Youth football changes to "enthuse and excite" kids

Sir Trevor Brooking

The FA’s proposed changes to the structure of youth football in England are designed to “enthuse and excite” children so that they want to stay involved in the game.

That’s the view of Sir Trevor Brooking, the FA’s Director of Football Development, who spoke to Club Website at the FA’s Your Kids Your Say roadshow in Dartford, one of 16 consultation events taking place around the country.

The governing body want to get the grassroots football community’s views on the most radical proposals for youth football since the introduction of mini-soccer over a decade ago.

The changes, which include the introduction of 5v5 and 9v9 formats, delaying 11-a-side football under under 13s and the banning of league tables for all children of primary school age.

“If you speak to the youngsters, all they want to do is have a fun, enjoyable experience of football and some of them aren’t at the moment,” Sir Trevor told Club Website.

“Whether you think they are or not, they’re not, and we’ve got to make sure that’s changed. We’ve got to encourage them, enthuse them, excite them and make them want to stay in the game.”

The roadshow provides the chance for people across the country to “feed in their views” to help shape the structure of youth football in years to come, building on the foundations already laid in the youngest age group.

Brooking: "We're doing good things in the five-to-11 group"

“We’re doing a lot of good things in the five-to-11 group. We’ve had the [Tesco] skills coaching scheme which should be expanded nationwide over the next year.

“We want to take the intensity away and get them passing the ball. It doesn’t matter about losing possession and conceding a goal in the under 8s, although to some it does so we’ve got to get the message further.

“The biggest challenge for me is the 11-to-16 age-group. That is, to a certain extent, where we’re falling off the cliff. Kids go from mini-soccer with smaller goals and smaller pitches to these massive great pitches where it takes half an hour to get from one end to the other.

“The manager thinks ‘I’ll stick two big lads at the back who can whack it the length of the pitch and that will get us out of the danger area.’ The transition from mini-soccer has been detrimental to kids making the next step, so I think the introduction of 9v9 is important.”

Brooking has banged the drum for improving young players’ technical ability since taking up his FA role in 2004. He believes the latest proposals would not only improve kids’ enjoyment of the game, but would benefit English football in the long term.

“It’s an exciting time. It’s taken a while to get here but I think the momentum is there. It’s time for a change if we want to get to a competitive level in international football.

“Arsene Wenger said that, with the English youngster’s desire, hunger and physical energy, if you could get the technical level the same as the better Europeans, he’d pick the English youngster every time. But the gap is too big.

“What we’ve got to do is get our English youngsters much better technically and give the clubs a difficult option. At the moment it’s too easy to go abroad and bring in half a dozen youngsters. So we need to raise the bar right across the grassroots.”

FA proposals receive “very positive” welcome

Nick Levett talks the audience through the FA's proposals

Princes Park, home of Dartford FC, was the venue for the fifth of 16 stops on the FA’s roadshow and, according to the man in charge, National Development Manger for Youth and Mini-Soccer Nick Levett, the proposals have been welcomed.

“Feedback so far has been very positive,” Levett told Club Website.

“The three major things around formats of the game, competition and the relative age-effect seem to be pretty well supported and understood, but we’ve had some really good debate about the rules of mini-soccer, which is great.”

Each roadshow is split into two parts: a presentation by Levett on the detail of and reasons behind the FA’s proposals, followed by a session of debate providing the opportunity for the audience to offer their views on the changes.

“If I look back 16 months ago when I started this, it’s hugely different; from asking should we play children down a year if they are little ones to summer football being something that we discussed as mandatory.

“All of these things we’ve discussed and they have evolved from the feedback from the grassroots world. I think it’s important, as a governing body, that we listen to the feedback and we try and put in place something that will work practically for them.

The feedback so far has included concerns around funding, particularly in relation to the proposed new 9v9 format.

“We openly discuss the challenges as part of the consultation – facilities and goalposts is the big one. We’re certainly making sure that there’s a funding package available to pay for goalposts, or a percentage towards goalposts, and doing our best to try and make sure we can overcome some of those challenges.

“The big thing is making sure that we support the needs of volunteers and clubs that are putting in place something a bit different to what they’ve always done.”

