FA positive as roadshow draws to a close

The Football Association’s consultation on proposed changes to youth football in England has been met with an overwhelmingly positive response from the grassroots football community.

That was the message from senior FA figures as the Your Kids Your Say roadshow stopped off at The Valley, home of Charlton Athletic FC, on Wednesday for the fourteenth of 16 events on a national tour.

Director of Football Development Sir Trevor Brooking said the proposals, which would lead to the most radical shake-up of youth football in over a decade, have been widely supported by roadshow attendees over the summer.

“It’s been very good,” said Brooking. “There’s been lots of different views but, overall, the majority of the suggestions everyone is supportive of.”

The FA’s proposals, which aim to make youth football more child-focused, include the introduction of 5v5 and 9v9 formats, delaying 11-a-side football until the under-13 age group, removing competitive league football for all children of primary school age and shifting youth football from the traditional academic year-groups to run instead by calendar year.

When the consultation period closes this month the proposals must be passed to various FA committees over the coming months before being put to FA stakeholders at the next AGM in May 2012. If signed off, the changes will become mandatory from the start of the 2013/14 season.

The FA is keen to provide time for leagues, clubs and volunteers across the country to prepare for any changes but, if the roadshow is any indication, they feel the mood is there around the country to embrace change.

Kelly Simmons, the FA’s Head of National Game described the roadshow as “really positive” and said that the FA were “delighted with the response we’ve had”.

“There’s been a lot of support for bridging the gap between mini-soccer and 11-a-side,” she told Club Website, “and we’ve had a really healthy debate about the impact of introducing competition too early and providing the right kind of environment for young kids where we prioritise development over results.”

Nick Levett, National Development Manager for Youth Football and the man behind the roadshows, echoed Simmons’ view.

“If, before the consultation started, you’d said that it would be as well-received as this, I’d be over the moon,” he said. “I thought there would be more dissenters or people against different parts.

“But we went through some of the stats from the early roadshows and 90 percent strongly agree or agree with the new formats of the game, while 97 percent strongly agree with the competition approach.

“That was the bit that staggered me. I thought there would be a real opposition to that but I think leagues are recognising the flexibility to be creative with child-centred competition, which is great.

“Around 70 percent agree with the move to the calendar year birth bias.  22 percent weren’t sure – it’s something new and they might not have thought about before. It’s not something tangible, like a game format or the size of a pitch, so I’m not too concerned about it. Only 8 percent disagree so, again, there’s good support for it.”

The consultation draws to a close this month, but there is still a chance for the grassroots community to get involved. If you live in the East Midlands or North West you could attend one of the final two roadshows in Nottingham (19 September) or Bolton (21 September).

Levett encourages people to attend if they can.  If they can’t, he says people can still email their feedback on the proposals to [email protected], where all information will be read, if not responded to individually.

But people need to act soon if they want to contribute to the consultation because, as Levett says: “There comes a time when we decide that this is what it looks like, otherwise we’ll be talking about it forever and we’ll never make a decision.”

Whilst Levett admits that the roadshow may have seen him preaching to the converted, he is pleased by the positive attitude toward the challenges faced in implementing the changes, particularly those concerning new pitch markings and goalposts for the new formats of the game.

“There have been a lot less challenges than I thought there would be. I thought that facilities were going to be the major blocker but it’s not been as big a deal as I expected overall. Maybe it’s because the people in the room are the converted ones; the positive proactive ones to try and find solutions.

“Hopefully the funding from the Football Foundation will help. With £1m over two years ring-fenced to help pay for goalposts, hopefully we can try and solve that issue.

“I think the key thing is support for the new things. Giving flexibility to leagues, providing ideas about competition that that might work.

Brooking added: “The main thing is for people not to be worried about it and frightened of the changes. We’re going to try and be sensible and not force too many things on people.  In the end, the lifeblood of the game is the volunteers, the mums and dads and everyone who are running the teams.

“Overall, the majority of the suggestions everyone is supportive of. Now it’s just making sure we deal with that sensitively, understand some of the challenges and, if there are greater concerns about one or two of them, then perhaps we take our time before introducing them. I’d like to feel that we have listened.”

Dan Pope, Club Website editor

If you would like to attend either of this week’s final two roadshows in Nottingham or Bolton, click here for details of how to book a place.

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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. Martin Wood on September 28, 2011 at 8:23 pm

    Your Kids Your Say roadshow. The FA are positive!

    Below are a couple of comments posted on the Club Website forum:

    The FA could perhaps have publicised the road show a bit more.

    I am Secretary of the Potteries Junior Youth League, one of the largest Youth leagues in Staffordshire. No one has asked us our position either. Me personally, you are going the wrong way with this, there is already talk of breaking away from our county FA if some of these proposals are forced upon clubs.

    I am involved with the Ashford and District Youth Football League and the Weald of Kent Friendly League and neither was consulted.

    Our league which is a major youth league has not been consulted. Can somebody explain why?

    Can you show me where you got your stats from? They certainly don’t tally with the opinions of players, coaches and parents in my area of the country. Judging by the postings on the Club Website forum many others don’t appear to agree with your ‘ no league tables at younger age groups’ or the ‘Jan – Dec registration year’ either. It would seem to me that ‘if you ask a carefully selected audience then you get the answers you want to hear’.

