.
    d) Summer football – Absolutely. Long breaks in regular training slows development of youth players. As long as volunteers are willing then go for it.
    e) Age group changes – nonsense; moving the arbitrary current age groups based on school class years to another arbitrary cut off date. no easy solution to this one though. I think it is down to coaches at grass root levels to understand the physical differences and advantages and to try to spot potential in smaller players and make real efforts to keep children of all ages involved with the clubs (as opposed to the easy option; he’s bigger, stronger, faster – he’s in the team). Also, I fear this may cause U6s and U7s to drop out of clubs cos they cannot play in the same team as their school mates.

    All in all, I think the FA are trying to move in the right direction.

  171. Guy on April 27, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    Couple of things:
    It is not against FA rules for a player to play up a year. The FA rules state that the age difference between the eldest and the youngest needs to be no more than 2 years. This allows players to play up at least a year.

    Secondly a number of comments are about not playiong players in fair rotation, or always having the same players as subs. This is not a result of competitive leagues, but competitive coaches. These people would behave the same irrespective of whether the leagues are copmpetitive as they would want to win all thier games.

    A better approach would be for the FA (or the local FA’s) to encourage fair rotation as part of the Coaching badges. Or for the local FA’s to make it a prinicple of their leagues below a certain age (and perhaps below the top division in their league)

    As a coach I am clear about my selection policy which gives preference to those parents who put time in (about 3 of us), the rest are on a rotation providing they turn up for training and are generally available. If I have a game where I might want to field a stronger team (perhaps to stop us getting thumped, we are bottom) I make sure that I pick the weaker players for the game the week before.

    I started the season with a squad of 11, I now have 17, and thats my personal measure of success.

  172. football purist on April 30, 2011 at 12:23 am

    If Maradona or Messi were born in the UK they would not have stood a chance to make it to the top. Unfortunately size matters here and children are not taught to play footbaland enjoy it; they are pushed to win games by mostly incompetent coaches. All coaches must be made to watch all of Spain’s matches and learn about football basics.

  173. Martin Leivars on May 1, 2011 at 9:35 pm

    Hi I have a few issues…
    I have just moved back from Spain where my Son whom is 9yrs old has for the last 3 years been playing above himself including playing for VillaReal, I have since joined Blisworth Yellows in Northampton where he has been playing 7v7 Under 10’s they have just won the league very comfortablly and my son is finding it easy. so next season all his team mates are going to play 9v9 in the Northampton league but because my son was born in October 2001 the rules stae he has to drop back down to U10’s which will be his own age group. I feel as though this is a huge step backwards for a child who has played all his life in the very high standard of Spanish football but now hes standing out here in the UK hes made to go backwards by playing at his own age group even though he finds playing above himself very easy he wants to go with his team mates to 9v9 but apparently the rules state he has to stay at 7 v 7 because of his date of birth, this is called age discrimination and could harm his footballing career, can anyboby please help me, thanks… Martin

  174. Martin Leivars on May 1, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    Why cannot the FA see what is going on in Spain its very simple, all children are medically tested by the Spainish Football federation and then play in the league of the year they was born ie. 2001 or 2002 or 1yr above the year they was born not on there school year which the FA require this is why in the UK we are not producing enough home grown kids just look at the Spanish I think it says it all…

  175. peter on May 5, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    9v9 is only a good idea if enough pitches can be created with reduced goal sizes. One of the biggest game spoilers at that age is the long lofted shot that the goalie is simply too short to stop. Less players on a pitch would only increase that problem as more space would create more time to hit the ball higher than the keeper. My main change I would like to see is at u18 level where you have 16 year old boys being left out of a game as you can only play 3 from 5 substitutes. No manager I know thinks this is fair if you turn up then you should play a part if only 5 minutes. How many of the FA or FIFA would turn up week in week out to sit on a bench.. these are not professional paid footballers these are young kids staying fit and having fun playing football.. or not if they cannot play. Go and watch an u18 match the manager will turn up with 14 as he cannot leave kids out.. let them all play is what i say not necesarily rolling subs that could stop but telling kids to play on with injuries because the last sub has been made is rubbish… Go on FA have a look at the bottom division of an organised league do those kids really need to be following the professional rules?

  176. Terry Jackson on May 13, 2011 at 4:23 am

    I have been coaching (eufa b certificate) for 12 years. I took my last team from under 7’s to under 16’s. I know every ground in my county which is south east London and Kent (SELKENT LEAGUE) In theory it is a good idea but due to space I know it just couldn’t be accomodated. SUMMER SOCCER. If we want out footballers of the future to learn basic skills ect summer soccer would be a huge step forward. For example this season 2010/11 from November to February our team had 9 matches called off due to weather. thats over 2 months worth. We are now expected to play double bankers to catch up. Play the season from March to August youngsters are much more enthusiastic in the good weather than standing around in freezing conditions. No matter how good a coach you are you try to teach a player basic techniques when the ball is thick with mud. You try to keep a group of youngsters interested when the temperature is nearly freezing. These are the players we expect to come through hopefully and be equipped with the basic skills necessary to become great players. In Spain they have decent weather. In Brazil they have decent weather. In Italy they have decent weather. All the countries we associate with flair, natural ability great control play in the sun or at least no on ploughed fields. One of my earliest coaching memories was of me scraping an inch of mud off of a ball while I was refing an under 7 match. The kids couldn’t kick the ball more than a few feet. They couldn’t run because their boots were thick with mud and we expect them to be able to do a Cruft turn or hook turn ect in those conditions. Half our current season is affected by the weather. I’m not saying that the reason we don’t produce great players is because of 3 or 4 months of bad weather but when we have good weather the players refleck it in their enthusiasm. Yes it would confict with cricket but how many of us have cricketers in our teams. Summer football is the way forward along with small sided (on appropriate pitches) soccer)s

    I have a second point. All pitches should be roped off at least 1 meter. All clubs could buy poles that have a tape you pull out and stretch it to another pole. As a regular lines man I am always blinded by parents all stepping forward to see the play and blocking view. They would get the same view behind a rope. Finally please ban any parent or manager who verbally abuse referees or linesman. There is not a game goes by that serious abuse is not heard.

  177. Johan Oosterling on May 18, 2011 at 9:40 am

    Hi I am from Holland and I run the Dutch Football Academy in Holland.

    Why play 5 a side? At this age group we don’t need to develop goalies yet, we need to develop football skills. Play 4 v 4 instead without goalies, more ball contacts, more enggement and more goals equals better skilled young players and more fun.

    U11’s should play 1 more year 7 a side then move to possible 9 a side the age group of up to 12 years old are at the ideal age to develop skill so it is essiential to play 7 a side at this age group. The age group between 13-16 is ideal for technical as well as tactical development so it only makes sense to move them to a bigger pitch at that age group.

    The 9 v 9 pitch should be played on full width of a pitch. This promtotes children recognising where the space is to run into. It develops wing play and gives players a little bit more time on the ball on the flanks this increases confidence in players taking on players on the wings. The same thing for 7 a side, in Holland they play across a half of an 11 a side pitch and there no goalie areas marked out. It’s a much more relaxed way to provide football. 4 v 4 is played on a quarter of a full size pitch in Holland just with coned areas. In England all smaller sided football games are just smaller copies of the adult game and this formal approach is causing adults not to differentiate between mini soccer and 11 a side. Together with the extremely poor level of coaching from a majority of clubs which is often focussed on winning this Sundays match rather than developing football skills in a structured way is the reason why England has had some of the highest dropout rates in Europe. Children are now used to winning a trophy for farting because of this must give everyone a trophy culture. Children shouldn’t been given trophies unless they’ve actually won something. Man of the match trophies and end of season trophies for everyone devalues winning and has contributed to children expecting a trophy when they turn up. There is nothing wrong with keeping up scores and league tables, let children at all age groups play from September – December (league 1) and from February – May (league 2). Playing 2 leagues per year is a great way to give children a fresh and more level start in the 2nd league and with smaller divissions it is more likely that the teams are more evenly matched. In the 2nd league it would get those clubs who are clearly better than all the others the opportunity to play teams of their own level.

    I think the FA needs to do some research in countries like Spain, Portugal, France, Germany and Holland. In Holland in the mid 80’s they brought in 4 v 4 as a training tool and fun matches. In 88 Holland won the Euro and sinds then Holland has produced top international talent every decade. They work with the T-I-C method. Technique, Intelligence and Conditioning with each section they focus on a certain age group. No running around the park as warm up for 5-16 year olds as conditioning is focussed on the age 16+. I am sure that there are fantastic trainers and coaches out there but they often work with elite players. Grassroots is missing the structure and properly set out aims for each age groups, therefore a lot of coaches do whatever they have been taught or what they know.

    I started my academy last year with 22 children out of frustration that my son didn’t get proper coaching but was standing in queues of 14 people and was told to do running and stretching as a 5 year old instead of joint mobility exercises with the ball like ball mastery skills. My academy now coaches more than 700 children per week and we will enter 10 teams in the Tandridge youth football league in 2011-2012.

    We use the same coaching methods as used in Holland and have the same culture within our club giving every player the same opportunity to enjoy playing football. We use 4 v 4 matches in many different formats as a training tool on Saturday mornings, the kids will just play matches with constant coaching from adults.

    For anybody interested go to dutchfa.co.uk

    Johan Oosterling

  178. CK on May 19, 2011 at 12:08 am

    I think these proposals are a good idea. At a young age kids football should be about having fun, learning respect for the manager and other team members and improving football skills.
    I have become very disapointed with the club my son has been at for 3 years. Yes, he’s not a good player but he doesn’t get the chance to improve. Every week we go along to a match they warm up for 30 minutes, the A team plays followed by the B team and if he’s LUCKY he’ll get 10 minutes at the end. By this time the other players are warmed up and into the game while he is coming on cold so is bound not to do well. He even didn’t get played 2 weeeks running. I know he’s not the best player but feel the club has taken on too many players and pushed the weaker ones out. They are also putting too much on winning, for goodness sake it’s only a game!!! At this age it should not be so competitive and they should all get a chance.
    He has only one season left at 7v7 and I know he won’t go forward to the 11v11 team as they will have to drop from 2 teams to one and they have way too many players. These proposals will come in too late for him which is a great shame.
    We have had more heart searching regarding football than anything else and if I had my way he’d do another sport where there wasn’t so much pressure so anything that will improve the situation is good in my book.

  179. Chris Ray on May 23, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    I help to coach soccer at a Prep School in Kent on Friday afternoons. I am not a teacher, but am well aware that at many schools, soccer (among a number of other sports) is coached by unqualified but enthusuastic amateurs. This may be less of a problem at club level, but schools very often provide the main soccer exposure in the lives of their pupils. With the enormous effort made by teachers, often in their own time, overlooked at our peril, I would venture that this new initiative for smaller sided games on smaller pitches will stretch the resources of many schools who will not have the manpower available to oversee a greater number of games. I am not convinced that asking the kids to referee such games is a good idea.
    I also think that these volunteers should be given every opportunity to obtain some expoure to modern coaching techniques. I suspect that this will be most effectively delivered locally, with a specialist FA coach visiting individual schools to provide a seminar to all those staff who will be delivering the coaching techniques to the youngsters.
    I also believe it is vital that the smaller pitches are made to look and feel like a proper soccer arena, with marked lines and goals with nets. Cones and markers are all very well for drills and practices, but players will never feel fully satisfied with a proper game unless the conditions closely match the pitch characteristics of the adult game. From what I read of the proposals this matter is recognised and efforts will be made to accommodate this.
    One final observation: placing a sign on the sleeve of premier league players with the word “Respect” on it is in danger of backfiring when so many still question the authority of the referee so volubly and with apparent impunity. It is shown week in and week out on television to be absolutely meaningless when it comes to senior players’ attitudes to the referee. This remains one of the most serious problems in the game at present. It is in stark contrast to the respect shown to referees in the schools soccer I have watched at U13 and U15 level in recent years. Why does it become so diluted thereafter?

  180. kkerr on May 30, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    u hav to learn from yor mistakes in football and by god did i/now i will tell u the story it goes bak to 14years a go wen my son who was 10 years old got scouted for a trail with a academy like any other father i was delighted for my son i always new he had talent desire ability and thought the academy wud b great in other words i jumped in with 2 feet so the 3 years traveling to games and watchin him play and being coached learnt me more than i thought we will cum to that/ later/ at the time i was like everyone else wen r we ever goin to win the world cup we only get top class footballers wen we hav a top class team but all the acadmy wanted was individual talent not a team off great players anyway the morale off the story is my son is now 23 and has a great life in the army playing football all over the world for them and i truly beleive could hav made a great footballer with the right people but they didnt want a player with skill to take players on and run with the ball or play one and two touch football so as i said at the start u learn from yor mistakes but they wore not my mistakes they wore the academys but i learnt/so to the present day and the story just begins my other son is being scouted by every club in the north east so just out off curiosity i took him to the club where my other son went and i can tell u not a thing has changed so no wonder we will never win world cup with this set up /i wasnt going to toss this son to the academy who offered him a one year contract after one game for them my son at the moment is having one to ones with a ex profesional who teaches how to play like messi xavi inesta way not like academy coaches boot boot boot no football got to score well i learnt from my mistake but i no lots off kids with talent not geting a chance but at the end off the day i hav to look after number one my son and i will tell you theres not a better player in any academy in england than my son because he goes uot and plays and enjoys it without presure off academys he is now nearly 11 and i no he will hav to go to a club soon but it wont be to an english club it will b barcelona who want him so england will lose a great player and no im not a bullshiter just an ordinary father from a council estate who has a son with great potencial its the academys who giv u bullshit in this country any sponsors are wellcome to help development off my son tel 07981732071 thats the story join me on our journey to the top

  181. Wilko on June 5, 2011 at 8:39 pm

    Think the ideas are a refreshing change – lets remember that most of the children involved in youth football will never become professionals and just play for fun. It is certainly not fun when they are being screamed at from the sidelines week in week out.
    I run an under 7s (about to be under8s) team and having been involved in coaching one of my older sons teams previously (for 6 years) have learnt a whole lot along the way.
    This season we have played in a friendly league (no tables etc) and once the parents understood the benfits of this they became much more positive with their voices on the sidelines.
    We play 7 aside and I have a squad of 11. Basically all boys play in all positions week to week, both left sided and right sided and also in goal. Each gets at least 15 minutes (games last 30 mins) and during the year the have all played on average the same amount of game time (regardless of initial “ability”)
    I have read many of the comments on here and I am disappointed that people still talk about weaker and stronger players.
    Ability and performance in many cases is often someones personal opinion (everyone would pick a different England team!) – equally if the “weaker” players do not get an opportunity to play equal game time how will they ever progress.
    As a result of my particular ethos ALL the boys have improved significantly in all positions and the team has also made massive strides in terms of performances (which may or not mean winning – great performances can still be beaten by other teams great performances).
    I should also not struggle in the future for a goal keeper as I have a team full of them!!
    One earlier comment talks about how we need to teach our children to win if we want to help them succeed – I think we need to teach them to win lose and draw and to evaluate their own performances – we do not need league tables to do this – the game itself provides the competition – but at least without league tables there is less pressure.
    Well done FA for these forward looking proposals.
    One final note…
    If you do what you have always done; you will get what you have always got…
    and in England’s case that is very little!!

  182. paul fernandes on June 6, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    I am the father and coach of a 7 yo. I hold the fa level 1 coaching badge but also played professional football in the uk and Australia till i was 25. I breath football and am appalled the stereo types that actually exist in english football and continue to blind the general public as to why the national team cannot play under pressure at tournaments. Since taking over coaching my sons team I have seen 3 of the boys join a premier league academy and was dismayed at how readily they discard kids of 7 based on their physical capabilities rather than their skill….ironically they even bombed the son of their diminutive striker because he was too small? southgate and levett have managed tograb the key issues inflicting kids football and started to infiltrate the football philosophies of england …. but it needs sustained momentum which will only come from the parents and stakeholders of grassroots kids footy….but how do we hold this together…thatisnt clear?

  183. Lorraine on June 7, 2011 at 11:20 pm

    First of all we are in England and not Spain, Germany or Holland. We play the English way and to change that I think that you will need more then a life time … If the game was intended not to have winners then we would not have goals. If the FA want us to play non competitive why not take away the goals so none can be scored. I can’t name any other sport where you are asked to be non competitve. You would not ask a runner not to win a race neither would you ask a tennis player not to win a game.
    If this becomes non competitive for ages U7 to U13’s then I think that you will find players will leave for a sport where they can be winners. Who in their right mind would get up on a frosty Saturday or Sunday to watch a friendly, every week and pay for it too….I see it now at U7’s & U8’s When it is cold you can barely put a team out. Maybe if they stopped the academies taking all the young players @ 7 years and let them enjoy this lovely game and look at them at the age of 15 where the can be accessed Seriously 9v9 is a good idea as my son who is U11’s and played 9v9 this year as we did not have enough players to go from 7v7 to 11v11, BUT we have found it very difficult getting a pitch to accomadate this. Yes of course have sanctions with regards to kids football but don’t take the fun out of it. We now have more Level 1 coaches then ever due to the FA RULES & REGS, DOES THAT MAKE THEM GOOD COACHES OF COURSE IT DOES NOT. You need to be competitive in life as long as you are enjoying it and at the end of it kids are running around being healthy. Surley that should count for something and as for the FA asking countless clubs and children, which clubs I belong to one of the largest clubs in south east and we did not get approached. This is grassroots not premiership sort out the trouble at the top first!!!!

  184. Simon Delaney on June 10, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    So instead of all the September/October kids getting snapped up by the academies it will be the Jan/Feb kids. What is the point? Clubs cant see past birth bias anyway.

  185. trevor shields on June 13, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    I think by cutting the girls centre of excellance from 50 to 30 is killing the game the girls that have to leave the centres are going backwards if they wanted to make there own team up local FAs wont let them join (kent fa is one of these) hope powell the untouchable manager is ruining the game

  186. tony towers on June 14, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    Just finished module 1 of the new Youth award. without doubt the most imformative FA course i have experienced and i previously have managed to attain level 2. The “new philosophy” is about how we give the kids the tools to become better players and coaches need to be brave and to concede that winning at an early age is not important but provide the players with the correct attributes and they may well become winners. Its hard to see what continuing in the same way as we have for decades will achieve, lets try something else. As for pro clubs, they will continue to take the above average kids as fodder for the few excellent ones they need to keep happy. Let them get on with it, grassroots clubs at the heart of communities can maintain the enjoyment and improve the standards of players of all abilities, its just a question of changing your mentality.

  187. michael on June 15, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    i have been involved in youth football for a good many years now and i have seen alot of young players leave the sport when moving from 7v7 to 11v11 in my view i think all young players should make the move up to 9v9then 11 v 11 i have lost a lot of playeres to other leagues due to this big step up many parent come to me and say they think its to big of a step so move onto othere leagues where they play 9 v 9 after 7v 7

  188. Stuart Byles on June 16, 2011 at 11:48 pm

    I like almost all of the proposals but I don’t any real benefits from the changes to year-group date change.
    I believe that a “Gray” area around the current academic year would achieve more parity for the summer babies.
    If a player born from June to December could play in the older or younger age group, whichever is closest to their birthday, then they will be able to play in the year group they feel most comfortable in.
    you could even go so far as to allow a 6 month allowance either way.
    I currently coach an under 11 team.

  189. Stuart Byles on June 17, 2011 at 12:42 am

    I’m dissapointed that there is no mention of going further in pushing the mixed team age-group higher.
    There is no credible argument to support forcing players (girl players) out of the game at any age.
    If a girl is good enough to be in the team then who would say she shouldn’t be there.
    It’s a bit like when the latest teenage English star comes into the Premiership. People ask “Is he old enough to play for England?” and the answer always comes back “If he’s good enough, he’s old enough”.
    The same is true for girls, the size/strength argument doesn’t hold water, look at Zola standing by Drogba, it’s talent that matters.
    What about Changing facilities? Kids turn up ready to play in youth leagues and in other low leagues time sharing the facilities is not unfeasible.
    All bigger cubs have the resources to deal with the required extra facilities.
    The other main argument is that it would harm the women’s game, well that’s like the 1960’s Alambama state government saying that allowing black students to go to white schools would be bad for black schools.
    We don’t need to separate women’s and men’s football, talent is what separates teams, not sexual makeup.
    At the same time I would uphold any team’s right to be a “Girls Team” or a “Boys Team” and even to play in a “Girls League” or “Boys League”, just take away the mixed teams rule completely and leave it to the clubs and coaches to decide.
    Do you think Alex Fergusson would play a female striker? Of course he would, if he thought she was good enough.
    We need to try and encourage more girls to stay in some kind of sport after primary school and in football we’re making it very hard for them to stay in the best team sport there is.
    It’s easy to get 5/6 year old girls into football, it’s very difficult to get 11/12/13/14/15/16 year old girls interested so why make them leave the team that they’ve become apart of at any age.
    Let the girls play with the boys at any age and any level and, one day we’ll see a girl in the England team and, what’s more, she’ll be good enough to be there.