For those people don’t yet feel a part of the consultation process, the message from Levett is clear: get involved.

“This is the chance for grassroots people to really have their input. There are another 11 roadshows around the country, so I’d advise people to come along to one of the events and play their part in a discussion on youth football.

“We’re not going to reach every club and league in the country, but we can certainly make sure we’re as widespread and as open and accessible to them as we can be.

“If people can’t make an event, they can still email their comments to [email protected]. We will read everything on there. We won’t necessarily respond because there will be lots of comments, but we will certainly make sure we listen and take on board their thoughts.”

To view date and venue details for the Your Kids Your Say roadshow, click here.

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

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  1. Nick on May 31, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    I fully agree with the FA’s proposals, however this isn’t just about player development, it is about time grassroots football saw significant investment in good playing surfaces such as 3G’s. Better playing surfaces encourage a better standard of football and encourages players to pass the ball rather than just “lumping” the ball long each time to avoid the mud baths so many teams have to endure each week.

    Secondly, isn’t it time that Money was re-distributed from the top down to non-league clubs at Conference level so that they can start up their own youth academies and centres of excellence. No Clubs receive any funding at this level. Unless this starts to happen young local talent will never flourish and reach the higher echelons of football. Come on FA – start to put pressure on the Premier league to start re-distributing some of the wealth down the football pyramid for the good of youth football. You have started the job but you are a long way off getting money to where it is needed to improve the standard of youth football across the country.

  2. Keith Long on May 31, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    Just wondering why it is proposed to introduce a new 9v9 format. Beechfield United FC had an Under 11s team playing 9v9 in Season 2006/07 in the Timperley and District Junior League.

  3. Coach Poz on May 31, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    The road show is a good idea and I attended one recently. However, they will be a complete waste of time and money if the words and forward thinking ideas are not put into action at youth level and soon!

    It’s got to be a big concern for the future of English football that Director of Football Development, Sir Trevor Brooking, joined the FA in 2004 and we are only now looking at what is going wrong within youth football!

    Even more worrying is the fact that the Chairman of a County FA recently said to me that 5 v 5 Football/Futsal for young players is not ‘real’ football.
    Dinosaurs comes to mind!

  4. Michael MacNeill on May 31, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    Whilst I agree about encouraging players to play and taking away the win-at-all-costs mentality, which I am a staunch advocate and deliverer of, I am not convinced that changng the format will change attitudes to coaching and the winning of games. How sessions and matches are delivered will dictate more the learning experience, not the format. Working in inner-city areas, 1 grass pitch per 2000k people, all the players ever get is a small-sided experience. By having 11-a-side at schools district level at u-12/u11s gives wider learning opportunities, that don’t exist in other formats, e.g. the ability to get your head up and see a pass. Without adequate specific 9v9 facilities, these proposals could actually prevent opportunities and development (ever seen 9v9 on a full pitch?) Whilst I appreciate our situtaion is not the norm, there are a lot of young players in inner-city environments where this is and will be an issue. A rule for all and no excepetions may prove to be a barrier for some.

  5. Dave on May 31, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    FA really do not do FA.
    If you take the touchline abuse that goes on. Why can they not make it a part of Level 1 to show coaches how to behave, what type of things to talk about & what not to say, not just brush over it though, make it a large part of the course, because it is here where so many children get verbally abused, with the win at all costs mentality. Email the leagues with a set of rules for coaches, which get emailed out to all the clubs in those leagues.
    Level 1 is a terrible course and such a waste, because you have the thousands of coaches taking part every year and none of them are coming out with the right info on how to coach kids, how do I know, because I deal with them and speak to them after they come off the courses. Not one coach so far who is new to coaching I have met, can put on a session. The games that the coaches are shown are ok for adults to play, but when you have 6/7/8/9 yr olds they never react the same. I have worked with over 40 new coaches and every one of them has no idea on what they should be doing. They come off a course, replicate a drill they have done and in no time it breaks down, so the coach plays a match or asks them to pass in straight lines. That is not to say they did not enjoy the course, being on the courses are fun, but the info given out is not good enough. The FA Level 1 is the FA biggest chance of getting coaches armed with the correct information, so a complete overhaul is needed. Youth modules are far better, they would be better scrapping Level 1 and introduce all coaches to the youth modules and coaches working with adults go straight to FA L2.