  190. Matt on June 20, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    I personally think kids playing competitive footbal is ok but not until they’re in Senior School (11 or 12 yrs old). I’m new to kids football (my 7 yr old started playing this season) and I cannot believe the cliche’s are all true. Big kids in defense, fast kids up front and long ball all the time. It appears that if a kid tries a skill or a turn and unfortunately loses the ball he’ll be told off, but then see the applause if he punts it 30 yards! I think moving kids to 11 v 11 too early just causes this type of tactic due to the pitch size. I’m a believer in 5 v 5 for the 6 and 7 yr olds, 7 v 7 for 8 and 9, 9 v 9 for 10 11 and 12 yr olds and then a move to 11 v 11 from 13 and above. I think there’s an interesting post from Lorraine ( a few down from here) where she comments ‘we play the English way’. I’d like to know when the English way changed? I’ve been watching some old 1966 & 1970 world cup re-runs on ESPN and the way England played then is much more similar to how the Spanish play now. Gordan Banks hardly ever kicked the ball long, all goal kicks were short balls to feet, all free kicks in our own half were short to feet rather than a big punt up-field. Our defense either ran with the ball before releasing it (once again usually a short pass to feet) or played possession. You could count the amount of long balls on one hand!

  191. colin on June 21, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    summer football great where are the pitches coming from. i am sure the cricket clubs will give them up. indoor soccer great who will pay for the cost of the indoor halls? as far as non competative football goes i thought the england football team have been playing that for years.

  192. carol on June 21, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    We have heard so much about these changes being for the betterment of the International Game.
    Improving standards, technical ability & ball skills.
    But the number of players who will attain the standard for either International or Pro Club Level are the minority.
    The majority of Grassroots Football is about providing children of all abilities with the opportunity to participate in football.
    Without pressure ,to have fun, make friends & enjoy themselves.
    With volunteers giving of of their time to run teams.
    Who also give their time to improve their knowledge & skills by attaining Coaching Qualifications despite the current economic climate.

    The idea of raising standards and having volunteers that have qualifications is good.

    Children should be able to enjoy football without the pressure to perform is an excellent ideal.

    Volunteers get involved in grassroots football because they are committed to those ideals.

    We all know there are a minority of Managers / Coaches who are over competitive.
    That will never change.

    Parents who are ultra competive who see their offspring as the next ” David Beckam”
    Who can’t understand why there child should take his share of being substituted to allow a less talented child playing time.

    How many managers have seen parents, remove their child from a Club / Team because they have not seen eye to eye with Club policy or managers view on how a team should be run.
    Managers who refuse to play a child week in week out just because he is a strong player.
    But is more concerned about being fair to all the players.
    And believe it or not has the welfaire of the ” Better player” at heart as well when making decisions.
    A volunteer looks to develop all aspects of a players game.
    Including attitude.

    Sport be it football, cricket or tiddlewinks will be naturally competive.

    What you need to change is peoples attitudes & expectations.

    Winning and loosing is part of the life process.
    Its how you conduct yourself when you win and when you loose that counts.
    Children are learning ” Life Lessons”

    Sadly, when making the transition into the real world be that a work environment or whatever.
    The values & attitudes that have been installed into you.

    i.e. Enthusiam, Team Work, Learn to win and loose with Grace.

    As a Club Secretary, Coach , my ideals have always been to treat players equally, to try & improve players technical ability.
    Instill confidence , self belief, team work.

    I fail to see how these changes will have direct implications for the national teams at any level.
    Until such time as our whole approach to Coaching the elite players.
    Players of the future is radically overhauled.
    That is what the FA should be looking at.

    Why do Academies take children so young only to be spat oput when a better batch of players comes along.
    Where are the players of flair, natural ability.
    As we have seen with the latest U21 Squad where was the flair & creative ability.
    Sadly lacking.
    Sadly, it seems that those exciting qualities are being knocked out of our future players.

    As a Coach I can see the advantages of smaller pitches, smaller squads.

    I am not convinced that going non competive at U11 is the answer.

    If all children have to look forward too is no competitive football for 5 Years

    Its about keeping things in perspective.
    & Changing Attitudes, Education.

    We here of concerns about the drop out rate of younger players.
    I am equally concerned that if the proposals come into force.
    We will see players leaving to join other sports, which are competitive.

    Then you come to the actual problems of finding the facilities to implement these changes.
    Local Councils pitch providers already struggle to provide facilities.
    With council budgets being cut.
    I fail to see how all these additional pitches / facilities will suddenly become available.

    Will schools be subject to these proposals or will they be exempt.
    Schools again are a lareg provider of facilities.

    Then you look at the cost of Indoor Facilities & 3G Astro Turf for the winter months.

    Already parents are finding fees prohibitive in the current economic climate.
    Clubs are scratching around to find Sponsors to help with running costs for the purchase of kit, pitch fees & general running costs.

    Children are giving up football for economic reasons despite Clubs trying to help & assist.

    The financing for all these changes is potentially worrying.
    Unless the FA have an unlimited ” Pot Of Gold” to through at Grassroots Football.

    I just hope that all these recommendatiosn / Proposals won’t result in long suffering volunteers leaving the game altogether.

    Football can ill afford to loose the knowledge & experience of volunteers who have given years of service to Grassroots Football.

    I see Grassroots football going the way of elite players only.
    Whose parents can afford the fees.
    But little Jimmy with 2 left feet won’t get the opportunity to play.

    Before you say it, I have over 20 years experience as a volunteer.
    Who bought into the Charter Standard ideal, long before it became fashionable to do so.
    Our ethos has always been football is to be enjoyed.
    For that reason the majority of our teams are all low division teams.
    With players who may never have had the chance otherwise of getting into a team.

  193. Kevin on June 22, 2011 at 7:55 am

    Yes to small sided.
    Yes to retaining school year, imagine the season of transition to birth year (kids play footie with school mates) if we don’t!
    Yes split a senior pitch into 2 x 9v9 pitches, spreads goal mouth and centre circle wear, increases opportunity for kids to be encouraged to play pass n use width.
    I do like the idea of removing the goaly until about 9 years of age, I run out of counting fingers on the number of mini games when a keeper gets upset… Or a parent n manager laugh out loud if a keeper drops one!!!!
    Use small target goals at low level to encourage a low pass into the goal.
    Reduce the amount of players on a mini soccer squad to ‘team’ plus 50% instead of 100% this will encourage more teams to start up rather than players drop away, naturally a smaller squad will develope like a small class at school.
    What about futsal? Can we reduce the ball size for u6/7 and increase the weight so ball is passed to feet more often…
    This is only the beginning, come on England, it’s our game! Be proactive for the kids!
    We invented it, let’s change it to suit us!!
    Let’s lead the way, not follow the others!!!
    Remove the ‘play up a year allowance’ it’s poor and immediately elevates expectations on a kid and those around her/ him.

    Local Councils work harder to get pitches sorted all over the country!!
    I would agree with a 4 week break in January!

    That’s all for now, I’ve gotta get on with my day Job!
    After all not everyone gets paid to participate in football, 96% take part for the enjoyment and friendships!!!!!

  194. Tim on July 13, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Everyone jumps on the non competitive bandwagon but without thinking what it actually means, just because match results aren’t recorded for a league table, it doesn’t stop the individual games having winners and losers and being played competitively.

    My 9yr old sons try’s to win his games but if they lose it’s no big deal and soon forgotten. He has no interest in his team’s league position, that’s for the benefit of the coaches/parents etc.

    In my opinion this has been one of the problems with junior football, at this level it is played for fun and for kids of all abilities. If the coach is trying to win the league then only the best players get selected and the biased parent refereeing decisions ruin the games.

    It’s good that we’re trying to teach kids to play football correctly, the smaller sided games are excellent for this and I for one am pleased it’s been extended to the older age groups.

    Until professional academies start signing kids on skill and technique over physique, England will always struggle. The majority of the current U21 generation were selected on their physique hence the poor showing.

    I believe it will be another 10-15yrs before England will have a team to be proud of because they’ve only just started recruiting players based on skill in the last couple of seasons.

  195. ANNON on July 26, 2011 at 2:41 am

    Surely the whole point of grass roots coaches is for them to teach as many young children how to learn & enjoy the game of football? The more players we teach properly and manage to keep happy all the way up to 14-15 years old surely the more chance we will have of having a greater amount of top quality footballers?

    I would appreciate if everyone reads my feelings below – I think this is something to learn from. I am sure I am not the only one who is disgusted in the way some of our grass roots coaches treat children.

    My eldest son enjoys playing football but has always been one of possibly thousands of young children throughout the country who was usually an un-used substitute in competitive matches and was mainly just played in the friendly matches unless, of course, there was nothing to play for at the end of the season, then him and others might get a chance.

    When we first joined the club the coach gave it all the usual, ‘it’s about the enjoyment and not the winning’, which was soon forgotten about once it was clear that the team could have a chance of winning the league.

    Before we eventually changed clubs, he must have only played in 3 or 4 competitive matches in his last two seasons. I politely & discreetly asked, many times, why my son and others were not being played and not being given an equal opportunity to play, only to be told by the coach that he had a good crop of talented players, and how could he possibly drop talented players for others without the same skill level? I was even told once on the phone that my son was not good enough! All I wanted was for my son and the other less used players to come on from time to time and have a chance – Is this not too much to ask?

    I would like to make it clear that I never made my opinions heard from the side lines about any of this; I totally disagree with parents who do that. It was always in private or at parents meetings that I made my points to the coach.

    The other problem was that the friendly matches, which were always played straight after the league or cup match, were never really taken that seriously, and there was never the same amount of organisation or interest from the coaches. And many times it was seen more of an opportunity for the coach to try out the first team players in different positions, sometimes even in place of other players who had not yet played!

    In one match my son was the only player not to be played, and yet the coach decided to take two players off and put them on again in different positions before he eventually brought my son on in the second half of the friendly game. When I questioned him about this afterwards I was told that his grandson had not had much to do in goal so he thought it was only fair to bring him off and bring him on again in an outfield position instead.

    I was very close to sending in an official complaint in to the FA about the club, but thought better of it, thinking that this could have affected my son when moving to secondary school with the same players and felt he could have been picked on. I’m sure there are a multitude of unhappy children & parents all over the country in the same situation. I found that other parents actually agreed with me, but when it came to it, they were not willing to upset the apple cart, and support me even though some of their children were in the same boat.

    I also think there is a belief in parents that if they complain themselves of agree with others, that this will affect their own child’s chances. How sad is that, but true!

    I spoke to someone at the local FA who was urging me to send a complaint in about this, as this was totally against the way the FA want grass roots football run.

    My son has always suffered with low esteem and lacked confidence. But being one of the children that was always last to be picked does not do anything to help this.
    Although I always felt the actual training was good, it’s such a shame that children of different levels of skill get less chance than others. It’s not just naturally talented children who make it as good footballers, and children learn at different levels. My son is one of the younger children in his year (being born in Aug) and so this can also have a bearing on development levels. The other sad thing is because of this other children and friends have labelled him now as a bad footballer, which is very upsetting. He has also lost out on two years of competitive football and so is always going to be behind some of his friends. Which is so frustrating?

    My son and some of his friends from the same team spent a while attending a local FA Skills after school course once a week. And it was so obvious to me that the brilliant coaches here got so much more out of him and he was a completely different player than when he played for his team at the weekend. He wasn’t far off the same level as some of the better players there. We were all very disappointed when the FA skills had to pull out of our area due to funding problems. Both my boys loved it, and the coaches were absolutely fantastic. Maybe the FA could look to extending this across the country more, making it available to more children and more areas.

    Unfortunately my other younger son has just had to change teams due to a similar situation. However when questioning his new coach this weekend and asking if all the children would play – he mentioned that he would probably choose his best 6 players for the first match and the rest would play in the second match. Here we go again?

    I feel there are far too many junior coaches in the game that put winning over development – and the funny thing is that these same coaches that think that competition is a very important part in the development of young children are the same ones who choose the best players week in week out, and want to sign up as many of the best players in the area to replace the less talented players and therefore end up winning games by 6, 7 or more goals – How is that competitive!? There was one game which my elder sons team won about 8-0 and only 1 or 2 subs were made, when there was 5 or 6 disappointed subs.

    My elder son has now moved to another team and the coach is much better, all players get a chance and I really don’t mind when my son doesn’t play in a game as this usually means that other players are getting a chance. We actually came second in the league and all players and parents were kept happy, so it can be done!

    I agree with 9v9 at U-11 level, but this should be brought in now, why wait? I understand that this might be difficult to implement though due to the marking out of these different sized pitches.

    Although I acknowledge that children do have a natural winning mentality and thrive on competition – I also agree with just having friendly matches until the age of around 10 or 11 – In the end of the day children will still want to win each match, so the competitiveness will always be there, but I think leagues put too much pressure on players and coaches and this also forced coaches to play their best players as they have important games to win in order to keep them top of the league. I think there is far too much pressure to win games from some coaches and some parents. I also like some of the ideas of Futsal especially stopping defenders from being tackled so they can actually learn to play and pass the ball rather than being told to ‘get rid’ all of the time. Surely this will teach children more skill and give them more time on the ball which will help the game in the long run.

    I also think we desperately need change the football season calendar or have a 6-8 week break over the Dec-Jan period. The amount of time my son has been on the sideline freezing cold only to come on and not be able to run or play properly because he is so cold and wet. The conditions and state of the pitches these kids have to play on, because of bad weather, is disgusting and can only put children off. The state of the pitches in icy, wet or muddy conditions can’t help the quality of the football either. Look at warmer countries like Spain, Brazil, Mexico, and Italy just to mention a few. They are all naturally more gifted and the weather must have something to do with it.

    Come on FA sort this out sooner rather than later.

    annon

  196. Scott Upton on July 30, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    Our national football team fails because we don’t produce enough top quality players – the very same players that would rise to the top irrelevant of what format football they played when they were younger!

    9v9 or 11v11 and competitive or non-competitive football aren’t the issues here… the Dutch play competitive football at 5 years old, with league tables published to ensure children/teams only play against children/teams of the same ability as it’s the one-sided games that benefit no one!

    The FA should be looking at themselves and their poor selection process if they want to know why our national teams are underachieving instead of trying to make a child embaressed about winning a game of football because non-competitive sport leads only to non-competitive participants!

    Capello was given a lucrative new contract before he demonstrated what a poor manager he was in the SA World Cup, and Pearce was offered a contract extension after he lead our U21 team to yet another disasterous tournament, managing only to score 1 goal, and all we read afterwards was Brooking blaming it on the lack of managers of under 10’s football teams!

    If fools like Brooking and Levett are allowed to continue in their roles at the FA I predict an even bleaker furture for this nations football because quite simply they DON’T know what they’re doing!

  197. ian on August 7, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    I coach both mini-soccer and 11-a-side. Introducing 9v9 is pointless and is more about being seen to do something than actually benefiting the players.

    I have heard the argument about boys getting more touches on the ball, but it it is the opposite. Smaller sided games are easier for one more gifted player to dominate. At 11-a-side the kids have to pass because they simply cannot do everything in the way that they can in smaller sided games.

    Also it seems that no consideration is being given to the ability for clubs to provide suitable facilities for 9v9. My local club just doesn’t have the space to change or create more pitches.

    Another point is around the transition of players and having the right number available. It might be ok for larger clubs with several teams to shuffle players to get the right number in each squad, but it is already difficult going from 7’s to 11’s, this just makes it worse.

    My last point, why not ask the players if it is competitive? My boys treat every game the same and have done so since about age 5. They are playing to win. Simple.

  198. Tony Osborne on August 9, 2011 at 11:35 am

    I have been involved in Junior Football for over 30 years now as manager, coach and now as a committee member of a league in Sheffield.

    I can fully understand the move to different sized teams at various age groups as I feel a move from 7v7 to a full 11v11 can be a bit daunting and confusing for some young lads and the moves for a 5v5 then 7v7, 9v9 before reaching 11v11 is a good idea.

    What I cannot get my head around and find totally indefensible is the thought of no league tables at younger age groups. WHY ? You are a winner because you fought hard, worked hard and gave your best.If you do this but get no more than the team you have just beaten what have you gained ? What is the point in winning if you cannot be declared a winner ?

    This is just yet another pie in the sky, ill thought out idea by someone in the FA who has probably never played the game, never been a winner and thinks that the best way to improve skill, team spirit and technique is to award the winners with nothing and the losers with more.

    Its about time our FA got their head out of their own backsides, went around the country and actually spoke with people at grass roots level, found out what they want, would like to see implemented and actually do some good for a change.

  199. Matt on August 10, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    If i’m honest I think smaller sided games are a good idea. I’d much rather see my son’s team play three to four 4v4 or 5v5 games against a different team on a Sunday, than one game of 7v7. Smaller pitch and less players equals more touches. More touches equals more practice, more practice equals better technique (you get my drift). As the kids get older you increase the team size until they’re 13 or 14 years old, when they are physically big enough to cope with 11 a-side.

    I think another issue affecting youth football is the way professional team academy’s do not allow kids to play for their local Sunday team or their school team. So if a promising young talent is signed to a pro team he might only play 5-10 games a season where he could be playing up to 30. How are they supposed to put all of this academy level training to practice if they aren’t playing any games?

  200. martin on August 24, 2011 at 12:31 am

    Acadamies need to be closely looked at.

    My sons have both been scouted by most of the local clubs in our area we’ve been on several trials and thankfully both now settled. However the first trial almost finished my oldest’s interest in football all together!
    There is a culture amongs parents to tell academy kids not to pass to any trialists as they will take there place in the acadamy I’ve seen this on three trials…is this a fair trial?
    Also ability is second to how well the parents get along with the coaches/manager to the extent of parents bribing coaches with gifts and total ass kissing to make sure they’re children don’t get dropped.
    The first time my eldest went to a well known championship club for trials and I wish I never let him go.
    The first week I noticed that no one was passing to him and just put it down to him being new, until i over heard two fathers telling there sons not to pass to trialists.
    I told my son to make the runs and shout for the ball and make it hard for them not to pass, he did and excelled his technical ability and pace easily put him in the top five of the squad, he frequently beat and scored past his “acadamy” team mates. Not bad considering they trained twice a week by professionals and would not pass to him.
    However I should have known there was no chance of getting picked when i read the questionare that asked:
    “how tall are the parents of the child ” I found this offenssive is this not discrimination???
    there is no wonder we don’t get players like Messi is there?
    I was also told that they didn’t want any one unless they were better than there best player because they didn’t want to let any one go as they’re all friends.
    So in effect you could be better than 10 players but not get a place due to not being in the click.
    I asked how he needed to improve and why they hadn’t picked him they said he wasn’t BIG enough .
    The emphasis in this club was size lots of player had almost no ball skills at all but as long as your 8″ taller than average your in regardless of ability.
    My second sons trial came after he was picked out of 70 development players for another big club. This time the coach let slip he didn’t want any players but had to trial them due to terms of club funding, he frequently turned up late, screamed and shouted at his own players when any trialist beat them in any aspect and would shout “your letting trialists beat you”, as they were HIS players. As soon as the bad weather came, he used this as an excuse to cancel my sons six weeks trial, two and half weeks in with no summing up or feedback. My son was stunned as he was sure he was easily performing above the average of the team. This particular coach was reported by the parents of the next trialist due to his poor attitude and blatant disregard for trialists.
    The problem is there’s a lot of quality players never going to be seen or developed even they are better than the players at academies. The FA needs to bring them in line and make sure its ability and skill that matter.
    I’d just like to offer a bit of advice for all parents who’s children have a trial, don’t get your hopes up, don’t let the children get there hopes up, just tell them to enjoy themselves and take pride in the fact they have been trialed and not to worry if they don’t get picked, because its all to do with if your face fits and has little to do with ability.
    What i have found is that the best thing that develops players is friendly none competitive games football camps are great for this, theres no pressure no one shouting not to dribble when to pass or shoot .kids quickly learn what works threw trial and error, shouting at players causes fear and players become so concerned with not making a mistake it causes hesitancy leading to mistakes that are then met with more criticism only adding to the situation. however taking the competitiveness and league table out of the game would take some of the fun out of the game. what would be best is to try mix it up with friendly and league games and let the kids try to skill players, try audacious shots, fancy back heels, step overs, in friendlys and training with no pressure and not beat the flair out of our future players by playing to win at all costs.

    I’ve just come back from Spain and was amazed when i walked past a small infants
    school at play time, there must have been ten small five a side nets in the play
    ground and every kid had a football. no wonder they can play. i wonder if the fa
    could work more closely with our schools these kids were 4 to 6 and could have
    run rings around most of our 7 to 8 year olds.

  201. kevin dixon on August 31, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    hi my son plays and is signed now for an league 1 club at under 9 s the training is fantastic and the coaches make it fun they train on ball work and passing game but i sometimes cant understand why clubs change players position my son was scouted as a right midfield and was training at a premiership club but cos of traveling we chose local club as soon as changed club they moved him in defence his head is down and lost that hunger to go he is 8 i never put pressure on him cos of the effect it could have on his confidence what should i do! any one had this problem !

  202. AMANDA SMITH on August 31, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    I AM APPAULED AT THE FA’S RESPONSE TO CHILDREN BEING ABUSED FROM SIDELINES BY PARENTS. JUST BECAUSE THE REFEREE DOES NOT REPORT IT DOES NOT MEAN IT ISN’T HAPPENING. THE FA NEED TO CONSIDER ALL INPUT WHEN MAKING DECISIONS IN SUCH MATTERS. IN THE INSTANCE I AM REFERRING TO A CHILD HAS BEEN GIVEN A 28 DAY SUSPENSION FOR RESPONDING TO STRONG VERBAL SIDELINE ABUSE. THE FA DID NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT STATEMENTS FROM SPECTATORS AND ONLY CONSIDERED THE REFEREE’S REPORT. THE OFFENDING PARENTS WERE NOT CONSIDERED AND RECEIVED NO PUNISHMENT FOR THEIR ACTIONS. GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER THIS IS BASIC SAFEGUARDING!!!!!

  203. Barbara on September 1, 2011 at 10:50 pm

    At 8 years of age football should be enjoyed. If your son’s not enjoying his game move him to somewhere else. At this age kids are encouraged to try different positions on the field and many ambitious coaches will encourage them to play in postions that they feel they play at their best and not where the child wants to play. However ive seen many a child ignore coaching advice and not fulfill their potential. To me a happy kid is more important that a happy coach!!!!!!

  204. Peter Renkin on September 7, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    Anybody know if offside rule applies to new 9 a side games

  205. laura on September 9, 2011 at 8:26 am

    My cousin plays in à under 9 team which she enjoy but now the manger is letting 6 and 7 year old in the team ive always thought that u have to be 8 years old and over to play football in a team

  206. laura on September 9, 2011 at 8:33 am

    My cousin plays in à under 9 team which she enjoy but now the manger is letting 6 and 7 year old in the team ive always thought that u have to be 8 years old and over to play football in a team is this aloud am sure it ant if it is am sure it cant be Right and how well their 6 and 7 year old cope

  207. leanne on September 9, 2011 at 11:23 pm

    hi there my son is 8 on the 13th of september 2011 he wants to play football for an under 9`s team is this allowed or will he have to be put in an under 8`s team please can you get back to me thanks for your time
    Mrs Renhard

  208. Club Website on September 12, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    Hi Leanne

    To be sure, probably best to contact your local County FA. You will be able to find this via the FA website (thefa.com).

    The CW Team

  209. Tony Woan on September 14, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    I have been a youth manager for 21 years and I also work in a school
    9 v 9 is a good idea
    as for January to december age groups it will not make any difference there will always be a 12 month age gap between the oldest and the youngest in the team and in the school I work in the school team only play 2 or three games a year.
    It is time the FA realise that it is not the youth teams that stop our players but the big clubs signing up children for their clubs at 8 0r 9
    then casting them out at 10 or 11 most of these children stop playing

  210. Steve Murray on September 16, 2011 at 10:54 pm

    The three main changes that will affect grassroots:

    1. 9v9. I wouldn’t have a problem with this particularly, but finding pitches is going to be difficult. You could always make it front of the penalty area to front of the penalty area but that causes arguments when a foul is committed and the ref has to decide if it is in the box or not without any kind of line. It will be OK for clubs that lease their own grounds but those reliant on school pitches and parks pitchs will struggle. Verdict – negative effect on grassroots.

    2. Jan – Dec registration year. There are two negative implications to this. For one thing kids won’t be able to play with some classmates. For another, it makes it more difficult to stop cheating. Leagues local to me used to have August – July registration years. This meant that August born kids would play in the age group below their school year group. This meant that, even if you knew they were in the year above in school, that wasn’t proof that they were overage. This effect will be exacerbated by the Jan – Dec year.

    3. Non competitive matches. A local league used to have the u9 age group as a non-competitive primer age group to get everyone ready for the routines of the u10s when competitiv football would start. Of course everyone just worked out their own league tables with winners and runners up amongst themselves.

    These three changes will be massively disruptive and I strongly doubt that they will improve the England national team. The days when boys could come through the ranks from jumpers for goalposts to Wembley are long gone. The professional clubs snap up anyone who shows the tiniest bit of talent at an early age and this elite is kept from mixing with the average players.

    Not one single soul that I speak to in Youth Football believes either that these changes would benefit grassroots football or will lead to more skilful players playing for England.

    There is slightly less antipathy towards the 9v9 change but, as I say, pitches will be the problem there.

  211. david on September 19, 2011 at 10:49 am

    I was coaching teams for the last 6 years and at one point was awarded grass root coach of the south east region. This was mainly because I believe in football for all, multi possisions, and I never not used a sub if they showed up.

    I am all for small sided games in training and on Sundays.
    The main problem in this country is that there are to many small football clubs with just one maybe two teams in each age group. Some of the teams have great coaches others are just an imbarsement to the system.
    Start making bigger clubs with one or two paid trainers that coach the whole club in the same way. Maybe something the local academies can profite good coaches. Have 5~10 teams in each age group so you can put kids of there own ability together and progress them faster.
    Parents can take the team to the games , but please make sure they get the right training first. When you teach the kids to play proper football from day one and all work under the same umbrella as a club together with other clubs in the area you will see better football at the end. Stop trying to make your own team the best by playing win at all cost. Or let other clubs poach your best players out of the teams.
    We have one team in the U13’s in this area that pouches players every year from other teams. They have won everything under the sun, but by taking the better players have weakend the teams around them. So now other teams here are trying to do the same just to compead. Leagues should stop this from happening.

    When in doubt kick it out!!!!! NOOOOOOO
    Play football use you keeper work around the back rather than smashing the ball out of play. If we don’t greate confident players than you will see them hoove the ball up or out whichever they feel like. Work with players to get them two footed make them believe in themselves give them the freedom to learn the game rather then telling them what to do everytime they get the ball. They will learn lots more from their mistakes rather than by us making their decisions for them. Let them try to play the ball out of trouble even if they make a mistake they will understand the game better the next time.

    This is the easiest part now we have to try to stop the parents on the sidelines screaming and shouting nonesence to players and referees. We as adults need to behave ourselves and lead by example.

    I am sure that if there where better english players around they would all fit in the PL game rather than the foreign players. If you think they take our places how come no English players play in any other league in the world. To be honest with you I believe they are just not good enough. So to change this you will need to change the way they are tought.

  212. Steve on September 24, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    9v9? yes definitely at U11 and 12’s combined with appropriate goal and ball sizes so the introduction to adult 11v11 is gradual as is the childs growth, development and knowledge.
    Publishing of league tables at primary age is not needed as the FA research suggests, it is only parents who constantly scour the results and league positions, the kids do not bother, they would rather go and play out with their mates after the game. We won a summer tournament at U9 and were about to be presented with the trophies, the kids were all on the swings and roundabouts in the nearby park, they were happy upon receiving the cup but it was not their priority.

    Regards summer football, it needs to coincide with school holidays, no point having matches when half the team are on holiday. The season needs to extend until the end of June instead of the beginning of May, this will enable a winter break as it is no FUN for the kids when it is freezing and wet, the academies have a break so why not the grassroots leagues. On the subject of the academies they need to follow the same format the FA are suggesting for grassroots, no point bringing in 9v9 when the academies go to 11v11 at U11’s, need to all sing off the same hym sheet.
    It is also nonsense stopping the more gifted kids playing with their mates teams during the most precious time of their young lives, ‘just in case they make it’ what if they don’t??
    Check out the Bolton, Bury and District Football League, one step ahead of the FA and most of the proposals are already in place, and no I am not on the committee, but just trying to coach young kids to play football the right way.

  213. Rob on September 26, 2011 at 9:59 am

    As a youth coach and manager of an under 9’s team, I have to say I’m disappointed with the FA. The problem I have is with the age range changes, I have a younger son who has just started school, his 2 best friends are born in the Nov and Dec of the previous year and he is one of the youngest (Aug). He will (once ok to play) now not have to chance to play in the same team as his friends and infact will have to watch as they start and he has another year to wait……madness from the FA how can excluding children and maybe even stopping them from playing be for the good of the game. As a point of interest, my side is largely made up of children from the younger end and we are top of our section and our best player makes our age group by 1 day….how can him getting good coaching earlier be to his detriment?
    I would comment fully on results/tables….but fear this is a lost cause. But my children love the fact there is a league table and that they can see match reports on the club website….everybody knows the results anyway, so why not make it fun. Maybe England will be an awful national team in the future, where nobody cares about results, children need competition.

  214. w thompson on September 27, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    changing the dates to favour jan feb kids is crazy.my son wants to play with his class mates,hes born end of dec.If this came into effect
    we would be off to rugby

  215. wes on September 28, 2011 at 9:49 am

    ive been coaching mini football for last 3 years,mainly under 9.My first point is that england are a top 5 side in the world side so we must be doing something right.I have noticed that individual skill is frowned upon by many coaches and parents.Passing like spain is excellent but if thats all the players can do how do you get the next messi or ronaldo.It frustrates me when all i hear before the player has even received the ball is pass,pass.If a future messi wants to run down the wing then cross the ball lets encourage him not lecture him on being too greedy.Regards to the age changes it will make no difference.Older boys will still have a slight advantage.There will still be 12mths between oldest and youngest and it will stop kids playing with their mates from school

  216. WIll McSorland on September 30, 2011 at 12:38 am

    “For those parents and coaches worried that this might break up existing teams, don’t worry. If the proposals are accepted, the FA will introduce the calendar year system in 2013 for the new under 7s age group only, before phasing the system in gradually for each under 7s age group that follow”

    If you believe that something needs to change then change it for all and not just phase it in for those starting off. The benefit’s of your changes won’t been seen for at least 10 years if you only phase it in for the new starters.

    I understand that a phased approach will keep many existing clubs happy, although who’s interest’s are we more concerned with – upsetting a few coaches/clubs or developing players to the best of the ability for the future. I think what’s best for the kids development should come first and hence any new changes should be implemented at all ages. Great leaders do things for the right principles, even if it means upsetting a few people along the way.

  217. Josh Melling on October 1, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    I am currently studying P.E and youth sport at Sheffield Hallam and I am starting my dissertation this year on this very topic, looking into the differences between our system in England and that of Spain’s which is proving to be very successful.

    We MUST revert to smaller sided games for younger children to work on basic ball skills and technique, playing on smaller pitches. If we don’t we will continue to see the long ball over the top for the quickest child to run on to and score 25 goals a season at Under 10’s, only to be left behind at age 15 when technically better players will get the upper hand.

  218. Steve Alderman on October 3, 2011 at 11:59 pm

    I have coached for 7 YRS now.

    Re Non competitive football is proposed at U11. I do not agree at all. Boys of this age need to start competitive games. The are naturally competitive anyway at this age why try to stop that?

    Re 9 v 9 I like the idea but have questions. Are we talking two games of 9 aside or one? if one game what about squad size. at 7 aside your squad would normally be around 16 to 18 players max, then you move into 9 v 9 if one game you cant have 16 to 18 players as you have too many. if two game you will need more players than 16 – 18. then you go to 11 aside you have a massive squad far too many to keep happy. how can this be managed? also blue lines on pitches does this mean clubs have to buy another line marker and smaller goals? 9 v 9 is a good idea but it seems a little unworkable/practical to me.
    re changing from school year to end of year. Sorry this is pointless. your just going to confuse everything. this is just to bring us inline with Europe. a child’s life in this country is geared to school years i just cant see how you can change this?

  219. Robert Ireland on October 4, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    Ok, the changes are probably a step in the right direction.
    In my opinion, they will have a negligible overall effect.
    If you want to change grass roots football, it’s probably better to get directly involved at an early stage.
    Get the small goals and footballs into primary school playground, get FA school and club liaison coaches.
    Offer advice coaching and resources directly, in the way you want, at the earliest possible stage. Help the poor Dads that run club football and the poor primary school teachers that start our kids off at school. They’ll love you for it, and it will make a difference.

  220. Kelvin Arterton on October 8, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    These proposals are very positive and as both a trainee level 2 coach and father of a 7 year old boy I welcome the changes.

    However I must agree with the comment below. If we truly want to make the system child focussed, implement the age group changes across the board including pre existing youth players. If this means that current teams have to be split, then so be it. The children involved will get over it in a few short weeks and it may just give the youngest players the boost and opportunity they need to shine.

  221. graeme campbell on October 8, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    agree with every comment, lets focus on the kids and change something cause to be honest we are not a force in world football. only concern is moving to birth year rather than school year, the kids will grow up with school friends but not play games with them. not sure what that would achieve.

  222. antony galligan on October 9, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    i applaud the fa for there thinking,many pro clubs are pulling kids out of football at grass roots aged 789 and its crazy,my son has been with 3 premiership clubs,and left Blackburn Rovers aged 15 because of being left as a subsitute for 4 months,kids need to be playing weekly at this age they do not think about turning pro there thoughts are on playing the game they love,and so they should be,he said dad i would rather play every week for mossley than once a month with mcr utd or any other pro team,i believe myself to be a good fair quality coach,but the constant battle to hold onto good young players is a huge problem.,i kid u not i have seen a uefa coach teaching 7 year olds 1 touch passing,how can that possibly benefit a boys development.the pro clubs do do an excellent job with youngsters but i believe up untill the age of 12,a player should not be contracted to any pro club and be allowed to participate in games at a junior club with his freinds,i think aged 10+ talented players should be able to sign a pre contract agreement to a pro club,pro clubs should hold open days for grassroot coaches to educate the coaches into letting kids have fun whilst learning,all kids should be taught very early the importance of fair honest play,and the ethics of team work and unselfishness,the playing emphasis should be placed on freedom to express and technical ability,i do not believe abandoning leagues is a good thing,competition is a healthy thing and so is developing a winning mentality,its not something we should be ashamed of,it should be embraced,however more should be done to ensure leagues are competetive to the standard of junior team,making sure there are no 14-0 results etc,on the acadamey side ,the whole system needs re examining we still have a mentality of win at all cost in some setups,and this leads to teams picking players on height alone which is a complete nonsense and in all honesty it would be frowned upon in south america or the continent,i know of lots of players on scholarships with pro clubs,that quiete honestly have very little ability and will struggle to make an impact at semi pro level,these places are very rare and should be given to players whom have a very rare talent just the cream of the crop,i feel at aged 14+ coaches should have pro playing experience of atleast 5 years or more which would enable them to pass on invaluable info to the scholars.I know of 1 boy who was at a big northwest club 3 times but they couldnt make decision and each time he went they messed him about,the boy is currently with marseille after a 2 week sucessfull trial,surely its wrong when an english boy (french mother)aged 17 has to move to france to develop his career,i asked his uncle why and he said the boy was deemed to small for a right back but wasnt tried out in his real position of attacking midfield where the french club played him and signed him straightaway,in all honesty it would be unfair to start criticising pro clubs who do a great job on the whole of developing young talent,but even they must understand that first and foremost kids need to be kids and dangeling carrots at an early age can ultimatly put a player off playing or in my case a dec ent guy trying to coach off coaching. ps to the dad above dont worry about your son being played out of position all kids need to rotate in order to make them a more all rounded player and develop possible weaknesses.

  223. debbie smith on October 10, 2011 at 9:48 am

    My son is 17 years old and since the age of 6 has played competitive sport.
    Although not football ,I believe the positive outcomes are transferable:
    He has seen his ans his team’s progress and hard work acknowledged and rewarded .
    He has a pride in his achievements which have given him self confidence in other areas of his life.
    He has had the oppotunity to compete for his region and country because he has developed the necessary skills to be part of a team ,and reached his full potential and as a consequence has travelled to world.
    If young people are not encouraged to compete ,how as a nation are we going to take forward sport in our country and compete on an international stage-I can’t see future Olympic Games,World Cups and World Championships becoming non competitive so please lets work together to prepare future champions !!

  224. IH on October 11, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    In my opinion the No1 improvement for junior football is SUMMER FOOTBALL.
    I coach my son’s U10’s team and far the past 2 seasons we have played 2 games from October to March in each of those seasons and that was because they were played on 3G! It’s no wonder the southern European players are more technically gifted than our players when they have the nice warm weather and good pitches to play on.
    Even now we are coaching our lads to hoof it upfield and scrap for it in the mud in the opponents half of the pitch, and I hate it. It’s not the way to play but when your pitch is ankle deep in mud, it’s the only way.
    I totally agree with the FA recommendation regards to 7, 9 then 11 a side, the more touches a player gets during a game the better; it can only enhance the players’ enjoyment and development.
    Extending the non-competitive age bracket makes little sense to me, kids are competitive, FACT! Results and League table need to be maintained so that equally matched teams compete against each other and so would cut down on the 20-0 results we sometimes see. What we try to do with our team is to accept victory and defeat with equal measures, we don’t gloat when we win and don’t feel too disappointed when we lose. We let defeat spur us on and be our driver for improvement.
    Restructuring the age categories is just MINDLESS! That facet of junior football is not broken, so don’t try to fix it. What will happen is that in a few years time the best players will be the ones born January to March, what then? Change the age groups again? There needs to be a line in the sand where one age group ends and another one begins, so why not leave it the same as the school age groups? Makes sense to me, that kids get to play with their class mates in school teams. Not all kids are members of clubs and some rely on school teams to play, and so if they were forced to play with kids who were in the school year above would put them off and so might not even get involved in the game in the first place.

  225. antony bowlyen on October 12, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    the introduction of 5v5 is an excellent idea,and i would extend it to under 10 age group,although i am not sure that 9v9 will serve any purpose.Like wise abandonding league structures and competetive games that are played in a freindly sporting manner will serve no purpose,i personally do not feel that grassroots football is to blame for the detiorioration of our international side,since the introduction of fa charter standard it has to be said that on the whole junior football and players and parents behaviour has improved no en d,sure we must ensure that the sargeant major type coaches and bullying dads who like to intimidate 8 year olds because theyve had a bad week at work,understand that there is no place in modern football for them anymore and all clubs should have a code of conduct in place to ensure these types can be removed asap.But if we truelly are to progress as a footballing nation we must ensure that are game does not go the same way as our tennis has,the demise in our national team lies purely and simply with the failure of our acadamey systems,i totally agree with other comments that state that our academys rely on physique and height rather than a players technical ability,and it takes talent to see talent,furthermore our academy,s are failing english players by not really taking player development serious untill boys reach youth level.In recent years there is a tendancy to play safe and bring players through that mums and dads have good steady jobs live in the suburbs and are fairly affluent,i have seen this time and time again ,with players of outstanding ability from poorer backgrounds being overlooked for boys who are not a patch on them but parents get on better with coaches etc,here lies the answer to all our problems at national level,the scouting networks are excellent the grassroots junior set ups are becoming excellent,the fa,s comunication with grass roots is suberb,and the proffesional clubs coaching selection policies are flawed amatuer and killing our game off,at an alarming rate,ignore it at your peril and watch our national game go the same way as our tennis,full of middle class players who often lack the tough working class background that creates a champion,and gives that extra edge of competitiveness.

  226. paul grren on October 13, 2011 at 10:34 am

    Iv been involved in junior football now for about 7 years and i think this will kill it. Cos if this go’s ahead well will have to look for more pitches more ref’s and it’s more work for the manager to do (for free) and the kids and parents need to have there say in this.

  227. Natalie green on October 13, 2011 at 10:35 am

    I personly think what the fa are trying to do is wrong. I am a mother of two sons who currently play football one in the u14s leauge who this wouldnt affect and one in the u10s leaugue who this would affect. I can honestly say my sons love playing football my younger son especially loves the competative side of it he loves the thought of working towards something at the end of the season and theres no bigger smile when they see their name in the grassroots page on a saturday because they have scored in a game the weekend before. I also think this would kill the game as u would need to spend more time finding refs and pitches etc and this is gonna put managers under more strain and lets not forget this is a job they do for free! I just think they need to rethink this as alot of amvitious driven kids who love the competative side of football are gonna be devastasted.

  228. g larini on October 15, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    Totally disagree with non compitive football until under 11s. My boys love to look at the tables and reading the local paper to see the results and see if they have a mention in the paper. The biggest problem of changing teams from 6or 7 a side then 9 a side then 11 a side will be keeping the players together, i feel that you will end up with less teams playing because you need 16 players for 6 a side squad then you need around 22 players for 2 squads or go down to 12 players for 1 team then when you go to 11 a side you will need 14 players . Therefore you will keep trying to add or lose players every 2 seasons.