    You have Trevor Brooking, never coached youth football in charge at the FA, work that one out?

    FA Tesco skills coaches, who come up with that? Lets employ 80-90 coaches to cover the whole of England. I do lots of coaching and the only time I have come across them is at youth award courses.
    Why not have regional centres and have thousands of children exposed to the coaching.

    Credit where credit is due, the new 5v5 & 9v9 formats are far better, the youth modules are educating coaches. There are some great guys within the FA, it just seems to change anything takes forever and the people at the top are not football people.

    I want the FA to be excellent, I want our national game to be recognised as the best in the world, but the FA needs to change and not take 100 yrs to do it either. Rant over

  6. David Love on May 31, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    I concur with Nick’s comments. I got into junior football around 8 years ago when my son started playing. Even then I was saying that the jump to 11-aside was far to early. Human body development is at such a varied pace for children it never made sense to go from 12 x 6 goals on a mini pitch to 3/4 goals on a 3/4 [or even larger] pitch. My issue is that this isn’t rocket science, but it has still taken the very respected Trevor Brooking 7 years to convince the FA hieracy to make the change! Why so?

    In 2006 we took my son’s team to Holland for a weekend tournament. I was amazed and shocked at the superb facilities that was present in almost every village. Various very well maintained pitches and excellent changing and social facilities. It put the English response to shame and that was 5 years ago. I haven’t see much improvement having taken place in those 5 years. Most Dutch teams of our similar age-range played 9-aside across 1/2 of a full sized pitch. Goal sizes were around 7 x 14, making much sense considering the size of the goalkeepers. The Dutch techical ability far out-shone those of the english teams.
    So, yes, the changes are very much welcomed but we still need more money [and lots of it] for better pitches at Grass roots level. When lads do get scouted from local teams to professional clubs there should be a obligatory cash payment ploughed back into the club. The local professional clubs could be far more supportive than what they at present.
    One final point. Far more recognition of the thousands of volunteers that keep the local junior football leagues going wouldn’t go amiss!
    Here’s to the 2011/12 season.

  7. Nick Ward on May 31, 2011 at 9:09 pm

    How come Grassroots football are constantly blamed for the state of the English Football game however nothing is every done to help clubs to improve standards. We are all volunteers unlike some of the players and FA officials we do not get paid for giving the youth of today a good start in their football lifes. Wouldn’t it be nice if the BIG teams in the football league and beyond game something to us for enabling us to start the process and for the bright stars of the future to go onto bigger and better things. Is getting rid of league tables a good thing ? Insuring that there are enough pitches to go around at a reasonable cost More funding for ALL not just FA Charter standard clubs !! Everything seems to start at the bottom why shouldn’t it start with the premier league. When Sir Trevor started playing football what was his upbringing like ?

  8. Simon Ingrassia on May 31, 2011 at 9:43 pm

    For me, the grassroots football calendar is what needs a radical shake up.

    At the moment the youth football season starts in the 2nd/3rd week of September (a week after the kids go back to school) Pitches and parks are normally very good or quite good at most games.

    5/6 games into the season the rains starts, the pitches then start to cut up and get a little bit boggy.

    Between mid November and the middle of January you are lucky if you are able to play more than 5 fixtures, due to councils calling games off, Xmas holidays etc.
    Those that are played, are spoilt by the as it creates a real battle type atmosphere and totally discourage kids from trying to pass on the floor incase it does not reach it’s intended target.

    January and Feb are again difficult months due to games being called off as the pitches are frozen and again, games that are played are again spoilt due to the result of the bad weather.

    You end up playing 65%, maybe more, of your seasons fixtures between march and end of April, trying to fit in double headers and midweek games just to catch up.

    Then when the sun starts to shine in May the season bloody finishes!!!!

    Anyway, you can all see what I’m getting at.

    Kids can only get better if they are regularly playing and can only pass the ball like Spain/Barcelona if they can play on grass pitches…..not mud!!!

    Change the grassroots season around.