  229. Alan Greenwood on October 18, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    Here we go again, I have in the past made comment about the FA proposals for u14s down to play small sided games and noncompetitive.The FA should look as a first instance at Scudamore untouchables in the Premiership and wanting to create the next Beckham, grass roots is what it says on the tin the Academies / S of Excellence are the ones who take players from grassroots teams at great rate of knots without in some cases with no contact to the team manager of parents to try and find the next Beckham etc, the youth team is left to pick up the pieces and replace the players have left the Club Team. Grassroots football is about enjoyment played in a friendly environment without to much pressure to prove how good the player is, headphones on and listen to the views of the FA and we will all be daleks.
    It is no good saying that the FA will listen to views from grassroots, in November 2009 the LFA had a youth league meeting attended by Nick Levitt who at the meeting confirmed that in the 2013 14 season the format for football will be small sided and noncompetitive the resounding view in Lancashire was NO, I am aware from several youth leagues / Clubs that if the proposals are mandatory then there could be an exodus of long serving Committees and non paid volunteers who view the suggestions as a step to far no doubt we will wait with baited breath to see what happens.

  230. philip on October 20, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    i do beleave in 9 x 9 foot ball after seeing my old team struggle on a 11 a side pitch with the big goals , but leave the mini football league alone as you will , allow private intrest to come in for more boys who will have to pay lots of money to play in the private ,section , more boys will leave the game as there is no league , coaches that give up there time for free will go , the clubs might even with draw there teams from the league , and try to make there own league , come fa wake up do not , go down that rd its what you want not what we want

  231. anthony fairhurst on October 21, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    I think the changes will make football much better, but I would have liked the FA to have gone further before kids play 11 a side. Why not keep 7 a side and 20 minutes until end of junior school with no offsides and then 9 a side and 30 mins until the last year of secondary school when the kids are physically strong enough. This would ensure the kids have more touches and the smaller goals would improve shooting and keepers ability instead of kids not reaching and when they can, chipping the small keeper. Do we really need 11 a side until they leave school?

  232. Mick L on October 22, 2011 at 8:33 am

    Having only been coaching for a couple of years I may, or perhaps should bow to the experience of some of the contributers to this link? But the when I read some of the comments I think differently.
    There have been a number of articles in the press recently jumping on this bandwagon of Political Correctness etc when it comes to non competitive football. Few if any people seem to put forward a contrary argument. So here goes…
    How many times do we have to hear about our national teams are under performing, and in the same breath talk about how wonderful Barca are and how that transfers to the national team. Why can’t we be like that? Is the question? The answer is outlined below on many of the points raised by others.
    Kids want to win….. No they don’t, they want to play. Parents and in some cases coaches are the ones obsessing about winning. It is this obsession that is creating huge pressure on children and stopping their development, stifling their creativity and most importantly taking away their enjoyment!
    The win at all costs culture we have is the very reason we win sod all, we focus on winning and dismiss the tools we need to get there!
    Let them play.

  233. B on October 24, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    My son is currently at Manchester City’s academy. He is an under 10. The focus is now very much geared towards small sided games during training and also the development of skills and technical ability. The proposes made by the FA cos not come soon enough. The sooner we can get the emphasis on the kids having fun and enjoying the game without the pressure of winning, the sooner we can develop them into world class players, competing with the likes of Spain and Holland. My son enjoys his football very much and has a ball at his feet every day, whenever he can. I would like to see him play on the smaller pitches playing 9v9 until u13 level rather than having to play on a full 11 a side pitch at u12’s. I think that giving them that extra year to hone their skills and focus on 1v1 situations and technical ability before they step up to a larger pitch will be of great benefit to him and his team mates. I welcome the FA proposals and look forward to them coming into play in the near future. However, another key aspect of coaching players is the actual time constraints that are placed upon professional clubs. There needs to be more contact time with children for them to train and enable them to get to the standard of players in countries like Spain. I hope the changes brought in shall give our kids the best possible chance to play football professionally when they grow up.

  234. Manager in Rotherham on October 27, 2011 at 10:49 am

    I am sorry to see the decision by the leagues in respect of academies. We are messing around with grass root football, which be fair is where kids just want to play football with their friends, enjoy the game and for the coaches it is about teaching fairplay, respect and life skills.

    The academies are where the ‘next’ talent should be developed. However yet again the FA have been swayed by the fat cats in premier league football. Southampton got money for Walcott and Chambers and lets be fair without that money would Southampton be here. Bennett at Derby being linked to clubs in the top 4 of Prem league. Will they get the same money answer is no. Without this money clubs in championship and below will have to make the money strecth further. This will ultimately affect the academies and will limit the number of players being developed by the clubs.

    Why are we making grassroot football more difficult with the changes of age groups which will stop friends within schools playing with each from the same year, sizes of pitches when there is alreaddy limited spaces where costs are forever going up. Academies in the local area will be affected adversley by this decision passed in respect of reducing the funds clubs can get when their player is ‘poached’.

    FA talk about changing the format of football, too much too soon could really damage football. I am all for change, bring in the small sided games but allow the grass root football clubs who are non-profit organisations the chance of applying for additional funds or supplement the cost of pitches with local councils. Take some of the TV funding given to these rich clubs and provide this for grass root football.

    FA talk about there being less people playing football, it is not the format it is the way they are running things that affect everything

  235. Gary Fitton on October 28, 2011 at 10:29 am

    Do the FA know how ridiculus the age groupings section sounds. They complain septemebr – December births dominate and plan to change it by making a different set dominate ie the Jan – March births. They are changing something for ZERO result. I agree with 9v9, but removing the 9,10,11s leagues makes no sense and I don’t know any kids who want there removal.

  236. Venita on October 28, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    I really hope these changes go through. I have just about had enough of watching Under 8, 9 and 10 year olds launching a football 50 miles up a pitch and chasing after it. We need to focus on passing the ball on the ground, controlling the ball, 1v1 and using skills. Smaller pitch sizes would encourage this. Also agree with non-competitive football for the young ones – learn from Xavi – it was not about winning in the beginning it was all about education. Train the youngsters to have total control of the ball and awareness on the pitch -the winning will follow!

  237. Lynn Kavanagh on October 28, 2011 at 10:35 pm

    What a refreshing idea to put children 1st!. having been the parent of a child who at 12yr spent the majority of the season on the @bench’ because of win at all cost attitude., i am glad that she sat it out as she is passionate about football like she has been since 4 yrs old, this season what a difference new coach with similiar ideas as new proposals, she is thriving and getting better. I am involved in hockey and my understanding is that they to do not have leagues for the Badgers (juniors ) and when matches are arranged if 1 team is short of players they balance the team, I have yet to see any problems as like you have said kids just want to play and have fun. I really hope you are sucessful in your proposals.

  238. Dudley on October 31, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    When I first read this all these months ago I thought fantastic we are really going to help the kids. LOL I should have guessed really months later and still nothing has happened and probably never will whilst more and more of our kids are convinced by coaches they are not good enough and give the game up.
    FA please issue a statement to show where we currently are or as usual have you just run away from the premier league.

  239. Colin Godridge coach on November 1, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    Discussed with fellow coach. We agree with 9v9, which could be extended to higher age groups, but strongly disagree with 5v5 at younger ages. More frustrated boys (and girls) on sidelines waiting for their turn, and more frustrated parents waiting for their lad to get on.
    Non competitive idea is silly, as it is a competitive sport. We have already had a taste of this with the intoduction of non-competitve leagues up to U8s, and seen the frustration this brings. Football is also about some real life skills not just finding the next Messi. What next, not keep score in matches? The lads do play for other reasons but still like and need to compete. They look forward to reading the paper and looking at the league tables. It also helps keep parents interested and without them nothing happens. What about the kids who are already skilled and highly competitive, who is looking after their needs if we take away this edge to the matches. Some of them run their blood to water, is it fair to them to ‘pretend’ its not an important part of the game.
    In none of this discussion have I seen mention of what we do in training. Here all boys are treated equally. Lots of fun goes into short snappy drills where their is tons of ball contact to develope technical skills and fitness. Intense but fun training and competitive matches should go hand in hand so the children get the best of both worlds. Winning and losing are life skills that need to be taught so the kids can handle bigger issues as they grow up. Where better than with their mates on the field in a controlled, friendly, fun but competitive environment.
    Agree with the problems of Winter leagues. We already play both Winter and Summer. Bring into the equation the inevitable clash with the local cricket season. (same kids doing both sports).

  240. Tom Carrington on November 2, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    “In England you teach your kids to win. In Portugal and Spain they teach their kids how to play football”
    Jose Mourinho

    Enough said really… Lets all be completely honest, 90-95% of coaches in this country teach their kids to win first!
    Its so important on their ego’s. I am a coach and have coached for over 20 years, I love coaching youth football, but despair at some of the so called ‘coaches’ that I come up against.
    Parents are no better – and coaches and club officials let them get away with it!
    Not at our club – ANY negative comments from anyone are addressed immidiately!
    Guess what – we dont get any! Cos they know I will tell the parent or whoever to leave or I will just stop the game, give the other team the points/cup win and take the lads training.
    We are passing on what we think we are good at to the next generations, we all think we are right and we do our best.
    But sometimes we have to be honest with ourselves too. I video as many games as I can and I show them to the kids when I can as a training aid. But I have in the past shown them to parents when they have been out of order.
    Let the kids play, let them enjoy the game. Sod the scores, it really doesnt matter. I can remember only 1 score from last season, the only reason I remember that game so well cos it was the one game where EVERYTHING clicked and the team work and team play was amazing! That is more important than scores.

  241. Carlo Roberts on November 4, 2011 at 7:14 am

    I say scrap leagues tables for under 12’s. Maybe a lost opportunity to teach Maths but our national game would win out. Kids know football is competitiove, they want to win. Anything therefore that throws them off the scent of an obsession for winning might help. Coaches could do match stats, collected by subs, after match; passes complted etc. We all want to win so take away some of he presssure and always attemp to set up structures that spread the motivators for the team to play well.

    Would it even be possibl for over 12year old matches to produce a handicapp system on the basis of results from last season league results. You would end up with a league that reflected effort and team ability perhaps. Would this help to motivate all teams and keep players playing at club level?

  242. Justin Helliwell on November 7, 2011 at 8:02 am

    I pray these changes go through-and I don’t even believe in God! I’ve coached Football and hockey at U8 to U14 for around 15 years now and have campaigned for short sided games on small pitches for both sports up to U15.

    A lot is said about changing our ways but even after haring the same grat talk before the last two years Victory Shield England games when the(closed shop too I might add)games start all yo see are leggy midfielders with poor first touch and brawn over technique-it’s all talk so these changes would be amazing.

    I’m all for encouraging my kids to play rather than merely to win but, and I think a lot of idealists lose some of the best kids because they go a little too far from caring about results as some kids NEED to feel they’re competing or it’s not interesting so, to me, the mark of the best youth couches is striking that mix which satisfies the kids desire to compete and their need to improve their skillsets.

    My U10 side played the local “win at all costs side” on Saturday and, seriously, though we lost the game we still managed to compete with a side who averaged six inches a kid larger than our lot! They were all big lads this team were reading for next season when we usually fo full size pitch-big lads with a big boot and that’s now they beat us-long ball into the box every time and winning the ball there. What are they learning?

    To be fair their parents admitted our boys were more talented but then asked how we kept them happy id they didn’t win EVERY week?!! Tis makes me worry that should the short sided game be a wider spread thing that we’d also see the one local team that has to win sucking up all the best talent and ruining local leagues anyway. Even if a league table isn’t competitive some still keep score and those coaches who need to win won’t just change so how do we protect teams who want to bring their lads on AND keep leagues level enough so every team can be tested every week to push our lads skills?

    So, yeah, love the ideas and hope they go through but I’d want more and also not want to lose some of the most talented kids who will lose all interest if there’s NO competition-even if it meant we have, say, a few truly competitive tournaments nationwide and locally which are properly competitive alongside the bulk of a league more about development. Balance for me and allowing dribblers to dribble too.

    I also think it’s hard, myself, for a scout to judge a youngster for an academy outside of a competitive game as well as watching him train. That determination, will to master has to be there alongside the talent, skill and technique for me and how do we spot that it purely developmental games?

    Whatever, all the FA talk has been merely that so far and I’m elated it’s starting to show some mettle! Great stuff. What, ever, was the point of a 10/11 year old keeper in eleven a side goals anyway?

    Bring it all in and do it now.

  243. Tim on November 10, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    Good ideas for grassroots football with the emphasis being on more touches on the ball from the small sided games.

    Will it have any effect on England’s next generation?

    I don’t know, too many of the current crop of English pro’s have made the grade due to their physique and not their technique.

    How many small, agile technical players have been discarded for the good big ‘un? Will this ever change?

    I can’t see many lower league clubs trying to play football the Spanish way.

  244. A concerned parent on November 13, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    The changes planned appear positive but do little to address the main reason why children stop playing football, adults.

    My son had played football with a smile on his face since the age of five, through a love of the game and a ball constantly at his feet he progressed to DC level for his local professional team. It was here the problems started.

    Behind the scenes of the first class coaching the ever present predatory Sunday boys coach lurks.

    As most of the boys in his group played for the same couple of teams it was recommended he move to ensure progression, it was his choice and he moved.

    On the surface the club presented as a professional child focused team, happy boys learning and enjoying football. Little did I know that my son was the next in a long line of humiliated, demoralised children who had been forced out of the team as the next best thing came along. The once smiling salesman of a coach transformed into a brutal, self serving dangerous man whom the the parents had little or no process of approaching.

    Over the season this man was responsible for children turning into nervous wrecks, dreading playing for fear of a mistake and sitting sobbing on the subs bench for weeks on end without getting a game. All the boys at the club were at DC level or above yet they were repeatedly told they were not good enough. The steady stream of new players from the DC clicked through. One in, one forced to a humiliating life on the bench until they stopped coming. Many of the boys who left have since stopped playing football all together.

    Against my sons wishes I spoke to the coach about his behaviour, the hatred other teams have of the club, how we simply pinch other teams best players, put them in the clubs shirt and somehow that makes us a team. He said he would take on board my comments.

    It is now three weeks since my son has played for the team. He now sits on the bench, humiliated. Sunday afternoons are spent sobbing in his room, his goal and footballs in the garden untouched. My son is 11 years old and wants to stop playing football.

    Can nothing be done to rid football of these smug, dangerous men? How many children that could have gone on to higher levels in our game need to be forced out at the whim of such FA approved scum bags.

    The local boys league do little to discourage such behaviour, in fact most are more then aware and see it as the norm.

    All these children have been humiliated by a FA approved, charter standard club. Thank you.

  245. neal ditton on November 14, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    everyon can say wat they like but really parent coaches just wana win but lie and say “its about the boys” when they dont win. its these sort of morons that the game need to remove, they talk about “my team plays good football and we do skill training” but really theyy just boot it long to win. teaches them nothing in the long run, doesnt keep youth players in the game but as long as their fat ego is massaged and they feel thay can look down there nose and give their child more game time than every1 else they dont care and jus carry on ruining the game with there big idiot mouths at the side of the pitch and their wobbly bellies trying to live a failed dream. we need the fa the kick these people out the game. thank you

  246. Nick Broad on November 14, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    We’re part of an newly formed under 9 team and it’s sad to see how parents and coaches have become intoxicated by the league. The current hot topic is whether our relatively poor goal difference might cost us the league come April.
    The big lie is that friendlies are non-competitive. Since when has a game between 9 years been anything other than competitive.
    Scrap leagues and better leadership from county FAs.

  247. Heather Vidamour on November 15, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    I recently complained about racist English/Welsh comments made by my sons coach after his son hacked my disapled sons leg during a football game (under 11) as I had the balls to write to the leauge my son has now been asked to leave the team is this right??? that my son should pay when I was sticking up for his younger brother??

  248. Mike B on November 21, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    Just read Andy Smiths comments.
    Totally Disagree. I run a U9 team and all of the kids would choose to play as striker. We do rotate our team however look through the eyes of a 8 year old keeper when that is the position he prefers but not having a defense gets upsetting when you concede 5 goals or more (kids do count).
    Young players who constantly dribble and do not pass have damaged the confidence of other kids The whole team should be involved and passing must be encouraged. Over dribbling is a problem which normally parents are the root of. Wanting their own kids to take the glory no matter what cost to the team

  249. Tim on November 21, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    I have a question for the FA, Our local league has opted to play 9 a-side football for this seasons U11’s which I commend them for. Our local junior team has even purchased a set of the correct size goals and marked out the pitch to the reduced size.

    I was wondering if anyone, at the start of the season, from the local league of FA checks that the size of the pitch is suitable for the small sided games. We’ve just played a 9 a-side away game on a ¾ size 11 a-side pitch so it was extremely tiring for our team who like dribbling the ball and suited the long ball strategy the FA’s trying to move away from.

  250. Amanda on November 22, 2011 at 2:19 am

    Having two boys now playing in the bournemouth youth league at under 7’s and under 9’s i have been pretty disgusted by the way clubs are run!

    The major problem is these bigger clubs who apparently have never been beaten actually cheating and doing anything they can to win!

    Even in friendlies and at the age of 7! There is no respect for the fact that the kids are still learning and when they don’t thrash you on the first half they will definitely come out with every dirty tactic in the book in the second which usually means terrorise the goal keeper!

    The last match i went to i had my son punched in the face, kicked in the face, he even had kids going behind him whilst doing a goal kick, and running at him from about a meter away also whilst doing a goal kick!

    These sort of clubs are disgrasfull and to teach kids such disgusting tactics at such a young age just shows how the leagues run!

    These clubs are also mainly the ones that there players get scouted from so it also shows that hey play dirty and you get somwhere even though the other kids show much more class and style on the pitch!

    I have had two son’s who have been amazing goal keepers just not wanting to do it anymore because of this!

    There is far too much over coaching from both managers and parents i think this also needs to stop kids learn from the game and also need to make mistakes but winning is the most important thing to most people!

    These kids just want to have a game of football and some fun! These larger clubs make it difficult and often get away with so much bullying it’s disgracefull to be honest if there such good players then why do they need to cheat?

    Goal keepers in these leagues get the worst treatment and barley any training! And are not nurtured at all! The thing is the whole system stinks!

    The refs cheat aswell i have seen so much in the two years and have been amazed at the disgusting behaviour!

    Most talented kids will quit as they don’t want to be part of it! I defenutley think respect is great but have i seen it anywhere on the pitch or around no!

    There needs to be more referee’s trained and impartial ones the ones i am seeing are about 12 at matches?

    There also needs to be parent reps so they have there say as to often parents are tied with a bad brush! We do take alot of time out for our kids to play and just want them to enjoy it and learn from it! But when you see your kids being degraded and bullied then it is hard to actually keep your cool!

    Especially when it seems like the normal thing in football! There needs to be a lot changing if kids are going to start enjoying the game!

    I personally walk away sometimes absolutely fuming mad! And ready to explode by some of the bully boy tactics that happen! There should def be two leagues one for the amateur kids and one for the teams who think there better than everyone and winning at all costs including bullying a 7 year old goal keeper is the thing to do to win!

    Welfare officers never are around and do nothing at all the don’t even answer your emails etc? A parents commitee between clubs and age groups would be much more effective as the points of the children would be heard and the clubs could work together on nurturing talent and respecting there need to learn!

    As for competion to say it’s not competitive is rubbish even in friendlies with these teams they are still highly competitive! I have seen kids two years older playing also! The thing that people are missing is yes it’s great to have competion but in the first few years they are learning and that should always be priority!

    Stricter rules on players ages and conduct from managers need to be with held! As at the moment it’s a joke! The keepers are the worst to be hit by this and it is the only way alot of these teams win is by homing in on there inexperience, i think managers should be able to stop a game if they think bullying of the keeper is happening and parents should also be aloud to stop a game if they thinks so and an investigation should be held!

    I also think that parents should have a representative at all matches and should be heard! There is way to much of the parents being the bad guys when in fact most of us just want our kids to have a game and come off happy which is not happening very much!

    I think alot of these dads are living there dreams through there son’s and forget the buzz of getting together with there mates and just enjoying that feeling of being a team!

    Personally i am on a mission to change things but will it happen? I am not sure! Things are so bad at a younger level that i honestly can’t see things ever changing!

    7 aside is fine at a young age but definite rules as to a fair match needs to be sorted out! And fair leagues!

    As for the referees most of them cheat for there own side! Give away throw ins, blow the whistle when your team scores to go back to a foul which has happened already three times in two matches in my son’s under 7s!

    If there was a parent rep at each match i honestly think alot of this would be cut out! As there is no one there to deal with these issues! My son last week was actually crying on the pitch as he felt so bullied and now doesn’t want to play in goal!

    I personally will take things further if this continues with my kids! I am fed up with all the talk of change when i see things getting worse and tactics getting more disturbing by the year!

    As for competitive football of course that’s a good thing but nurturing talent is and should be foremost for everyone involved! There should also be somewhere where parents can voice themselves that do not involve the clubs as it can back fire on you badly!