    Start the season in March/April

    Play as many games as possible up to end of July/summer holidays, then have a 6 week break up to September. Continue the season from here by playing up to October and have cup finals/remaining league matches end of October when the weather starts to turn.

    This will guarantee that more consistent football can be plated. All on nicer playing surfaces, that encourages a free flowing technical passing game that we so desperately crave!!

    Stop talking a good game and play one!!!

  9. Keith Long on June 1, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    I totally agree with David Lowe when a scout offers a young player (either male of female) the opportunity to become part of his professional club’s academy or centre of excellence then that club should be forced to make a decent payment to the amateur club. During the fifteen years I have been involved with my club I have seen several individual team managers work hard each season and have turned average players into brilliant players. But the scout arrives and what is offered in return to the manager and the club maybe a few match balls or the chance of a tour around the professional club’s ground. A nice cash bonus would seem to be the better option. Also once a player is at a professional club then an update on his progress should be provided every few months by the scout who makes direct contact with the players Junior/Senior club Chairman or Secretary. With reference to scouts trying to lure 6 & 7 year olds towards their professional club this seems totally crazy the boy or girl should be able to play with their mates for a few more years.

  10. 'Lozz' Rose on June 1, 2011 at 11:13 pm

    Results and scorers for Under 8 games or tournaments are not permitted to be recorded or published in newspapers and websites which I think most people, perhaps reluctantly, have come to accept. However it seems that The FA is set to extend this policy for age groups of up to Under 11s in the not-too distant future which I’m sure many will find difficult to understand or even justify. If a 10-year old boy scores a try in a rugby match or takes a few wickets for his club’s junior cricket team he can look forward to having his achievement printed in the local paper or on his club’s website and reading it with pride. If the same boy though scores a couple of goals for his football team one weekend it will be against FA rules for it to be reported. I know of many kids over the years who kept scrap books from press cuttings out of the local paper of games they played providing some marvellous memories for them of their childhoods. Kid’s soon won’t be able to do this and I find that incredibly sad. For me, this is yet another case of parents’ and children’s rights being wrongly taken away from them by the almighty FA and the arrogance of those people who force these policies through continues to absolutely astonish me. If anything is going to drive children out of the game it will be The FA itself with its dictatorial and draconian attitude. Goodness me! What on earth is it coming to when a child’s sporting achievements has to be kept secret and cannot be made public and for what reason? Well apparently, to help in player development which I believe is complete and utter nonsense. As regards plans for children of primary school age only playing non-competitive friendly games every week for 4-5 years, this will eventually become monotonous and boring for both the kids and their coaches and I guarantee it won’t be long before unaffiliated underground leagues will start to be formed. As much as I admired Sir Trevor Brooking as a player I don’t believe he has ever been involved in the real grass roots of junior football and I’d be surprised if anybody has ever seen him up a ladder putting up goal nets on a Sunday afternoon yet he and his committee come up with these crazy policies. When two of the last three head coaches of the England National team have been foreign appointments surely something is wrong with the development of English coaches to an adequate standard. The FA really needs to be concentrating more on the improvement of their coaching system rather that bring in senseless rules that takes away enjoyment for the kids who are playing the game.

  11. Pete on June 6, 2011 at 9:51 am

    After reading the comments made by the previous coaches on this web page and the statements coming from the F.A. driven by Trevor Brooking and now Gareth Southgate, there are a number of obstacles that have to be addressed.
    No 1 to me is the training of football coaches and the price of completing the courses. Level 1 course i have never seen a coach fail. Level 2 is a lot more involvement, knoweledge and time consuming. I am a Level 2 coach and if it was not for my work sponsoring me to complete the course which was £250 at the time and now is £290+, i would not have been abled to do the course if it was not the support of my employer. I did this aswell in a weeks holiday that i had to take.
    No 2 the number of coucil owned football pitches that are either built on or are not looked after.
    No 3 All the leagues that the children are playing in are more interested in giving finesTeams and take money out of there club.
    No 4 CRB forms/checks for coaches or any other child supporting activities and Teaches need to be made cross fuctional. This would save time and Money.
    No 5 No child should be taken away from playing with there friends/local club until they are 12 years old by professional clubs. This will stop Little “Jack” or “Amy” and the parents from being hurt when these clubs after a 6 months say his not what they are looking for.
    No 6 referees being made acountable for not turning up.
    No 7 Parents who are aggressive be removed from the pitch by the coach and referee.

    These are just a few i can mention that need to be addresses. I have been coaching children of all age groups and adults for over 20 years and the biggest concern about changing anything in life is mind set. Most coaches that are in the game are there because there little “Jack” or “Amy” is there child and nobody else wanted to help out. Yes i agree that our game needs to change and the only way forward is to adopted better coaching methods / routines. The 9v9 game is a really good step forward. I think this should be done at under 10s, the reason for this is at under 11s the children are changing from junior schools to secondary schools and this is a major step in there educational life. 5v5 game would be great to see under 6s and 7s playing this format and under 8s and 9s playing the 7v7 format. At under 13 is the step that we should play 11v11 format this will bring the game on.

    Last comment i would like to make, remember that we are all in it to help our children and communities play Football – the game we all Love


    Pete (Rimma) Smith

  12. msb03 on June 7, 2011 at 9:04 am

    I will be attending the roadshow shortly and am keen to see what the FA’s approach is the future.

    My personal experience as a parent and coach is that the local FA’s don’t really care about grassroots football, they just pay lip service to it, but do very little to help the clubs.

    My club is in a rural area with under 6’s to u16’s, due to the lack of facilities we have to play in a number of different locations in smaller villages 3 to 4 miles from the town, so typical village recreation area used for football in the winter and cricket in the summer and used by the local kids all year round. during the winter months we train on avery old astro at the local comprehensive school 3 teams sharing the pitch for an hour so you could have 40 kids trying to use the pitch at any one time. we can only get the one slot a week as it is fully booked every evening with other clubs all trying to do the same thing.

    All the coaches without exception are parents who have taken on the team because their child wants to play football and there is no one else to do it, they have taken the FA1 course CRB etc etc but we are not “professional coaches” we are trying to do our best with very little guidance or help from the outside. We can’t all take a week off to attend the FA 2 courses or cover the expense of them, given the choice of a kit and some match balls or go on a course the former will always win.

    in essence the FA must look at getting better facilites for everyone and work in partnerships with grassroots clubs to improve the coaching and make it more flexible so that the club volunteers will take part rather than say they can’t afford the expense and time or are tied up in the miles of red tape we seem to have.

    All of us want our kids to play and enjoy their football at whatever level we need help not barriers as we seem to have at the moment

  13. Michael Thorpe on June 8, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    I have read your email and feel the need to comment. I share the views of many local people and would comment as follows :-