    I have had my say now but if things don’t improve then it is no wonder foreign talent is always going to be needed! And that actually doesn’t help anyone! I myself train my kids myself as i have been a champion in many sports! But i always emphasizes it’s a team game and to play fair! My eldest son is very talented in goal but now has quit! And my youngest feels the same which is such a shame but he is also a very good player!

    It’s about time these bigger clubs were brought down to earth and made to play fair! Or just played each other and let the smaller clubs have fun and enjoy there game!

    My eldest went from letting 10 goals in to none by the end of the season in 24 matches and yet now he is not interested because of the tactics they use!

    And also managers shouting at the players is really not on! I think that one a year get them on the pitch as a condition to them being a manger and let the kids shout at them!

    Don’t get me wrong healthy encouragement is great but shouting at there every move is just stupid!

    THIS IS NOT THE WORLD CUP IT’S KIDS PLAYING FOOTBAL! GET OVER IT!

    I spend 4 days a week with 2 different teams and can really say that it needs to be appreciated!

    Just go to any of the bigger teams in Bourenmouth and watch them play and you will see that there tactics are disgraceful boring and underhand! Especially if they aren’t thrashing you in the first half!

    Most of them are apparently scouts for Bourenmouth or have been profesionals so don’t understand why they even want to bother with such a small league it’s like they have something to prove!

    Anyway the F.A needs to do something and fast before all the talent is just wasted and washed away or even long term effects on kids is badly damaged!

    Main points STOP SCOUTING THE BIGGER TEAMS!

    let the smaller teams have a chance! then the ripple effect will speak for itself!

  251. Tom on November 22, 2011 at 4:52 am

    I am an Eighteen year old male who has recently come out of the youth category after competing in a local league since four years of age (first competetive games began around 9). I am now in to my second year of coaching carrying through an U8’s team in to U9’s.
    Firstly, my opinion is the competitive side to football should be included throughout the age groups. I believe this as there is no such thing as a ‘non competitive’ game of football! I completely agree that football at the younger ages is completely about fun, however wether the score is recorded or not, the kids still know if they have won or lost, they still talk about scoring or whatever at school the following day, taking the competitive side from the game is just hiding the reality and wasting time of learning valuable life skills such as winning and loosing. I also strongly believe that non competitive football will reduce the level of fun within the sport, speaking from experience and the views from my U9’s, there is little better than seeing your name in the paper or seeing yourself of the top scorers list on your league website! Setting goals or dreams such as winning the league or cup promotes teamwork and determination, teaching the children to work as a team to be rewarded.
    Secondly, I disagree with the inclusion of 5 a side games due to the complete lack of posisitioning associated with the game. I believe 7 a side to be adequate to the children’s needs at this age group as well as including more players per game (surely 7 kids playing is more fun than 5 and 2 sat on the bench?!). If parents or supporters dislike the use of the long ball (myself strongly included) then maybe the coach or tactics are to blame, not the format! I have played football throughout this age group and have never been told to launch the ball forward and I would not tell that to my team either.
    However, I believe that a 9 vs 9 format should be adopted between the ages of 10 – 12 as players of this age are physically too small to play on a full size pitch with full sized goals. These players should be playing on a pitch sized between a 7 a side pitch and a youth team pitch to encourage passing and dribbling as opposed to the long ball.
    I also believe the overall format of football in this country is completely backwards. A country so determined to succeed and so focused on youth development, yet the chikdren play on cut up pitch?! Surely the children should play on a Saturday prior to the men’s teams playing Sunday and ruining the pitches, not the other way around!
    As well as this, I also disagree with changing the birthday requirements needed to play at certain ages. Speaking from an August 31st birthday, there are no players younger than me within my age group. Being technically good throughout my youth days, however hindered by my size, (now standing at 6ft 3) I was generally very small compared to some of the other players. However I fail to see the point in changing the requirements, there will still be someone who is the youngest no matter what?!? However, I do believe to compensate for this, there should be no professional teams until the age of 13/14 to ensure that all players have developed physically. Being a huge fan of technical ability over sheer size and strength I believe this will act positively on footballing talent. I would suggest however these ‘pro’ clubs provide training sessions to highly talent youngsters to further excel their ability. This could then follow the Dutch route of youth team football in the sense that after the adequate age (13/14 in my opinion) the talented players play and train with the pro club, however also train with their local clubs. Come the age of 16 when contracts or scholarships come in to play, the pro club then buys the player from the local club, therefore funding local clubs, increasing money for equipment, kits, paid coaching staff… Ultimately improving future players.
    On the other hand however, our national youth teams seem to fare reasonably well in world wide competitions, yet when it comes to the first team we do not! Perhaps this has less to do with youth development and more to do with other factors such as the coaching staff, manager, board and expectations and obviously the media influence.
    Ultimately I believe some changes are needed to the current format of youth football, however removing the competitive edge will only reduce our passion, bite and determination. Some of the greatest qualities our country holds within sports professionals.

  252. Will Richardson on November 25, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    Until children are 13 they should exclusively focus on skills learning to control the ball.

    Even from that age, older and precocious lads will have a physical advantage over younger pre-pubescent ones, especially if referees aren’t instructed and backed up to warn players to play the ball in a positive instead of violent “play” (disable or injure?) the player way.

    In rugby the tackling player is responsible for the safety of the tackled player.

  253. Hugh Curle on November 28, 2011 at 11:27 pm

    Whilst I am in favour of focus on the technical aspect of youth development and always placed greater importance when coaching from U10 to U18, one problem I can forseee is squad size. Currently most mini soccer teams comprising A and B teams have about 18 to 20 in their squads, for one 9 a side team squad sizes of 13/14 would be more manageable but once they move to 11 a side squad sizes need to be increased again to 16/17. This will be difficult for teams to manage

  254. Daniel Speller on December 1, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    9 a side has got to be the way forward in terms of not only the children’s enjoyment of the game but also their development as footballers. Coaches including myself work hard to develop the children’s skills in mini soccer and this would continue with 9 a side. Having watched my older son step up to 11 a side, I can tell you that he and may of his mates found the step up very difficult and he told me on several occasions that he didn’t like 11 a side. The pitch was just too big for them!

  255. Chris Ruff on December 4, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    There seems little point in having small sided games and increasing these when the pitches for them do not exist in sufficient numbers to allow all lower age group games to be played on them now.

  256. tony woan on December 5, 2011 at 11:05 pm

    I do believe that 9 v 9 is a good idea
    changing the age groups what is the point at the moment a play born in september is 12 months older than his team mate born in August under the new rules a player born in January is still 12 months older than his team mate born in December and as for schools keeping the same age system as now balancing things up I work in a primary school children do not play for the school team till they are in yr6 and then if they are lucky they get about 4 games a year and that is if they get a good cup run.
    Playing indoors who is going to pay for that and where are the facilities in coventry we are being Charged £45 per quarter of a pitch indoors and summer football what about the players who play other sports like cricket

  257. tony woan on December 5, 2011 at 11:16 pm

    I have been in Junior football for over 20 years and there is nosuch thing as non competetive football
    Not having league tables means nothing we have just had a result in our league of a team beating another 21 v 0 so much for non competative football.
    Managers will always go out there to win and parents will always move the children out of teams that do not win and there is nothing that will ever stop that. If truth be known all managers in under 8s league know roughly where they are in the league they will always start their best players because if they dont the will move to another club. In my own experience the worst coaches I have ever come across are the ones with a badge all they are on about is winning and will do so at any cost
    the better ones tend to be the dad who runs a team they think of the players first.
    I bet If you checked out most team coaches in the lower leaguesof any league you will find that most of them are jusat dads out to give their team some games win or lose

  258. Bill Tyson on December 7, 2011 at 7:30 am

    Why are we considering DEPRIVING next seasons under 11′s from this fantastic opportunity. The move to 9v9 for the under 11 & 12 years is long, long overdue. Why are we waiting for politics to run their course.

    I say to hell with the optional season, will somebody in the higher echelons of the F.A. get some backbone please and sieze the bull by the horns. We NEED to get on with this??

    My age group are under 11 next season, I want their football development to be the best it can be and I want them to be playing 9v9. It HAS to be the way forward.

    We NEED the decision to be made NOW!! Leagues and Clubs need maximum opportunity to sort out how they’re going to arrange this and most importantly, how they’re going to afford the goals.

  259. John on December 8, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    My proposal, up to under 9s, say.

    Take all the boys and girls from the different teams to the park, leave a bag of 50 footballs in the middle, let them play while you go to the pub or do the shopping.

  260. Adam Hall on December 9, 2011 at 11:51 am

    I’m in favour of reducing the size of games and removing league tables until the table is relevant.

    I’d also like to see in the introduction of roll-on, roll-off substitutes at younger levels. This means that more players are likely to get more game time. I’ve also found this useful for allowing the kids to play and learn different positions as it’s hard to change their position while they’re still on the pitch.

    Also, the cost of even the most basic coaching course is much too expensive. If reduced, a dad helping out could easily attend the course and would be more willing to do so, thus improving the coaching level.

  261. Wayne on December 13, 2011 at 12:37 am

    I agree John, i run an under 10’s team & i will not stand by waiting for the FA to do something. I will be contacting all managers i can to arrange our own 9v9 league formats. It should be happening right here right now otherwise these kids will miss this opportunity & that is not fair & certainly shows no “respect” for the kids, parents, coaches and managers.
    COME ON FA GET YOUR FINGER OUT

  262. secretary-u11 team on December 13, 2011 at 10:28 pm

    Having read a few comments & the proposals I would like to point out a few difficulties that the proposals will not address. Firstly trained refs are very reluctant to ref mini-soccer games due to some negative behaviour by a small proportion of parents, they don’t get paid much if at all for the game. Thats why most games can turn into biased games because parents often do it. For example we played one game where the ref asked the opposing goalie if the ball went over the line. at the end of the match we found out the ref was the goalies dad. Another ‘ref’ extended the game 10 mins to give his team enough time to score, another regualrly coaches his players whilst he is the ref.
    Unless the FA make it a formal requirement for refs as part of their training to ref mini-soccer & provide unbiased officials to mini-soccer then the problem of cheating will not go away. Parents & coaches will naturally veer towards their own team. The refs I managed to get were fair & the home games were more expolsive as certain teams couldn’t cheat,one kids was sent off for swearing at the ref several times. His manager threatened to report the ref, kids follow their adults examples.
    With the problem of coaches abusing their postion of responsibility, it seriously needs addressing. Kids self esteem can be easily damaged, not everyone is a Beckham but kids deserve the chance to play regardless. I have been the secretary for years & my son the goalie since the team founded. new manager & all of a sudden he isn’t good enough. He has always been there for training games even attending extra goalie training outside of the club. If the kids lose it’s their fault if they win, it’s his so called expertise that got the result.
    Grassroots is mainly run by voulnteers, most voulnteers are unpaid, never thanked, often taken for granted & abused. Most coaches/parents who shouldn’t be involved in football are there to live their dreams through these kids & it’s not fair. The new proposals will not stop this, there should be a structed support system so the FA can put a stop to this type of behaviour which is usually the cause of kids being upset & consequently leaving the game as my son is about to do.
    We are part of a larger club who has structures in place, however the kids can still get treated appallingly if they don’t make the grade of their coach. But I would like to say I do think it is up to the individual teams, I expect my parents to lead by example. All parents support all the kids, there is only support for each others kids. I have had the kids, parents agree to a code of conduct, throughout mini-soccer we had fantastic parental support. We have always had MOTM medals for every game, we tried to focus on a postive however hard at times it was. When our kids lost they were upset but it wasn’t the end of the world.
    I would like to see the FA take responsibility for a structered system, voulnteers being registered so if their behaviour is constantly inappropriate they can be taken off the list & not able to help. We have to be CRB checked anyway. Therefore parents would feel it isn’tneccessarly someone’s power trip that decides their childrens fate. With a proper complaints & procedure system in place, it would help erradicate the real reasons kids leave football.
    9v9 is vital, my son’s team are all struggling to make the transition, he is expected to keep a clean sheet with an adult goal. His defence often let him down, because they don’t know how to keep their positions but all that happens is a blame game. By the time it is mandatory it will be too late for my son’s age group. Who is one of the youngest, changing the dates will not make any difference. The cut off has to be somewhere, the kids understand it’s in line with school years.
    My son loved football & it’s with a heavy heart he is giving it up, he has been playing for 4 years & most of the time he has loved it.
    I hate the idea of football being non-competitve, it’s ok for the early years but it is a competitive game & by 8yrs the kids do compare teams, stats etc.
    7v7 is fine for the younger teams & shouldn’t be changed. It is the way the competition is handled that matters. If the Fa put a solid support system in place for grassroots, it would help foster healthly competetion by not letting the adults involved getting carried away. If those who did were at risk of not being able to participate, they would think twice. At the min no-one takes any action when kids are treated badly. Positive people involved can change things for the kids.

  263. Daniel Hart on December 15, 2011 at 11:29 pm

    I think the proposals are positive and long overdue. For those of that live in the countryside rather than towns or cities I can see some issues. I run an U8’s team and we have approximately a 50/50 mix of U8’s and U7’s players in our team. Currently 2 school years are allowed to play together, will this still apply with the new proposals, will my younger age group still be allowed to move up to the next stage? If not those of us in the countryside will not be able to get enough children together to form a team? I believe we need to have flexibility to get as many children involved as possible, if this element is too rigid village sides will not be able to form teams and many will be lost to football altogether. Maybe County FA’s could be given the flexibility dependant upon where they are situated, i.e. County FA’s in say London have a one year age group but those of us in say Suffolk/Norfolk etc have a 2 year age group?

  264. adam on December 21, 2011 at 7:37 pm

    a small and important step in the right direction, I regulary play mini tournaments with neighbouring primary schools, 4v4 or 5v5 plus the 7 v 7 for 10-11 year olds. they dont care if its a freindly or a league match they just want to play and thats what they do. I dont tell them what to do and when to do it, i let the children make the decisions on the field, they all rotate areas of play and they all get subbed and get equal time on the pitch. thats how it should be. we dont win many games but they always ask me when the next match is! focus on the positives and let them enjoy.

  265. Carl Page on December 22, 2011 at 8:59 pm

    I endorse Daniels comment about the two age years playing together. Teams in rural areas rely on two years playing together in order to have a squad large enough for A and B teams at 7v7, which is even more important with the additional numbers required to have two teams at 9v9. Otherwise the result will be the break up of a squad when 9v9 is introduced leaving the younger players with no team to play in. Squad numbers in itself is also an issue but otherwise I support the theory behind introducing 9v9.

  266. Alan Greenwood on December 24, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    Can some one at the FA confirm why the 7s 9s & 11s have different age constraints place on them?
    A player joining an under 10s team in season 2010 11 age 9 and his date of birth is after the 31st August he fails to allowed to play in under 11s, the Club do not have an under 10s Team so the player has no team to play for in the 2011 12 season at under 11s.
    Mandatory imposition will see in my opinion see an exodus of players and coaches, the FA have to recognise the youth leagues and clubs cater for players who do not meet the criteria of being excellent players to join the Academies or S of Excellence and that is were some of the problems stem from.
    Whilst I accept to a certain degree change does need to be looked at to assist players to develop but playing all the various age groups pitch sizes and squad numbers and in the words of those at the FA players get more touches of the ball it still does not make for better players and as such they should be left to develop accordingly.
    Football is for enjoyment for those players who will never make the grade and play professional football all a knee jerk reaction to the state of the national game.
    Wait with baited breath for the implementation over the coming seasons.

  267. John Gontier on January 1, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    The Future Game comes through Spain – http://www.premiershiptalk.com/index.php?s=portuense

  268. Caroline on January 7, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    Please can someone confirm how the proposals will effect my son born Sept 06? He would originally have joined the under 7’s in Sept 13, these proposals now say that Sept 13’s Un7’s will be made from children born in 2007. Does this mean he should now play with the Un7s in Sept 12 (So that will be Yr2’s plus Sept, Oct, Nov & Dec born Yr1’s?)

  269. Pete on January 10, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    Having watched the lunacy that is presented as a fun sport for the last six years here are my suggestions to improve the game.

    1. Scrap all leagues for children under fourteen.

    2. Limit friendly games to no more than one a month.

    3. Play five / six large scale tournaments in the summer.

    4. Players must live within two kilometers of the clubs home ground.

    The lack of basic skill in kid’s teams is frightening but understandable once you realise that the skilful players are quickly replaced by …..

    Larger players.
    Faster players.
    Dirtier players.
    The coach’s son.

    If Lionel Messi had been born in the UK he’d never have kicked a ball once he’d passed the age of twelve.

  270. steve hartry on January 13, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    Having read the proposals i agree with 90% of what the FA are trying to achive.I have only been coaching football for the last couple of years and next season i take over as manager of the u9 squad of Ashton boys in Bristol.My way of thinking is that i agree 100% with the introduction of 9v9 football & this should have been done a long time ago in fact this idea was championed a long time ago by GUOFB who did a lot of research on youth football by talking to the kids.I am not sure about doing away with league formats from as kids dont really understand the differance a football match after all is the same to them no matter how you play it.My feeling is that its the parents & coaches who need to be managed to understand that it is about kids playing & having fun this is one thing that has not been touched on.I have just finished doing my youth award course which i belive all managers & coaches should attended rather then the prehistoric level one course which i feel is a waste of time in youth football.Lets educate the people that are involved in youth football before we implement sweeping changes that will change the game forever in this country.After all we will continue to see both coaches & parents who place to much presure on kids weather they play in a league or just friendly matches.I have long thought how when parents bring new kids to training we say yes no problem join in let see how they get on.I wonder how many managers & coaches take the time to sit down with players & parents to educate them about what we are trying to achive & how not to put pressure on there children.If we truly want to change youth football & bring this in line with the national game then lets keep the leagues but do away with teams being relegated & lets make sure that we place the right teams together.I have a team that should go into league football next season but i have not had an offical from the league come & talk to us or watch my team to see what level we are at & if we as coaches are following the correct pathway.If this was done & the leagues were more involved then they would be able to allow teams that are doing the right thing by the children to enter the leagues & those that have a win at all costs attitude would be found out & not allowed to join. Football all over the world is played in league format & is an intrensic part of our national game.lets place the kids in the right divison based on there level we can do away with relegation & make each division smaller to reduce the eight month leagues we already have.I have read about ideas to play small summer leagues but how will this work when most familys are away on there summer holidays.I have spoken to kids who say they just wont to play football & they dont care if they win or lose , if we as coaches buy into there ethos then we will truly understand that at the end of the day it is all about the kids.

  271. Jude on January 18, 2012 at 10:27 pm

    Agree with most here accept age related element! Leave it in academic groups it will help with participation. My 7 year old plays because his mates do, he enjoys Footy with his mates! Get a grip off local leagues there is no such thing as a friendlies even for u7s! Leagues are printed each week and handed to manager who hands it round parents! Friendlies DO NOT EXIST! Managers should be encouraged to play all children in all positions!

  272. Peter KIRWAN on January 19, 2012 at 11:48 pm

    I agree with many of these changes but the change of age group is nonsense as for taking competitive football away you cant managers will just make up there own league.Just have regular relegation and promotion in the season so the grading is better.The FA should look at profesinal clubs on how they treat kids chook them out at ten or eleven and the kid dosent want to play again now that is wasting talent.

  273. Andy Harland on January 23, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    As a current under 13’s coach the tranition from 6 aside football with 2 seperate teams and 1 to 2 subs per team up to full size 11 aside was daunting for the boys but never the less went without any hitches. The problem I forsee is the transition from 5 aside probably running 2 7 to 8 player squads to 9 aside with now having 14 to 15 players, now just playing 1 game. Unless the game extends to 30 mins each way each player will only get a small ammount of game time and your average little johny will soon become despondant at either not playing every week or spending a large ammount of time watching, wheras the old method of 2 seperate 6 aside games and then straight up to 11 aside with a 14 to 15 player squad the player rotation is much fairer with each player getting a fair amount of playing time.

  274. Kerry Home on January 24, 2012 at 10:31 pm

    I have great concern at the moment as my son aged 6years 6 months is currently playing a year above his age at an under 8 team he has played at since being 5. Next season we are coming up under 9s and i am now being told that he will have to drop down a year because he is unable to play in a league where league points are collected, I find this a disagrace as all the research I have done regarding this all everyone goes on about is maintaing the fun and meeting the needs of the children and yet a child very capable of playing in a team he is doing well in is made to leave a well developed team and group of friends and be singled out to find a new team. I would be grateful if their is anyone who could give me some much needed feedback on this I am willing to explore any avenue.

  275. Lewis Evans on January 25, 2012 at 9:49 am

    As i’ve posted on this discussion before, I totally agree with all of the new FA proposals bu the one answer I still can’t seem to get or understand is whether the existng format of two games of 7-a-side will be implemented when we all go to 9-a-side, several other local managers are under the impression we will only play one game of 9-a-side, most clubs have a squad of 18 players or more, so what do we all do with the excess players, can we not just play use the same format we currently have, then look to add more players closer to 11-a-side, it would be good to get this side of it sorted out so everyone can start planning properly and ensure as many children as possible are still involved in the game.