    I have read about the new proposals for the improvement of Junior Football with some interest
    I am chairman of a Manchester based JFC We have 14 teams competing at levels Year-1 (Under 7) to Year-9 (Under 14) inclusive as well as the Reception (Under 6s) in regular training only.
    At the time of writing, we have 151 players within those age groups. This means that we also have between 300 and 400 parents and grandparents all of whom we answer to. We have 14 coaches.
    Everyone is an unpaid volunteer. Running this venture is akin to running a small business and demands at least 80 hours per week of committee time and around 60 hours of coach time. I know that because it was easier for me to run a £20 million business before I retired from that!
    Over the past 12/18 months, 26 of our players were “scouted” by League and Premier League clubs.
    You will probably see, that, along with our contemporaries, we are very dedicated to not only teaching children football skills and providing a weekly training session and a match on Saturdays or Sundays, but to the happiness and welfare of the children placed in our care.
    We have parents who are supportive, we have parents who follow the club rules offer only “well dones” and “bad luck son, keep trying” to the children. We have others who simply enjoy watching. We have parents who have “offered up” their son to our club on the basis that “he wants the lad to win trophies” and we have some parents who stand at the side on match-days instructing their son on every move. We also have a small number of parents who, when the lad makes a mistake, perhaps takes on one too many opponents and loses the ball, who then proceed to psychologically destroy the lad in front of the listening audience scattered within 3 pitches of the one in play. But in the majority of cases we are thankful that the parents bring their children to our sessions and genuinely support our club and the work we are doing. The cases of what we term, “Child Abuse By A Dad” is being diminished through our own continued efforts.
    Our coaches, by and large, try to teach the children to have self confidence, to learn skills and to learn the importance of passing as well as to have the confidence to take on an opponent. And that through football, we are teaching them the importance of comradeship and teamwork. The club, through these measures is proud that so many children keep on coming, introduce more of their friends and clearly enjoy the experience. And that we, to use a well warn phrase, are proud that we “keep the lads (we currently have no girls) off the streets”.
    Thus anything you, the FA can do to provide support to this work is appreciated. 5×5 and 9×9 is excellent but not available where we are, but you do not mention other factors which impinge on our workload. By this I mean, we try to teach skills and confidence, but the children have to play on a virtual ploughed field, impossible conditions wet or dry, or on 25 year old astro-yurf (I thought it was concrete when I first saw it.) The ball bounces so high and both sets of conditions are ideal for the teams playing “ pub type” long ball tactics which you say needs to be weeded out. Those people who are “in it to win it” decide on those tactics to try to win the league. The league provide the worst and most appalling playing conditions for the Under 10s and upwards. They have year-one tots playing on 3G, while the year 6 lads suffer burns on the so called 25 year old Astro-turf. Don’t ask me why it’s that way round – ask the league we play in and the FA who have approved it.
    You say that you need to focus on precisely these groups (Year 6 (U11 and up) and yet this is allowed to happen. And then, just when we find the lads playing as a team, working for each other, enjoying the friendship, the comradeship etc along come the “spoiler”.
    We have all seen them. They stand at the side like vultures ready to pick the spoils. Wearing smartly badged professional club tracksuits and attire, chewing gum (of course) and expressionless (of course.) They are there to pick the spoils, to take advantage of parents intoxicated by the potential for their lad who is about to be “scouted”, and they know they have the power which they can wield to pluck the lad away from the mates with whom he has developed through more than half of his life stop him playing too much soccer so he cannot continue to be with his friends on the basis that he will be “overplayed”. No mention that it is widely reported that in Brazil they recommend lads play a minimum of 24 hours soccer a week!! And then they know that once they have assessed the chosen lad, and found him not to their liking (not big enough, not strong enough, not hard enough and takes people on when he could have passed back to the goalie and start the move again), they can simply reject him – leave his dreams in tatters send him back to us to sort out the mess. And we do. Because we care. Even when they reject (sorry, we are supposed to say release,) the lad in, say March, they tell him he cannot play for them again, but here is the rub, he cannot play for anyone else either. How cruel is that? – he is only 11 years old, for goodness sake. We have lads who have been, as they say, “scouted” who are told never to take on and try to beat an opponent through skill. Pass the ball BACK. “You could have lost the ball by doing that”. That is one example of many from a premier league club academy, by the way.
    On that basis, the remarks in the email distributed, if they apply to 9 or 10 year old and up, should surely be directed at those who run juniors squads at Schools of Excellence and Academies. That is where you will find children who are budding pro footballers, the young children “scouted” by league clubs and not actually at JFCs where I maintain there is a deep seated care about child development. Don’t forget, in the vast majority of cases that is where you will find the odd budding premier league player. Not with us any more, but scouted by them, “trained” by them and taught their trade and developed by them. The days have gone when someone like Brian Clough found raw talent probably untouched by a league club and playing for Long Eaton Town, and who he could play a leading role next week in the European Cup!

    We who run Junior Cubs are bleeded dry of talented players by the professional game by the time the lad is 10 nor 11 years old.

    So, if you are looking to improve the talent of 10 year olds, please do not look at what Junior clubs are doing, look instead at what the Academies and Schools of Excellence are up to.

    And if you really want to do something to help clubs in our position, and thus improve the junior game, give us the type of facilities which have been available for years in, for example, Holland. We need to have proper pitches – we need to operate in professionally run leagues. You talk about goal posts etc. We do need goals to be the right size and if this gets something done now then glory-be. It didn’t when we complained 2 years ago about the size of goals.
    So decent playing surfaces, the right size and with correctly sized goals are all essential to start to move forwards.
    Given these facilities, our club would make massive strides forward in short time. At the moment our greatest cost as a voluntary organization is spent in hiring better facilities. There are not many around. Generally in our area, grass pitches are operated and “maintained” by local authorities. I do not think that any professional or semi professional club would allow their players to run down the wing, let alone play, on such surfaces. The risk of ankle ligament damage would be too great a risk.
    Speaking of finance for pitches, last weekend one of our teams bag-packed at a supermarket. They made an enviable £400 in the day. I enjoyed 5 hours of counting and bagging pennies and small change ready for banking. What a far cry from the salaried staff at the FA and certainly the professional game where the biggest worry seems to be the number of top of the range cars a player owns!
    Football is definitely a “Rich Man-Poor Man game.

    It is great that you talk of improving skills as it relates to our International Game. We at JFC level have a need to provide a platform for enjoyment by all children and in particular those who love the game, love to play and belong to a club but who may never actually make the grade at JFC level. I am not sure from reading your email write up, whether you are interested in the enjoyment through football of the less skillful children. For your information, we definitely are.

    Finally, in terms of the changes you have decided to make, I refer to the one which will hinder and not help us go forward.
    You say that you will ban the publication of league tables for all teams before Year 7 (Under 12). Are you aware of the difficulties this causes for us with U7 and U8 children desparate to know how they are doing? The team nthey play on Saturday, is it higher or lower than us? For goodness sake, they want to be measured. It is normal. Secrecy is not normal. Coaches spend hours producing clandestine league tables for U6/7 and now this workload will move to embrace U9/11!!
    Already children cannot wait to go to U9 – why? Because it’s a proper grown up league with a league table.
    Surely you do not think that publication of a league table will do anything at all to help or to hinder the lads from playing attractive passing football? The way our club plays is designated by the committee of the club and the coaches carry it out. The head coach visits training and assesses whether or not the team is being taught long ball or passing game. If it’s a long ball style, then we make changes.
    The publication of the league table is irrelevant. It is simply a measure of how the style of play is converted into results against the results of others.
    Thus, if you believe that simply by publication of a league table, the style of play will change, then that is insulting literally hundreds – thousands of our coaches who have decided that the way to play is this or that.

    In summary, if the FA are prepared to work at this,–if it really is serious,–then they should get out and about and audit the way specific teams are playing.
    Carry out inspections of the method the team is using and then have the teeth to act. Maybe a positive measure would be, that once the club proves that it is playing at specific levels, in a way that is acceptable to child advancement, then this will attract a higher level of charter standard and with that, funding towards the running of the club.
    They would have to be totally impartial and this would mean that their audit staff would only inspect teams/clubs outside their home region.

  14. Alan Bridge on June 10, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    Hi having been involved in juniour football for many years the Pro clubs that come in and take
    boys at u6 is so un proffensial to let them go 3years later has a damaging effect on them my own grandson was releaased at 9years old reason
    not big enough despite his dad being 6:2 tall
    also boys from the age of 10 want to know league
    results they want to know if they can be prometed or not and how the league stands
    Alan CW u11s

  15. W.Martin on June 10, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    Both a Parent and Coach of U7 team and ref for most the U8 Teams games . . . . .

    3 Things which would help:

    (1) Get rid of goal kicks.

    All sides (including us) just push right up knowing the keeper cant clear the ball (either let em take kick from their hands or make opposition retreat to half way) – its a pain trying to coach this . . . .

    (2) 5 v 5 ????

    Its hard enough getting average squad of 10 or so a good runout in 7v7; surely this will mean clubs will only have squad size of 6 or 7 players for 5v5 format ? so less players involved from the start (unless you register 2 sides which would cost a lot).

    (3) Kids want it Competative !!!!!!!

    Get rid of this Political Correctness gone mad . . . Kids want to Win; My kids double their effort, interest willingness to learn if the training drills are competative i.e. relay races and so on . . . . thats what boys do !!! Publish results so we know what we are up against week in week and we can prepare them . . . . . oh and its the mom’s (not the dad’s) who are the biggest pain at this level . . . . . .