  276. Grant Miller on January 28, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    I would love to be in a position to comment on this subject, however my current concerns are more fundamental than this. We have recently moved back from Australia to the UK and my son who loves football is being prevented from playing.

    We arranged for my son to join up with his local side as soon as we could and as you can imagine he was extremely disappointed to learn that he may not be able to register for the remainder of this season.

    Before we left Australia he spoke about little else than his excitement at joining a side in England and the prospect of this gave him a real boost during the difficult transition resulting from the move.

    I have always actively encouraged my son with his football even coaching his team in Australia, and I was therefore extremely disapponted as was he to be advised that he could not play because he had missed the registration date even though he had been out of the UK for 5 years and therefore had not played for any other side in the UK. I had hoped that whoever was making the decision regarding my son was as passionate as I am about encouraging football at the grass roots level and would allow my son to register and play now. I know that it would make his day. There appears to be rather too much red tape that could stifle the enthusiasm of youngsters who just want to play football.

  277. Phil on January 30, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    I believe that many of the changes proposed by the FA are sensible, logical, and will ultimately produce better quality footballers. In particular, playing smaller sided games on smaller pitches is concept that should have been adopted years ago.

    I do have two concerns however. Please can the FA give assurances that leagues/divisions will continue to exist. I am not talking about league tables or placings. What I am concerned to see preserved is teams playing at the right level for their ability. In other words teams should continue to be streamed so that the better teams do not come up against those of lesser ability and vice versa. One sided games just dishearten the weaker team whilst the stronger teams develop bad habits.

    So, by all means, do away with published league tables for younger age groups, but please, still allow teams to be placed in the correct division!

    One final point. Indoor football sounds good for the winter as we lose so many games to the weather. As for the other suggestions under the “flexible format” heading, joint training sessions etc, please remember that coaches at kids football are volunteers. These other proposals look likely to create more complexity and workload for coaches who just want to turn up with their team, have a great game of football, and then get on with the rest of their busy lives!

  278. mother of u10 player on January 30, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    We recently had a game against a team who is well known for its dirtyness and lack of respect for the game of football.We have watched several games of this team and each time they play the sameway with the same three individuals lowering the standards for mini soccer.They used to have a referee who was unbiased and would make the boys leave the pitch as well as already having several warnings before hand.The coach they had,had only started that season at under 10s and would also sub the boys for this attitude but about a month ago they got rid of the referee and coach due to parents not happy as they were and still are loosing nearly every game in their league.Now they have a manager who manages two diffrent age groups already for the club and he also has the same atitude as the individuals as our game became dirtier as it came to an end because they had failed to score they got a goal in th end by kicking through our keeper while he came out for the ball and the goal stood after this the keper was took out again with stoods raised which automaticaly raisd concern for the way the game was going with the same individual still allowed to play only for him then to elbow anothr player in the face even their coach getting involved saying’the ball was there to be won what do you want us just to let you have the ball’.The referee had to be no more than 13years old if that he wasnt able to calm the situation and has refereed several games now getting in the way of play obstructing opposition players etc etc.The point i have to make is certain individuals of the game need to be removed,peoples children should not have to turn up to matches to be hurt intentially time after time with no protection from referees especially ones of that age that arent in control and with coaches getting involved with the parent of the hurt child telling her the ball was there to go for,what studs up sliding in i dont think so! mini soccer is supposed to be a game of footy,you lose some you win some given your best but enjoyed it all the same,the biggest problem is referees i would propose that each team has a ref that referees a half each of an adult age of 18 + or an appointed referee is seriously needed for each match.Other teams we play against yes the ref could have been more in favour of a throw in or two going to their team or so you might think being on the oppisite team but there isnt another team in the league like this(newcastle mini soccer).is there an age to ref mini soccer at all or can a 8,9,10 year old ref a game?

  279. Mr D C on January 31, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    we found out yesterday that our children will jump from 6 a side to 11 a side next season.I find this absolutely ridiculous.

  280. Tolley on February 1, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    I have sat and read these outlined plans and I pretty much do agree with them all. I have coached one of my sons team from u7’s through to current u13’s. I have seen how some things have a negative effect on the players and have also learnt alot myself. My only concern is that I have taken on my youngest sons team which will be next seasons u7’s. Maybe I havent understood the outlined age plan. Does it mean I would loose the older boys in my squad ie sept – dec boys will the age be sept 05 – dec 06??
    Please could somebody help me out and answer this. Thank you

  281. Danny on February 2, 2012 at 12:08 am

    We have already began the formation in Kent of a competitive league for U7’s up to U11’s. It will not be affiliated to the FA, will keep mini soccer format upto the age of 10 years old, and will keep the same age format.
    It will be a totally independent league.
    We believe parents and kids should have a choice, and that most strong teams with kids of an above average standard will prefer to play in an unaffiliated league.
    Watch this space.

  282. Martin on February 3, 2012 at 9:02 am

    Is it possible to stop a player playing for another club because he has left my team without paying subs?

  283. Kate on February 7, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    I think that not publishing league results would be a very good idea for the younger ages but I think that streaming would still be useful so teams are playing against teams of similar abilities. Perhaps record results but don’t publish them.

    I have this opinion as my son and another member of the team (u9’s) spend the majority of matches on the side line, often only playing for 10 minutes out of a 50 minute match. This is very disheartening for them. We have discussed with the coach the reasons for this and it boils down to them not being as good as the other boys. The coach has said it is a league and they want to win, so until they improve nothing will change. My concern, which I have shared with the coach, is that if they don’t play matches they will develop even more slowly than their peers who are already better than them not to mention the effect this has on their confidence.

    Perhaps not publishing leagues would mean all young players would have a fair chance to develop at their own rate.

  284. BEEFYBOY on February 11, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    SUBS THAT HAVE NOT BEEN PAID !!!
    Somebody left a comment about a boy that has not paid his subs up and can you stop him playing for another team. I say this. Why give yourself the grief ? let him go somewhere else and concentrate your efforts on the team you have. After all what are you talking about in money ??? But for future reference why not adopt a scheme whereas if a player does not pay his subs for two weeks they are not eligible to play until its settled.

  285. Trisha on February 12, 2012 at 10:58 pm

    I think to play non competitive football at this age would be great, it should be about enjoying the game not who wins. The coaches need to recognise the fact that not all players are of the same standard. The players that do not play as well need to be encouraged to play and improve not left on the side line while the “better” players get to have more practice therefore making the divide even greater. This comes from a parent fed up of travelling great distances to find that my son only gets 10 minutes on the pitch. Also there are some boys signed up from the age group below and they get to play more of the match than my son because according to the coach they are better players. Is this allowed, is there not some rule about how much league football boys can play in one day.

  286. Danny on February 13, 2012 at 11:59 am

    I think the age minimum for 11 a side games should be for the coaches and teachers to decide whether they think a 11 a side game of football is ok for there team

  287. Dave on February 14, 2012 at 10:56 am

    As someone who has coached professionally for 7 years (mostly in the States, but now back in the UK) it is fair to say reading these comments that the problem is simple…the adults! For coaches, especially at Rec level, rather than using their position to help children to become better players and undertsand the game as much as possible, they see it as their opportunity to prove they could do what Mourinho or Ferguson has done, and win trophies, not understanding there is a big difference between the Birmingham County Alliance U10 C division and the £20mil prize for winning the Premier League!!! THE ONLY RESULT THAT MATTERS IS THE ONE THAT PAYS THE MORTGAGE!

    Naturally, kids are competitive and will focus on the result, so it is the coaches job to keep an eye on development. The comment about U9’s not getting a game until things change is pretty disgusting and close to a form of bullying.

  288. Christopher Leslie on February 15, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    I htink this is a great idea. 11 a side football for children under 12 is to much in my opinion, I don’t think 11 a side should be introduced until at least the age of 13 if i’m honest. I think part of the problem is exacly this, in spain and holland for example they don’t introduce 11 a side till around 13 because it is to much to ask of younger players and wastes all their energy and decreases some players confidence, having 5 a side up 2 9 a side till the age of 12-13 is a good way to develop younger players and their technique and reading of the game, it also allows them to just enjoy themselves as well as learning in the small sided method, which is effective in some football clubs I have seen.

  289. Helen H on February 15, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    I am in favour of 9×9 for the u11/u12 age groups (and by extension 5×5 and 7×7 for the younger ones) so hope that this is phased in as soon as possible.

    I am less sure about the move to school year. My son’s birthday is in November so he’s old in his u9 year, but he’s actually quite small for his age. He would be tiny in a team made up mainly of current U10s.

    I hope that the non-competitive thing is brought in immediately, so that current u9s go back to a non-competitive set-up from September 2012 when they become u10s. I really don’t like leagues. Our team is doing well, but the pressure is on to win every match and the league, and I don’t like it. I don’t even think that there should be knock-out football at primary school age level.

  290. Helen H on February 15, 2012 at 7:28 pm

    Sorry when I said I don’t like leagues I meant competitive leagues.

    I do agree that the teams should play in divisions commensurate with their ability. In effect have what you have now, but without publishing results and having league winners and losers.

  291. James Clarke on February 25, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    WHY do all the pro clubs choose big tall players over the small players who are better tecnically than the big players, yes i admit that at the levels under 7 to about under 15 the big players can use there size to win games but when all the players are playing at the age of 16 upwards as young men the big players dont seem to have it all there way. I’m just worried england are killing the creative smaller players.

  292. Roy Adams on February 27, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    These changes should have been implemented many years ago. Unfortunately the English FA, as usual, are a follower rather than a leader when it comes to moving the game forward.
    For years research has highlighted the need to change and many good young kids have been lost to the game because of the delay in introducing these changes.

  293. graeme on February 29, 2012 at 8:12 am

    whichever way you change it you will have stonger players and weaker players. moving the age cutoff through the year wont change that.

    the fa should invest in coaching the coaches of youth club coaches at rec level. this is the best way to get the right skills taught to kids at the early ages.

  294. tonery warszawa on March 5, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    We are a group of volunteers and opening a new scheme in our community. Your web site offered us with valuable information to work on. You’ve done an impressive job and our entire community will be grateful to you.

  295. Michael munn on March 5, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    I agree with a number of the proposed changes. However I am concerned that a number of players will be lost under one of the proposals. At the moment we have an u7 squad of 16 players. We play two games a week on a Sunday and therefore split the squad in two teams of 8. 6v6 with two subs per game. It works perfectly. Everyone gets a game. They play in different positions. We switch players between teams. We play at the same venue one game after another. We have four coaches and all help with setting up, dealing with parents , other coaches and of course training/coaching the kids. If we are not allowed to mix the teams and are required to register separate teams, teams could be playing at different venues on the same day splitting the coaches. The kids would not get to see the other team play. Fundamentally it is likely that we will simply select 8 kids and release the others, some of which will not go on to other clubs and will lose out on playing football. I already know one club has sent out a letter releasing some of the kids. Of course all of the best players will be kept and the least talented are the ones that will be lost perhaps forever. This will put pressure on other teams to do the same in order to compete.

  296. Simon James on March 5, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    I’m unconvinced of the benefits of moving to the use of the calendar year and it’s having an effect on my views of the other proposals. The Mourinho quote for me encapsulates the problem: the focus on winning turns some children off; it means bigger players who can learn quickest and kick the ball hardest are favoured; and it panders to some coaches and parents for whom winning a football match somehow teaches their kids to be “winners” in life. We should let removing the league system for younger children and the 9×9 initiative have an effect before making the change to the age groups – if it makes no difference then bring in calendar year club sides. I also feel that coaches need to do more than just pass an FA coaching course – some form of monitoring of their coaching skills, their attitudes, the way the engage with children and parents should be ongoing. I see too many coaches who either aren’t coaching effectively or who think they’re running a Premiership outfit: they need to be kept within acceptable boundaries.

  297. Shawn Staniforth on March 5, 2012 at 11:24 pm

    Copied and pasted from Derek grahams comments as i totally agree with him. Especially on the non competitve football age. Would also say that summer football would be ok but you would then be playing on rock hard pitches and boiling hot conditions which would lead to other serious health risks. This would also interfer with clubs fund raising during the summer months, which is the bread and butter of most clubs. I would say that better investment in better pitches i.e more 3G pitches and club facilities would be better for grass roots football.

    Commenting on all the proposals:
    a) Increase in small-sided football – generally agree, though I would argue that 7 v 7 could be started at U8 not U9.
    b) I believe 9 v 9 is an excellent intermediatery step and I and other coaches/managers I know do share the concern over the large step from 7 v 7 to 11 v 11 etc. Despite the possible difficulties , you have my full support on this.
    c) Competitive – not in general agreement. Though the argument to not start competitive leages before U10 is a powerful one. But I believe ‘not before U12′ is too late. The kids enjoy the matches. Perhaps shorter ‘two-leagues’ per season (i.e. half-seasons) would be the answer.
    d) Summer football – in moderation. Personally my coaches and I really need the summer break to refresh ourselves and renew our enthusiasm.
    e) Age group changes – tend to agree with the new proposals.

  298. Captain Pugwash on March 7, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    Since The end of November our U7s have played just five fixtures due to the weather. In each of those five fixtures we have had children becoming distressed, falling ill, not turning up, not wanting to play etc due to the cold, wind, rain and so on. The kids can not kick the ball out of the mud with frozen feet let alone develop a great first touch!!! As a result many of the lads have become discouraged. The welfare of the children and enjoyment of the game must be paramount!

    For me a switch to summer football for mini soccer is crucial. I would like to see the mini soccer season run from Easter – Haloween with an 8 week break over the school holidays to allow for Summer Tournaments and family holidays. This would still leave 2o weeks for friendlies or league matches.

    The clash with cricket arguement is somewhat of a non starter in my eyes – as at this age kids play their cricket on an evening during the week; weekends are for the men etc. Kids could still partake in both games.

  299. Derek Mercer on March 7, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    This all seems great but what about the change in pitch size, we already strugle to get 7aside and 11aside?

  300. vicky says: on March 11, 2012 at 9:42 am

    I think it is a great idea because then younger people who like football can play it but it ust to only be the older people like teenagers and older people than that but the adults can play so it’s not fare on the younger ones

  301. stewilkie08 on March 12, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    what is happening to our kids!!!! i cannot belive that people are saying that it is too cold to play football!!!!! many many great and some of the worlds greatest players have had to play through the wind and rain and snow to achive their goals i think its more to do with being able to stay warm and dry playing on a computer game is what makes our kids not want to go as for parents wanting summer football well its maybe that they want to stay warm too!!! leave them as 7 v 7 untill they are at high school just leave the game alone its worked so far!!!!

  302. TJ on March 19, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    I would like to see a complete overhaul of junior football whereby the FA reduces the number of junior clubs and leagues for younger children.
    I would like the FA them to start up and fund regional drop-in coaching centres run by UEFA B licence coaches who are qualified to teach kids aged 4 to 11yrs. All other coaches should be at least level 3 youth.
    These centres should concentrate only on coaching technique, 1v1 and small sided 4v4 games. They should be open to kids of all ability on a turn up and play basis with absolutely no league tables or involvement from un-qualified people. The emphasis should be about fun, the individual not teams, developing skills and technique above all else. 4v4 is proven to have 500% more touches on the ball than 11v11.
    The competitive edge could come from weekly 4v4 cup competitions, with grade finals so everyone plays the same number of games, teams would change each week then everyone can win or lose.
    The centres would have graded sessions so kids play with similar abilities, this doesn’t have to be the same age though and talented kids can play-up.
    To ensure we have enough coaches the whole UEFA B licence should be made much cheaper to obtain in the UK and open to all coaches who have the correct characteristics for wanting to develop and teach kids, these centres could also become a learning environment for talented coaches.

  303. steve on March 21, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    i agree with smaller pitch less players more touches of the ball but having played and brought up children playing not having league tables doesnt inspire, all children would love to win a trophy some never will, but not having an opportunity takes away a bit of competitive sprit indeed i know some players which left central warwickshire leagues to go play with big academies have found not being able to win trophys very disappointing to them, both my lads have been lucky enough to have been in championship winning teams and to take this small reward for all their hard work in delevoping is disappointing, i hope that you can play competitive football because not all children develope at the same age some slowy develope and some develope later and all children should have an opportunity at some time, academies seem only interested in players who have an individual talent and most team players who read the game and do everything right seem to be at a disadvantage has academies see this as a lack of confidence and would prefer to have a player who hogs the ball.

  304. Steve Munn on April 9, 2012 at 10:38 am

    I’m consumed that as they move from 5v5 to 7v7 then 9v9 and then eventually 11v11 each time the team is looking for addition players, where are these kids going to come from they may be new children brought in to the system witch is great but they are also likely to have been recruited from someone else’s existing team causing it to fold and there by loosing young players from the game. I have experienced this going from 7v7 to 9v9 last season and are find it difficult now looking for extra players for next season to go 11v11 without looking at other teams players

  305. Cathy P. on April 10, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    Children have been playing football for years and years and you will never knock the competitive nature out of them! It is only natural! And I certainly dont think taking away league tables and cup competitions will make them enjoy the sport anymore. My three boys have played for various football teams from an early age and each one of them could not wait to join a ‘league’ at under 9’s. Winning and losing is part of the sport – any sport for that matter. Is it just football that is making all these crazy changes, or cricket, rugby, swimming, tennis – the list goes on and on. My children have not suffered going from 7 a side to 11 a side- what is all the fuss about! And as for making it a summer sport?! Too cold for children to play? Do we really need to wrap our little footballers up in cotton wool that much, when there are children the same age in other countries working 12 hours a day and walking miles just to get fresh water! But its too cold in England for our children to play football for 45 minutes? Crazy!What a shame that the best loved game in Britain is being messed about by people in suits who certainly havent spoken to any of the many children that I know who play youth football and love it just the way it is!! Children get rewarded in the classroom for doing well and for their academic acheivements – why shouldn’t they be for all their hard work and committment on the football pitch??!

  306. g larini on April 15, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    I agree with some of the changes but why don t the children play 6 a side until they are 13 then play 11 a side and not bother with 9 a side.
    At the moment we have 2 six a side teams that play another team, which works great. You split the teams depending on if you want to try both games or one. Once they reach under 11s they will go to 1 eleven a side team which is good as you can keep the same players without keep on changing every 2 seasons from 5 a side then 7 a side then 9 a side and again 11 a side. How can you keep the same players every season. The turnaround will be madness as you will either have to lose players to other teams or may poach from other teams every 2 seasons.
    The changing of the ages is a stupid idea.

  307. Nigel Y on April 16, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    I generally agree with having 9 vs 9, but foresee problems with squad sizes and having to recruit more players when you hit U11. We are lucky in having a 21 kid squad, which makes 7 vs 7 interesting!
    Moving to 9 vs 9, we won’t have enough to make 2 teams or have enough coaches/helpers to run a second team.
    What about costs of clubs having to buy new goals, they already have mini-soccer ones?
    Many teams rely on councils etc for marking out of pitches, are they going to have a dedicated 9 vs 9 pitch, I know for our club that we will struggle to find somewhere, we already have a pitch problem.

  308. Paul - Kent on April 17, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    I have heard that the proposal for calender years as opposed to the current school years in determining teams was not put forward by the FA as a final proposal. Can anyone enlighten us.

  309. Alan Greenwood on April 20, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    To Paul Kent, as I understand it it would have been to messy to implement.

  310. chan on April 22, 2012 at 12:30 am

    Hi Do you know of any under 11/12 / u13 leagues that play 5v5 7v7 9v9in west midlands.

  311. JB on April 22, 2012 at 10:15 am

    In response to Cathy P on April 10th. I believe she may be missing the point. The changes proposed are not designed to to make children less competative they are to give children a better experience than they are having now. Many adults who run teams think that their aim is to manipluate children to win games and climb league tables. The method is shouting instructions and even excluding children. The changes are necessary because our current structure inhibits many of our players which is evident from Relative Age Effect rescearch. However, The game format is only part of what needs to change. Most people who consider themselves coaches have simply attended a weekend course. So effectively we have a profession practiced by amatures. Would you accept the same level of insight in any other profession.

  312. Jane Morris on April 24, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    I am totally against the non-competative league up to U11 (inc). We have just completed our first season in the league and having scores recorded has just added to the whole fun. We did not win the league but have thoroughly enjoyed checking on the table to see how we were doing. Children who watch football know all about league tables and understand them. I think in all counties some clubs strive to win at all costs and other have the opposite approch of all players playing. Parents need to research teams a little and apply accordingly. The flip side is that we could put off good talented players as they never get recogonistion for their talents. I feel lots of children “fall in love with the game” but inevitably as they get older other sports or interests take preference so you will always get a drop in numbers at some point. Making football non competative – I feel – is not the answer.