  16. Aaron Parkes on June 14, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    I currently work in a Family Centre and help run some coaching sessions for children and teenagers on saturday mornings. Whilst also playing for an adults team on saturday afternoons and managing and playing for a sunday league team.

    I think the new 5v5 and 9v9 are brilliant, however taking away tables seems a little strange as naturally young lads are competitive and want to win or do as well as they can.

    I recently played in a mens futsal tournament in bangor, Wales and very much enjoyed it. The size of the pitch would certainly improve close control and encourage players to move and make space for themself. Im hoping to apply futsal style training to my training sessions. I have not done any coaching badges yet, but wish to do them, however they are very costly. £250 being the price of the level 1. Maybe some of this money should be fronted by the FA or local authorities for coaches who will work with certain age groups that need coaches.

  17. Simon Icke on July 18, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    FOOTBALL POETRY WITH A POSITIVE MESSAGE…Please give the author Simon Icke full credit for his work if you would like to use any of these three Football Poems. Thank you.

    Dear Junior Football Coaches & Club Chairmans and Welfare Officers.

    You might like to use one or two of my football poems as copied below on your website. But if you do please be sure to give me the credit for my poem and respect my copyright. Thank you . Keep up the good work.

    Yours in sport

    Kind Regards

    Simon Icke

    Aston Clinton, Bucks.HP22 5HB. UK
    Unpaid campaigner & poet

    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?


    © Simon Icke, Aston Clinton, Bucks. UK

    This poem is used throughout the UK by many junior football clubs and several county FAs.

    Young versus Old in Irwell Road (Little Hulton, Salford)

    Down our Little Hulton Irwell Road,
    it’s: ‘Young versus Old’.

    Us lads don’t want to play with toys,
    we want to play football and make a noise.
    We play from morning till night;
    sometimes under the street light
    and sometimes in the garages
    for our real ‘championship games’.
    but Mrs Harrison tells us to move
    and calls us all kind of bad names…
    ‘I’ll let you know..I don’t approve!
    and she even threatens to keep our ball
    if it goes over her garden wall.
    I sometimes wonder
    if these ‘old fogies’ ever played football in the road?
    and how can we ever make it,
    if we don’t have the chance to fake it?
    We want to pretend we’re Bolton, United or City
    in fact whoever we ‘wanna be’…
    we just want to be free to play football in the road.
    Old folks if only you’d come and see
    us boys play football in the street
    you’d see real talent at every poor lads feet,
    you’d see Bolton beat United six three
    and players like Shaun, Andy, Kevin and me.
    To us there is nothing better than…
    playing football in our Irwell Road.
    Please don’t stop us because you’re old!

    © Simon Icke 2010 Aston Clinton, Bucks. UK

    This poem is written from childhood memories during the 1960s on a Little Hulton council estate called Mount Skip, (part of the ‘Salford overspill’, that was built in the 1950s). Simon Icke is also the author of Touchline Shouting ; a poem that is now used throughout the UK by junior football clubs as an example of good adult behaviour on the touchline; when watching children play the game. Simon also the publisher of Poetry in Motion Football! Football! Football! an anthology of Football poems published on behalf of Aston Clinton School in 1998 and featured on Football Poets website.


    Down our street it’s ever so neat,
    You rarely hear the sound of children’s feet.
    Tidy gardens and pretty flowers,
    No factory chimneys or towers.
    Commuters who come home in their company cars,
    That look at us as though we’re from mars.
    We are supposed to be seen and not heard,
    Dare we not say a word?
    They don’t want us to be normal kids playing skating
    Football in the road.
    Maybe it’s because they are getting old?
    Have they forgotten what it’s like to be a child?
    Expecting us to be so meek and mild.
    Did they ever kick a ball in the street or
    Make the sound of childrens’ feet?

    © Simon Icke, Aston Clinton, Bucks. UK

    This poem is dedicated to all old grumps in every road, avenue and street who has forgotten that they were once a child and played in the street. Imagine in the old days before ‘Football Schools of Excellence’ etc existed…..How would the likes of Denis Law, Bobby Charlton , Stanley Matthews and George Best of learned their skills if they had been banned from kicking a ball in the street?

    For more football poems visit:

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