  313. Carl on April 25, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    My son plays for the under 10’s at our local club in Suffolk. He has played for them for 3 years (since he started to play). They run A & B 7 v 7 teams. The club are always in the top 3 of the top division. My son plays for the B team. He was confident of making the cut when the club changed to 11 aside in two years time (whereby the squad would be reduced from 18 to 14). The introduction of 9 v 9 next year by the FA has meant that the club will now have to loose 7 boys. My son will almost certainly be one of them. As most clubs are in the same situation (i.e. only running one 9 v 9 side) it is unlikely that he will find another club locally. He is devastated. The FA have a reputation for being buffoons. It is a reputation that I believe they work hard to maintain.

  314. nextstars on April 28, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    England has many good qualities but clubs get players from all over the World thereby inproving football worldwide while English players never get the chance of playing and competing abroad. Now nextsars through the LFE is doing this. Making dreams cross boarder to Spain. This is the start for better things for England.

  315. stu east on April 28, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    The 9v9 is a good idea but I envisage a massive problem with clubs trying to provide different size goals and pitches. There is already a problem with football clubs finding decent land for pitches .
    Playing area is THE main problem in this land greedy country .

  316. D M Weir on April 29, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    As a parent and administrator of an under 11’s boys team, I think the introduction of the 9 vs 9 instead of straight into 11 aside for us next season is great for us. Firstly most of the boys were worrying about the size of the pitch, going from a smaller pitch to the size the men play on. One season at 9 aside is not enough, just as the boys get used to a bigger pitch more rules etc they were expected then to move to an 11 aside, bigger pitches bigger goal. I think we could go further and extend to 9 aside to under 13s/14s maybe. Football has changed, its less about big players and brute force and tackling, and more about skill, and passing. Which is great for the smaller children out there. At the end of the day if this directive encourages kids to enjoy the skillfull side of the game for longer, then it can only benefit football in this country.

  317. ian gill on April 30, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    I have two sons 8 & 11 who both play football. The older one has started 11 a side this year after 4 years at 7 a side and has always enjoyed the competition of a league and cup, particularly if they won a trophy. The younger boy has just wasted a year and a half with a coach who followed the non-competitive approach, and along with the majority of the other boys completely lost interest in playing for a team that was run like a kids club, purely for fun, so much so he was talking of giving up and playing rugby. From my experiences with children’s football, competition is good and brings the best out of the players, if there is no value to winning, there is no value to playing.

  318. salmanschelsea on May 7, 2012 at 4:13 am

    Respected sir or madam , hi i am frm india , indian football is in a big mess , i waz 17 wen i first played on a grass ground (dry) , i am 23 now . it wz just yesterday i went to play indoor football in a indoor pitch sumwer in east london , played wid some local english boys aged maybe 17 to 20 …d game waz like a rocket to me , i den realized dat we(indians ) are actually 30 or more years behind in terms of football ………n i want to change dat i have been in dis country for abt 1n half years now everydAY while goin to university i c 100 of football pitch empty………bottomline is no interst of football becoz of no competativeness …………so if u dump compettitive leauges n competiion , ders a term called “match exprience ” in football it will be quiet low on dem …………n introduction is a 9v9 is a fantastic idea………………….last last bit is y dont england has a national academy ?

  319. sr on May 9, 2012 at 10:31 pm

    having a son of 12 who as been involved in kids football since the age of 7 it beggers believe the mentalaty of the adults that are involved in kids football coaches and parents . we wounder why some good talented kids never kick a ball again after the age of 15-16 when they have just had enough of been shouted at from the age 7 . spanish football had the same problams as we have in kids football 20 years ago but they adressed it and look were they are now. kids are not botherd about points league tables they just want to play football without being shouted at by mums dads grandparents managers assistent managers assistents assistents managers. could the fa start a national campaign to get kids back onto local parks playing 20 aside jumpers for goal posts without a adult insight

  320. jonathan on May 18, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    the age change will have an especially bad impact on kids born sept-dec 2006

    they will not only be separated from their friends and put with the year above, but also they will miss out totally on their critical first year of playing in a team at u7

    so they will be expected to compete for places with kids that are not only older but also who have played in a team for a year already (as well as the maturity gained from an extra year at school)

    so to be clear:

    current system – summer kids in the one unavoidable way – someone will be the youngest

    new system – autumn 2006 kids disadvantaged in 5 ways – younger, split from friends, school football level lower than club, one year less school maturity and miss playing in u7 year!!

    fa needs to either scrap this proposal or at least allow autumn 2006 kids to play in u7 a year early to give them some chance to catch up with the older and more experienced year they will be thrown into!

    madness!

  321. Mike on May 18, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    My 9 year old has just completed his first competitive season. The team manager’s objective was to finish the season with as many points as possible. As a consequence the less developed boys played significantly less football than their team mates. The affected boys were usually only trusted to play when the opposition was weaker and/or the game was already won , or were called off early if it looked like the game might be drawn rather than won. For my son, too many Saturdays started with eager anticipation but ended in disappointment.
    From what I’ve witnessed this year, the FA needs to provide greater guidance to the people who volunteer to coach. There seems to be a huge variation in how coaches manage their group of boys and girls – coaches need a clear steer on their role, a basic understanding of child development, a list of do’s / don’ts.

  322. Nick T on May 28, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    It is about time. football is not just about who is the better athlete, it is about who plays the game with their head aswell as their feet. At a younger age Players should be encouraged to rotate the position they play in to better understand the overall game and player interaction. A smaller limited touches game should also be encourgaed to improve touch and control. The proposals are to be applauded, hopefully in 20years time this country can finally have a team that plays foot ball we can all be proud of. How we address the behaviour of players to make us proud is another matter altoghether……….

  323. Dean Booker on May 28, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    Can anyone answer this question.
    Under the new rules will players still be allowed to play up an age group.
    Under current rules a child who is of the age group U11 can play at U12. Will this change.
    My FA Rep could not even answer this.

  324. James Ellis on May 31, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    While these proposals (small sided games) are a massive positive and should have been introduced a long time ago I can’ help but feel the FA is missing a trick and only scratching the surface. The size of the pitch / numbers per side is irrelevant if you still have uneducated coaches who don’t encourage true development. Why aren’t the FA investing in coach education alongside this? Those in grass roots football without a coaching qual should get their level 1 subsidised or paid for. Those with a Level one their level 2 and those with a level 2 their level 3 and so on. Unless their is true investment in educating coaches we will still have the same – get the ball forward quickly, play to win mentality which fails to develop players regardless of the size of the pitch or size of the teams.

  325. Tim protherough on May 31, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    As a coach of grass roots football I’m surprised to see that you’ve failed to mention the importance of learning ball manipulation.
    To enable coaching of this you would require the use of futebol de salao (weighted size 2 ball) which doesn’t bounce so therefore spends more time on the ground and in play thus increasing the amount of touches per child or a futesal ( size 4 with reduced bounce ) to achieve the same objectives.
    In order to solve the problem of pitch and goal sizes I’m surprised the FA haven’t thought to approach the many primary schools within every area in order to get a national standard 7-11 yr old pitch size I feel this would be the quickest and easiest way to implement the proposed changes to youth football.
    I have many ideas for youth football and would be more than happy to share them with you please feel free to contact me at any time

  326. James McCrossan on June 1, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    If Im totally honest I feel these new plans are ridiculous, if the Fa wanted to take competitiveness out of mini soccer then remove results so that there isn’t a league table to look at but leave the league structure there so our League can organise fixtures.

    I totally agree with the 9v9 step as it gives kids the chance to adapt to a bigger pitch and more players without making the massive jump from 7v7 to 11v11

    I have to stress though and I repeat what I said earlier, removing mini soccer as a whole and stopping league based fixtures, your taking away such a crucial part of young players careers.

    The bigger leagues like the Molton east Kent youth who have over 300 teams, it will be physically impossible to adapt our league to suit indoor football, I can’t be done. Therefore you will get team managers rebelling against these plans and organising there own leagues to keep the majority of boys and girls happy.

    I think the Fa need to have a rethink:
    Stick to the 9v9
    Take away match results
    Coach coaches and parent to change their perspective on winning

  327. Lisa Draycott Fry on June 3, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    Hi I am the parent of an Under 9’s player in Surrey.
    a. we are not here to breed the next National team
    b. this pitch size that pitch size, surely not all clubs can accommodate this?
    c. the nature of football is competative. What’s the point in playing?
    d. children need to learn life lessons as well as sports lessons, they need to learn how to accept losing and winning graciously
    e. if they want a general kick around they can go to the park independantly
    f. Of course parents and coaches are going to egg them on, that’s a natural human reaction, they need to learn to deal with that too
    g. maybe they drop out of football because they’ve discovered other sports or leisures
    h. not all countries that have this system are World or European Champions
    i.everyone always knocks the coaches and parents forgetting the mileage and dedication and Sunday morning sacrifices week in week out that we all put in
    j. Stop the Premiership teams playing so many foreign players so there’ll be more opportunity for our youngters therefore fuelling the National side.

    Nuff said.

  328. Lisa Draycott Fry on June 3, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    Makes me sooo angry when people are saying parents are a problem. They are our children. We pay the subs, we drive them to and fro from training and matches. We volunteer for meetings and committees that raise funds to support the club. Children naturally grow out of things, football isn’t compulsory. Everyones making out it’s the most important thing in the world. Well it isn’t. My son may decide he wants to concentrate on cricket or swimming or hockey or nothing next year – it doesn’t mean he doesn’t like football because of shouting or losing. How very dare you!

  329. Haldane United on June 5, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    I coach under @ 9s in the West of Scotland. Our kids have not long started to play 7 aside football. Before that they were playing for aside games. Something of which the dutch introduced to Scotland a couple of years ago.
    It works wonderfully well up here. The standard is getting better and better. The coaches are supported and given the opportunity to gain coaching qualifications through the SYFA and local Sports development Officers.
    There are no league tables but that doesn’t make the games any less competitive for the majority of kids, because at the end of the day, they all still want to win. having a league table is irrelevant at this age because its about the greater good, which is the development of future players. I’m an Englishman in Scotland and I can easily say that the future of Scottish football at grass roots level has improved dramatically and that can only be good for the long term.
    England will only benefit from this aswell.
    In 15 years plus, we will get to reap the benefits.
    Home grown talent will be fruitful and top clubs will look at the home grown players before they look abroad.
    It works in Holland and Spain … enuff said

  330. Lisa Draycott Fry on June 6, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    But there’s two “sides” – the families that enjoy the children playing a game every Sunday whose children may never be good enough to play for a local side let alone National side when they’re older, and those wishing to improve football on a far greater level. This is going to make teams more selective because what “your” saying is the better players will get more of a chance to show their ability. Well what about the boys and girls who just generally enjoy playing at this age (7-11)?

  331. carolj on June 8, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    Re : the below statement regarding relative age effect …..in the countries that go by calender year you will find the pie is same except the months change. In Aus : The boys that are born Jan – April are the ones picked as they are usually the bigger boys & boys born Sept – Dec are rarely chosen …in Aus the boys disadvantaged are the Sept to Dec births. By changing the age by calender Year all will be doing is changing the pie. England should keep the age 31st Aug – or to be fair to all age dates have 2 teams in the age group …. those born Jan to June & those born July – Dec so that no boy is disadvantaged by age because no matter how you change the date …..someone will be at a disadvantage. In Australia we also have a problem when boys come from overseas countries without birth certificates you find most of these boys are born the 1st January.
    RE : Just reverse your pie if you change to calender year Jan – April – iwould read 57%
    May – Aug 29%
    Sept – December 14%
    *****So the kids in England born Sept – Dec would go from being 57% to 14% **** tell me that a Calender year is fairer !!!!! ****

    “This effect has been demonstrated in academic achievement and in numerous sports around the world. Football is one of them. In 2009, 57% of Premier League academy students had birthdays in September – December, 29% were born in January – April, while those born in May – August accounted for only 14% (see graph, left). “

  332. Albert Fellowes on June 12, 2012 at 10:53 pm

    I dont understand why when you say you are imoroving the junior football you intend to make a 13 yeay old keeper play in a larger goal/ at the moment the recomended size for 13s is 21ft. by 7ft. your proposals are tha he will play in a goal 28ft. by 8ft.. WHY.
    Albert Fellowes

  333. Martin on June 12, 2012 at 11:57 pm

    Haldane United in Holland they play 7 v 7 from age six. They don’t play any 9 v 9 and they only use size 5 footballs of different weights. They also have competitive leagues complete with league tables at ALL ages. Don’t believe everything the FA is saying!

  334. Richard Mills on June 19, 2012 at 9:58 am

    Relative Age Effect in football

    Firstly, lets take the statistics, and your pie chart, what do you think will happen if the cut-off dates are changed ?
    Anyone with an ounce of common sense can see that the pie chart will look EXACTLY the same, but with the months moved,
    ie: the Premier League Academies will have less players born in Sept – Dec.

    Secondly, Does the FA not see that changing this is completely against their own guidelines on discrimination.
    The FA will be discriminating against children playing football with their classmates because of their age.

    What affect do you think this will have on the children born January and after when they are told,
    “Yes you can play football, but, sorry Johny you cant play with the rest of your classmates, because you are too young, you will have to play with the younger children”.
    To a child, a school age year is a massive difference, much bigger than a calendar year.
    Do you think this discrmination will make Johny a better player ? No, you point out that the main reason he comes to play football is for fun and to be with his friends, he may even give up playing as he wont be with his classmates and friends anymore.
    How do you think this will affect Johny as a person, will it give him more confidence ? Of course not,
    this will possibly have a devastating affect on Johnys footballing as well as his schooling and social life.
    Why do you want to mess with something that the schools believe work, and has worked for many years.

    Thirdly, have you spoken to anyone at ‘grassroots level’ ?
    The coaches at club level, do they believe that changing the age cut-off date is sensible, and will it have any benefit ?
    There will be an age difference of up to a year wherever the cut-off is. As it stands it fits in with what everyone else uses, schooling ages.

    Teachers, head teachers, do they think it will have a benefit to the children ?

    Have you spoken to the people that really matter, the children. Who do they want to play with, go and watch them at school.

    Please tell me how I can help you change your mind, and not introduce this change just for the sake of some statistics.

  335. gordon burnley on June 23, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    The sooner the midlincs league breaks away from the English FA the better…we are turning are kids into a bunch of pushover’s….i want my team to play football to feet and to learn how to win matches,as that is what football is about… winning not just taking part…do you really think alex ferguson and the rest of the pro game are happy when they loose…. kid’s need to learn how to develop in the right way,they are all different but there end goal has to be how to play the game the right way,and how to get the right result… which however you want to gloss over it ..is winning matches….The FA say coach kids to a realistic game situation ????? 5v5….no leagues or cup competitions, so how are they to learn the winning mentality you need to be world champions like ….. yes you have guessed it…spain…. some changes are right , but i would challenge the FA yes men to take charge of a grass roots team for a whole season then tell me what they plan on doing is correct !!!! alan shearer,beckham,giggs, scholes haven’t done bad the old way.

  336. anne presley on June 25, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    you cannot take the competition out of football! it is a sport there has to be winners and losers thats part of life! Children will lose interest quickly if these rules go ahead! What daft rules will the FA come up with next …. bricking up the goalposts perhaps?!!!

  337. Brian Whittle on June 27, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    English football needs to at the very least, come into line with what has PROVEN to be successful time and time again on the continent re:youth training techniques and development.
    We should remember that current world and euro champs Spain spent alot of time being the ‘nearly’ team, always talented but often failing to deliver (sound familiar?) Paradoxically if we look at cycling, Spain produce great riders and England historically didn’t until a certain Mr Boardman won a gold at the Barcelona Olympics and as a team they learnt, not too proud to ‘know it all’ or to look at how to develop success from those who are already successful.
    We as a nation should be taking these PROVEN ideas and developing them to fit our schools, youth teams and more importantly our culture.
    It may well be unfortunate that in the early stages that current competitive young players find themselves not playing in competitive games as often but this is about the future of the masses and drastic measures are overdue by 20 years at least,
    People PLEASE!!!!!……
    This is about what’s best for the national game!!
    We’re all in this together and we have a RESPONSIBILITY to OUR NATIONAL GAME, besides the proposals will be phased in gradually! If England want to produce a winning team then things HAVE to change, what we’ve been doing for years isn’t working, I’m 42 and I’ve never seen England win anything, how is this OK?
    As far as I’m concerned as long as we take a measured approach, don’t rush, listen and take advice from sources that have proven success, AND listen to what’s going wrong we need to be flexible, be patient and not make change for changes sake, why can’t we start to turn the tide?
    Let me tell you, I’ve played semi-pro sport for years and I coach and I think the doughters have to remember one thing. THERE IS A BIG DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PLAYING TO WIN AND PLAYING NOT TO LOSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    because the latter ALWAYS ends in long term failure and breeds an undercurrent of ‘not quite good enough’ and unworthiness in the subconscious mind of those who compete. Admit we just aint good enough…..YET!!!!

  338. Brian Whittle on June 27, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    Ps…. Shearer, Beckham, , Sheringham, Seaman, what do they have in common? all losers in the grand scheme of things, good at club level and all successful but without their non English team mates? probably not. I leave you with two things. One, re: 6+5 idea the more non English players we have in our starting line ups the worse we seem to get as a national team, and two, Gerrard sat there in the aftermath and stated that we are not good enough, the FA representative so far has gone unchallenged when he stated that we need to nurture technique and that we have a way to go, we need to improve and we all know it, nobody likes change but this is enevitable

  339. teresa on June 27, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    My eldest son is 13 and we have had many a sleepless night over football. He has played with many different teams who all have the same attitude to winning at all costs! His previous manager actually picked him to join the team and started off with a view that they play for fun but soon turned into a manager whose only importance was winning and if a kid wasn’t good enough the manager would only play him for the amount of time he had to under the rules, if he felt like it. After weeks and months of turning up to training and not getting a match we asked him what was going on. His answer ” your kid is not good enough”.. My sons confidence was so low by this time we decided enough was enough. This team was part of a large club established for 30 yrs in our area yet when we approached them regarding the behavior we got no response. Luckily he found a new team where the manager actually enjoys teaching all the boys including his own, his confidence is on the up, he enjoys football again and most weeks plays a full game!!! How great we thought finally both our boys were happy playing a game they love.. But oh no lurking round the corner in the same club was another jumped up manager who thinks hes a premier league manager, who then decides after 2 seasons that my 8yr old is not good enough and he is more suited to a development squad that does not get to play matches! This time we made the decision to pull him from the team before hes confidence was knocked too low. Where do these managers who are only level 1 coaches get off on saying who they thinks is good or not. Hes also a manager whos boys play in the team.!! Presentation was last week and needless to say 5 of the 7 awards went to coaches kids again. The other 2 were chosen by the kids. (players player) No one high up in the club thinks that this is odd?
    Every local club near us has finished registration apart from 1 new club who are running trials?? Do you know something, I dont want my 8yr old doing trials for a local team because trials says it all really.. Bring in the new changes. something in youth football needs to change, including managers and hierarchy. Clubs should listen to frustratred parents and sad kids faces coming of the pitches. Im from a big football family and i can see exactly why kids leave at such a young age, league tables and managers who think there god!! If this helps my boys, who are both very competitive i might add, then bring it on..

  340. sr on June 27, 2012 at 9:48 pm

    people talk about winning and being competative surly the kids need to learn there trade first unfortunatly kids in this country and only this country are chucked on a football field to be used as adult entertainment . my son as never been taught how to pass a ball correctly control a ball correctly tackle correctly instead hes wasted years doing pointless routines out of a FA manual blue cone red cone green cone leave the ball in box number 3 and run to black cone . can we please burn every cone in this country and teach the kids the basics first.

  341. Kaz on June 29, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    I agree with the introduction of 9 v 9 and the other new proposals. I think under 11s should have a league table but the priority must be to ensure the coaching staff are fully accepting of FA rules and regulations and adhere to the Respect codes. It shouldn’t be about the parents, it should be the kids loving the game and wanting to learn it. The competitive side will always be there in some but if it is used in a positive, encouraging way that would be acceptable. We must make sure the right people are involved in the coaching staff. Crbs are an essential part but age appropriate should be part of the. Level 1 in my opinion.

  342. phil woodham on July 2, 2012 at 11:11 am

    My one concern is that there are far more teams/clubs than there are coaches. It’s all very well giving out the basic coaching badge that means very little if the individual thinks it’s as far as he needs to go. The basic badge seems to me only a license for clubs to sell themselves to next years newcomers, i’ve not seen one of these coaches able enough to organise , demonstrate and progress a decent session of coaching. Most of them are well meaning parents who are there only for the benefit of their own child.
    To find a club with ‘proper’coaching in East Herts is very difficult, perhaps it’s time to introduce a licensing system for clubs, rather that coaches, so that parents can at least choose the best alternative avail’. available.

  343. Peter Burchell on July 3, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    I have scanned through the proposals because I have grandchildren who play in a village team.
    I agree with most of the thoughts expressed, but I cannot agree with the proposal to take away the competitive element. The game itself is competitive, I have (unfortunately) seen opposing coaches/managers standing on the touchline and arguing at full volume and they were usually supported by vociferous parents. Not a good example for the kids, who only want to get on with the game. I agree that the majority of kids don’t really care about winning a cup at the end of the season (that’s what the parents/coaches/managers are striving for), the kids just want to play and the majority, while wanting to win (of course) don’t lose any sleep about losing, it’s just part of the game.
    So what I am getting to, is that while I agree with most of the reasons for change, I don’t believe the is the correct way – but I can’t come up with a better solution, other than keeping some form of League and Division so that a village team (with a pool of players of about 12, doesn’t have to play the team from a town which has a pool of about 60 or 70.

  344. Shane on July 12, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    My son is 7 and plays a year above his age group in football and when the new season starts the team is playing for will start playing competive football ( Under 9’s), does this mean he has to go back down to his own age or can he still play with his former team even though it’s a year above his age group??

    Please can you give me feedback as I have been told he can not play for his current team as he is to young!

  345. Julia on July 17, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    Shane, I have the same problem my son has been playing up a year since he started and has been playing with he’s current team for 2 years. He will be 8 at the beginning of September and is literally only two weeks younger than some of the boys in the team.
    The manager has said that he will gain nothing from going in a team of his age group if we could find one as we live in a small village and not many boys of his age have the same passion for football.
    I think that it should be down to the manager and parents if a child wants to play up as personally it will be more detrimental to my son to be kicked out of a team that he has bonded with over the last couple of years.

  346. John S. Eccles on August 31, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    What about primary school football ? I have been involved in running a team for over 35 years, including around 10 years of town team football. I also ran a weekend local league team for many years up to u/17 level. The problem for children starting 11 a side IS the size of the nets and the pitches on local pitches – NOT the number of players. Answer : provision of appropriately sized nets and pitches for 11-14 yr olds. THIS IS NOT A PROBLEM FOR PRIMARY SCHOOLS – they have got age -appropriate sized nets and pitches – GO AND LOOK ! Playing 9 a side means 2 less children get a game ! Don’t use subs ? Again, less children get a game. Best players who are going to develop into professionals don’t get enough touches ? Are you joking ? The better players are continually involved ! 9 aside football without offside encourages more passing ? Who needs to pass through midfield and slip the ball through a gap when a hoof through the middle can find a fast forward lurking behind the defence and through on goal ! Developing good footballers with good techniques, good attitudes, who play football in the right way and have a love of the game is down to good coaching and guidance – a full-sided match is the culmination where what has been learned can be applied. Professional clubs take children from 6 years old onwards to coach. Why are they not able to develop players’ technique etc. when they have them for so long and from such an early age ? A friend’s son was recently released by Liverpool aged 10, and has now been taken on by Wigan Athletic. He will be having three 2-hour coaching sessions a week plus matches at the weekend. Will it really hold him back if he has a few less touches in a school match ? Is it really more important that he gets those extra touches than that two more children of lesser ability are able to participate, enjoy the game – and derive the many benefits of ‘being part of the team’ that for most are more relevant than England’s ability to win major tournaments. Writing this on transfer deadline day, perhaps if premier league teams were more ready to develop young English talent instead of looking to ready-made internationals from abroad who have had the chance to develop in other leagues, this might make much more of a difference. As for the argument about not having competitive leagues structures – I’m afraid that the reality may well be less teams being run in the local leagues and less matches being played in schools. Take away the importance of the commitment to fulfil fixtures and other considerations may well take priority for many ‘busy’ teachers. Has there been research into whether in areas where there is no competitive school league, schools play regular ‘friendly’ matches instead? I do not believe the suggested changes will have the beneficial effects sought, either short-term or long-term – and I do not believe that understanding of school, particularly primary school, football has been displayed or its many differences in structure from local leagues been recognised. As someone who has spent a great deal of time and effort trying to help children to play football in the right way with the right attitude and to develop a love of the game, I hope more thought will be given to the proposals.

  347. Martin on September 10, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    I am really interested to know who on the FA council that voted the new proposals in have anything to do with grassroots youth football or youth football leagues. From what I can find out the proposals were voted on by CFA’s and representatives from Premier League Clubs and Football League Clubs. How can these people have a say in what happens to football out our level?

  348. martin lomas on September 19, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    i dont see what good it will do…fair enough smaller pitches but i watch under 11 and 12 and they play on full size pitches and if you see them you will be amazed at the quality…mixed teams and refereeing themselves is a total waste of time…we need to reward winners and help those who dont.life is about winning and in football you need to be encouraged to win…improve club facilities and grounds…

  349. Dene Stockton on September 30, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    My concern is the ages of lads playing. I coach a local team who have started playing 11v11 at under 11’s. the pitch is too big for them, so too the goals. My idea is to make as many substitutions as possible because the lads are feeling tired. i am struggling to get a full team with plenty subs to keep rotating.
    The ages for my team have not been made clear for the coming seasons 2013/2014 and 2014/2015.
    Am i correct saying the lad who has been with me for 2 1/2 yrs whom was playing a yr up last season cant play in my team for 3 seasons because of the new rulings coming out?
    We dont have an under 10’s team at our club and because his parents dont have transport its not possible for him to go to another club.

  350. Dene Stockton on September 30, 2012 at 7:45 pm

    While i think 9v9 will certainly benefit the lads and get them slowly into playing on a large scale pitch, i do think that its unfair that the age group i coach cant have any lads playing a year up for 3 years.
    This seems very excessive. I’d originally told the lad and his parents that he would have to take a year out but could still train with the team then come back in the following year. It was myself who had to deal them the blow a few weeks ago and poor lad was gutted. I had not been given much prior warning that this was likely to be the case, last year he would have been allowed to take a year out and come back in, can’t this ruling be changed so that they only have to take one year out?
    Would appreciate comments and an outcome on this, not had a definate answer yet but it does look negative.
    Regards,
    Dene.

  351. John Speck on October 10, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    Youth Football:

    It’s not about size,
    It’s not about height,
    It’s not about who can push the most, tackle the hardest, or even run the fastest,

    It’s about skill and finesse,
    Technique and timing,
    Self expression and creativity
    Freedom on the ball and individuality
    Playing the game your way, not the coaches way,

    Learning for yourself and from your mistakes,
    Its about Playing different positions, making runs and trying tricks and new moves.
    It’s about learning and trying new positions, not forever stuck in one position with boundaries and rules forever set in stone.
    It’s about invention, not domination,
    About games well played not just games well won.

    It’s for you, an 11 year old playing for fun,
    It’s not for angry adults jeering and screaming their heads off, playing at being managers and coaches & telling you off for trying a trick they could never master.

    It’s about ingenuity not injuries, reinventing the game as you play not just copying everyone else.

    And it’s about fair play, and respect, for the referee, for your teammates and for the opposition as well.

    But most of all, it’s about having the ball at your feet, not having to fight a further 21 players for a touch.

    Football as it should be,
    As it can be.

    Sent from my iPhone

  352. sr on November 27, 2012 at 10:45 pm

    enjoyable read john unfortunately will not happen, yet again my sons game on saturday was spoilt by adults wanting to be more important than the kids .

  353. Gary dale on December 10, 2012 at 12:30 am

    I have to let you know that abuse to referees at junior level needs urgent attention. I help my 17 year old son who is a Gloucestershire fa referee by running the line on Sundays,because I enjoy it,but, for the second year in a row at the same fixture we were left feeling very angry at the threats and abuse we both encountered from the coaches of both teams, we reported them last year and whilst this year they didn’t encroach the pitch we were abused by both parties, in the light of the Dutch tragedy,it’s not going to be long before the same happens here! The fa must take action now and a major respect programme must ensue as referees aren’t the enemy,they deserve respect as do gay and black players for without officials games would not be possible. I cannot tell you how vociferous I am over this issue.

  354. glenn russell on December 30, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    i run bilborough pelican fc we have a few kids teams and only 2 pitches will we be able to put a u9 team pitch inside a full,size pitch if so how long for. many thanks glenn

  355. Alan walker on February 25, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    What a shame this is going to change ,and stop young lads from playing football ,at the moment we have a squad of 20 u11s ,so we have team A and team B 7vs7 as it is everyone gets to play ,with the changes the max squad size is 14 so 6 of the boys are going to br told there is no place in football for them.
    There will be nowhere for them to go as all the other local teams will be getting rid of players too.
    This is very sad that lads are going to possibly have to stop playing football because of the changes.
    So unless people start up new teams there are going to be lots of young lads who love playing football and get great exercise from it will go back to sitting in front of the tv or xbox.
    Someone correct me if I am wrong in my comments but if I am correct what a sad time for youth football

  356. Amanda on March 4, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    My boys have both been into football for a good few years now, they don’t play for any teams any more as it was not enjoyable for them, however they have found a soccer school which they love and is truly teaching them skills, problem is trying to find other teams to play, there should be a league where teams and academy’s can enter, so it’s not just the large clubs getting to play matches, there are plenty of organisations cropping up that provide much better learning for children, but they are not getting the chance to play any matches, i also disagree with parents having to go all over Dorset to play football it leaves parents who don’t drive (with talented kids) out of the loop! I would like to see more independent leagues that teams can enter not just large clubs! And local not having to travel miles!

  357. Cameron Thompson on March 14, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    My son plays under 11 sunday league football. He is both young (born in July) and small. I have never played competitive football however I have watched my son play over a number of years and come to hold views regarding the game as a result. He plays the game because 1) He loves it 2) He enjoys playing with his friends. In my experience the vast majority of coaches in boys football coach because 1) They want to win. This disparity generally causes coaches to pick those players who can win for them now. This results in a bias of players in the top teams towards older and bigger players (size differences at this age can be huge and as a result dominate the outcomes of matches). This bias then perpetuates through the game whilst the boys grow. The end result is an unwelcome bias in the adult game with many of the most naturally talented players falling by the wayside. I welcome the changes proposed. They are a long time overdue in my opinion.

  358. rob croome on March 17, 2013 at 10:55 pm

    i think shifting age groups to calendar years is a step in right direction . why not do it for all age groups .it will develop our lads further .and get coaches away from winning at all costs.FA need to do it for ALL and not half hearted,like they have with futsal.make a difference ,make the change ,make it count,cos it seems like they have given up on lads older than the age group thats ear marked for change.

  359. PJ on March 19, 2013 at 3:57 am

    Anything that will change the mentality of some coaches has to be a good thing. This Sunday my child was shouted at agressively whilst playing in his under 8 team. The coach has a short fuse. His son and the managers son have never once been subbed, always play upfront, and have left my son on the sidelines in the freezing cold for the majority of the game. One time I travelled 20 miles to a game and my child was so upset as they kept promising to put him on then never did. One of them has his best friends son playing who is a terrible player but he never gets subbed either. When I asked the coach about it he verbally abused me and told me he was not talking to likes of me and if I didnt like it then leave, yet I am a respectable person. This coach is a disgrace to the game. I hope he is got rid of. He is a bad example to all kids.

  360. sean hellett on March 20, 2013 at 12:07 am

    I have coached a team since U7 we have now played two years U11 and U12 at 9v9. Whilst I wholeheartedly support the FA changes to youth football, it was frequently mentioned in the ‘have your say’ workshops that many EU countries keep this format up to U14 and U15. Why do we change to 11v11 at 13? The kids at this age are still too small for full size goals and the matches are long-ball games with many players getting little contact with the ball. Its a real shame we could not be more progressive and continue to coach/play in the smaller format to develop our young players.

  361. Martin on March 27, 2013 at 10:55 am

    sean hellett name me an EU country that’s playing 9 v 9 at U14’s and U15’s? You seem to have fallen for the FA propaganda crap. It never was and never will be a ‘format’ problem with grassroots football in this country. Yes U13’s are too small for full size goals and pitches but that is a ‘facilities’ problem not a ‘format’ problem. Yes much of the football played is ‘longball’ but when our kids are playing ankle deep in mud on pitches churned up the previous day by 22 full grown adults, what do you expect. The FA know our elite players need a good surface to play on, they have spent nearly a billion pounds on St George’s Park and Wembley to provide this, yet for our youngest players their best advice is “find a bit of grass” and “mark a pitch out with disc’s”. Our national body are a disgrace to grassroots football, they have no concept of, or interest in, youth football and see us only as a money making machine to finance their ego’s. Just remember we are England, not Brazil or Spain (who only managed a draw v Finland) and in football its not long ball or short ball its the right ball that is required.

  362. Dave Mitchell on March 30, 2013 at 9:09 pm

    The FA seem to have overlooked who actually organizes youth football in this country. It is Leagues who spend many hours sorting out fixtures, collating results and awarding trophies. But like going to work, without reward you cannot impose penalties. Like everyday life, without rules there is inevitably chaos – just read Lord of the Flies. The point is that without rules and regulations you can really do just as you wish. Turn up to play games when you fancy, play a 13 year old against a 9 year old. You can hold trophy competitions over 4 weeks, assuming you can find a 4 week period in this country where the weather remains favourable and all teams in the competition can play the same number of games. Truth of the matter is that already we are seeing a failure in younger age groups to play satisfactory non organized football and through the FA’s approach this is going to spread. Without Leagues and without League organizers youth football will peter out.

  363. gary on April 28, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    hi i wonder if anyone can help me my son is nine an curentley plays for a under tens team we have been told that he will not be able to play for this team next year as he is not old enuth ive always thought that you can play for older teams just not younger teams can anyone help me on this thanks very much

  364. MATT on April 28, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    The sooner this becomes mandatory the better!
    We are already 20 years years behind the rest of continent, dont lets slip further by just discussing, being negitive to change and DOING NOTHING!

  365. Michael Morton on June 4, 2013 at 8:08 pm

    Great initiatives. Clearly a lot of thought and research has gone in to this. My son is in the U7 age group and is ready seeing the benefit of this skills based approach. He doesn’t care about results, he just wants the ball at his feet.

    The England team will look a lot better in 10 years.

  366. Ray ueafa B coach on June 6, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    We are all volunteers in grassroots football ,the coaches ,the secretary’s ,the committees of clubs of the leagues ,surely us along with our kids should decide what happens with our grassroots ,
    Not be dictated to by our FA who are a money spinning organisation who can’t even pick or keep the right manager for our national team ,so get your own house in order first and ask the people who really know what is best for our kids ,30% yes 30% of player in the premiership are British ,that’s great for our game isn’t it !!!!!!!!!! So FA get your own house in order before you start looking and blaming others for your failures

    Football is for All to Enjoy ,the FA don’t own the game we do everybody .

  367. Daniel Cahill on July 14, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    My son was born 16/08/2006 which age group could he now play in? Under 7s or 8s?

  368. sunny on July 23, 2013 at 9:40 pm

    Exactly what john cartwright has been saying for over 25 years read john Cartwright football for the brave,premierskills always play small side games with safe zones and our warm ups are with a ball giving kids our unique football homework and parents has first coach,skill and brave football not one touch footie for kids tell them to express and to take players on and know when to pass and how to find space, let the kids play and enjoy

  369. chris on August 18, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    fair enough trying to sort out all this BUT one big thing is the STUPID expensive signing on fee’s from each kid!! i help coach a team of U12’s, we’re struggling for team because parents can’t afford/don’t want to pay the fee!!
    plus, now need a registered ref or get a FINE!!
    thats stupid, sort ref’s out for each team, a watched a 5v5 tournament the other day, loads of ref’s wondering around!! assign them to local teams to them, young ref’s who are just starting, be good for them!!

  370. A Larkin on September 6, 2013 at 9:56 pm

    my son is 11, is he allowed to sign for a Saturday and Sunday team or are there any restrictions??

  371. phil dodd on October 10, 2013 at 9:06 pm

    I Hadn’t given the new rulings much thought while my 14year old son was continuing to play the last three years for his local team, but I now see how the ruling is damaging the opportunities our children have. I am unable to find a club in my area who are able to take my youngest son into their team, due to the numbers of players they already have and the fact that they must now be rotated in order to actually become involved in competitive football games like they see their Hero’s do! surely this must have been foreseen? If the FA wants to improve the skills of future generations they need to put their hands in their pockets and support the volunteers who struggle to support our kids while up holding The FA’s interfering rules! otherwise they are just simply stealing opportunities!!!!!

  372. PAULINE RAWLINSON on December 8, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    Can anyone give me any ideas on dealing with the Coach of my sons under 11’s team! We’re way out of our depth with the teams we play resulting in massive defeats on the lines of 12-1 every game which is disheartning for both the young players and us the supporting parents! The coach is unapproachable and dismisses our moans with comments like ” it isn’t up for discussion!” He is losing young players that are full pf passion and enthusiasm but the coach won’t release their FA Cards so kids are leaving to go no where and us parents who have paid out £50 are very angry!! Why not realease the kids who want to leave and allow them to move on and play for another team with the passion my son gives to each game every sunday. He fell to the floor in floods of tears at the end of our lastest thrashing of 13-1 because he ran his heart out throughout the game and the so call coach could not be bothered to give a few words of comfort! The man needs sacking before the team falls apart due to more parents wanting to pul their kids out! These kids could be our future big stars so any assistance from the FA in dealing with my issues would be very much appreciated! Many thanks.

  373. keith everitt on December 29, 2013 at 5:34 pm

    i have been involved with grassroots football for 25 years. the game is falling away [mainly at 18 and over]. due an out of place fa. main & local did you know a yellow card cost £10:00 administration fee wether you play PREMIERSHIP or UNDER 8 football.
    if you get sent off it is a £25:00 fine plus £10:00 administration thats £35:00 if you are unemployed it leaves you with £25:00 out of your benefit. FA are just money men

  374. kelly on April 8, 2014 at 7:07 pm

    hi we are currently in league at under 9 s which is non competitive, its a boys/girls team , i have a girl tht should be playing at under 10 s next season , but ive been told by a lot of people she can stay at 9 s , as females can play a yr younger in a mixed team , is this true , or does anyone no if there s any rules around this please

  375. Karen on July 20, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    My son is 12 November and was playing under11s what age groups can he play for now .

  376. John Speakman on September 19, 2014 at 11:03 pm

    What an absolute load of rubbish on here about so called coaches moaning & whinging about U13’s playing 11 aside “on big pitches & big nets”. Saying that all they do is play long ball & have no contact with the ball. “Its a waste of time” I coach an U13’s & have been doing so since they were U9’s & NO ex academy players. If there coached properly & in the correct way, passing football is not a problem. My team is a delight to watch with fast flowing passing football. COACH THEM PROPERLY YOU MORONS!!!!!

  377. Darren on September 28, 2014 at 11:48 pm

    the new changes to youth football are an absolute disgrace. Where is the harm in letting the boys see their leagues results? They are kids, they are interested in results its as simple as that. As for the non competitive thing well that is unbelievable. The only people in favour of it appear to be the people who don’t understand the game. Also making kids sprint back to the half way line on goal kicks. Can you imagine Rooney having to do that every time, he would be knackered by half time. Message to the F.A …you haven’t even picked a decent national team manager in decades and now your incompetence is spreading into youth football. Leave it alone and let the kids enjoy it. They want to win and they want to see league tables and results , thats the whole fun of it.

  378. Lunaliza Pertacorta on May 11, 2015 at 6:19 pm

    Hello, my son 8 is he allowed to sign for a Saturday and Sunday team or are there any restrictions? Could anyone please will reply, thank you.

  379. Miryam on May 15, 2015 at 7:31 pm

    Hi,
    My son is 12 ,and he loves football like most of boys!I have no idea how or where to take him!He wants a team,we live in Salford!Any suggestions please???
    I take him every Saturday to the cliff,but he wants to be trained professionally,as there,they just play !Please,any suggestions?

  380. Andrew on May 19, 2015 at 10:25 pm

    should teams be streaming kids at u7 and u8 ages? I’ve heard the argument that weaker players benefit from playing with stronger! But how does that benefit the more advanced kids? Surely, kids should play with and against players of similar ability ?! I would appreciate and thoughts particularly from those with experience?

  381. Ginny Wright on May 24, 2015 at 8:58 am

    Can someone give some advice please. My son has just signed up to a new football team. The coach was very keen and kept on to us for him to join. I now have reservations that its going to be too hard for him so can I get out of contract now rather than later?

  382. Ginny Wright on May 24, 2015 at 8:59 am

    He plays for under 12’s team

  383. natalie on June 19, 2016 at 5:23 pm

    hi my son was playing for an under 11s team but the manager has asked us all to go with him to start another team so all the players are now under a new club but the money the parents made( which was nothing to do with the clubs money) we were saving for a xmas party for the boys the old club want it to start up a new under 11s team to replace us can we keep the money we made from selling coffees to bag packing at our local shops or do we have to give it to them please can someone sorr this argument for us thankyou

Join the discussion