    Martin Wood

  2. Chris Ord on September 29, 2011 at 8:59 am

    Similarly to others, I am a League Secretary based in the north east of the country, involved with a “Grass Roots” League which caters for Teams from Under 7 all the way through to Under 18. We have around 570 Teams and well over 8,000 players Registered. Personally I am wholly opposed to the non-League table/results scenario, as are many of this League’s members. Simple answer: Instead of The FA being so dictatorial and steam-rolling mandatory Rules upon the Grass Roots League organisations (which, bearing in mind the sheer size and growth of this League in particular, would suggest we may have a little more experience in such matters) they should make ALL changes OPTIONAL and therefore allow League’s and their members to DEMOCRATICALLY decide which is most suitable for them. I have no problem in certain Leagues situated throughout the country deciding they don’t want League Tables/Results. I have no problem with any League’s (based rurally, in townships or in cities etc.) who decide they want 5v5, 7v7 or 9v9 formations. If it works for THEM, then fine, they should be allowed to have that, but DO NOT make wholesale MANDATORY decisions, steam-rolling them in against League’s who quite simply DO NOT believe this to be the correct method of operation. It is quite unecessary. “Your Game, Your Say” must refer to The FA as “Their Game, Their Say” seems to be the only option available. Give people the flexibility to have a common sense approach, dependant upon the best methods for their particular scenario. OPTIONAL not MANDATORY gives DEMOCRACY back to the PEOPLE involved DIRECTLY with Grass Roots football, and takes away the “you will be obeyed” policy of the decision makers at The FA who seem to have little or no grasp of the involvement of everyone concerned in Grass Roots football. How many people (policy makers) making these mandatory Rules within The FA have EVER run Grass Root Teams, Clubs, League’s? And, if they did, wouldn’t they have preferred OPTIONAL based on their experience in the game at that level?

  3. Alan Craigs on September 29, 2011 at 10:50 am

    Hi I am the club Secretary for a very large Junior club in the North East of England, Every thing is running perfectly with no negative issues, so what is the FA true agenda here we At Seaton Carew sit in the middle of two very well ran Leagues in Teeside Junior football alliance and the Russle foster, and as a club we have 22 teams, we also have close to 370 children and parents to ask the opinion of, We have asked them all about these changes (and we only found out about then after 21st September so had no chance to attend any road shows) and we cannot find any Parents or players who are pro theses changes, not one in around 370 members, so the people who where asked must have been VERY carefully selected, We have been running Junior teams in our area for over 20 years, before that their where very few Junior clubs, you could only play at school or for the Youth clubs, clubs like us and leagues like the Teesside Junior Football alliance help build grassroot’s football up, in the first place, “it is ours, it belongs to us” if you mess with it you may find out you have biten off more than you can chew, These figures the FA have need to be checked and validated, as like I said at our club it is 370 for no change and and increadable 0 (Zero) for the inforced changes, it will be a disaster.

    Alan Craigs
    Seaton Carew Juniors Club Secretary

  4. David Howe on September 29, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    I wont go into the technicalities of everything too much but suffice to say i have been assistant coach to a team in the Teesside Junior Football Alliance for 10years now and have seen the development of my children throughout this time, i have witnessed changes made from the ‘TOP DOWN’….some have been good, some have not.
    Chris Ord is right when he says, people who work at this level….generally, know best, that is’nt being dissmissive or big headed, that is just the way it is because through ‘HANDS ON’ experience, understanding of the Junior game and massive commitment to this ROOT of the game, these people, US, know best.
    I am fortunate enough to be able to remember playing football as a child, it was unrecognisable to what we have now,
    Coaches who just wanted to win at all costs,
    Coaches who just picked the biggest lads,
    Facilities that we would not even consider using these days…..
    You, The FA, may not believe it, but all of the above is generally now a distant memory and rightly so….however Football remains, and should remain a competetive sport at all levels and age groups, playing for points and rewards.
    We in England constantly look abroad for our direction and this has been proved to work in some areas in my eyes because changes to our system at Grass Roots such as qualified coaches and small sided matches have seen a massive rise in the quality of football played by our children now,
    My boys can do things with a ball i could, and still, only dream of!!
    This MASSIVE rise in standards needs to be remembered…….we are all on a long road here, hoping to produce players who can compete at the highest level, i believe it is working, i believe we still need to be patient…..WE DO NOT NEED TO MAKE CHANGE FOR CHANGES’ SAKE,
    Sometimes we have to trust ourselves to think we may have it right and to wait to be proved right,
    David Howe,
    Stokesley Juniors U16’s.

  5. Mike Gettings on September 29, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    Based on the two previous comments, quite a few leagues in the Country are opposed to a mandatory introduction, so as the poster Martin highlights, where did the statistics come from.

    From a Club perspective, we would also be opposed to the mandatory introduction.

    Redcar Town FC

  6. Graham Shaw on September 29, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    I attended one of your roadshows and asked questions to which no replies have been received.
    Where does the extra money come from for goals, pitches etc
    Where do we get extra coached from
    How will 5×5 encourage football? The b iggest lad/lass will have less players to run through and there will be less football.
    Non competative football – Sorry the players do not buy this at all.
    Listen to the masses ans get your heads out of the sand.
    You must not make this compulsary or games will fall by the way side…Allow leagues to ballot their members to allow them to choose whether they want the changes or not.
    If not you may have leagues which do not affilliate to the fA and go it alone !!!

  7. primrose hill f c on September 29, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    i dont no were there get there stats from no one has ask me or any one from our football club so just leave them alone

  8. Sarah Moat on September 29, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    Very simple as far as I’m concerned – If it’s not broken, then don’t fix it!

    It seems from the comments above that these stats seem to have been magically created to fit the argument for these changes to take place – the reality is that most coaches, parents and players are perfectly happy with the system as it is.

    Leave things as they are!

  9. Sarah Moat on September 29, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    It’s very simple as far as I’m concerned – If it’s not broken then don’t fix it!

    It seems to me that from my own experience and from reading the posts above that these statistics presented have been magically created from somewhere to support the proposals for change. Most coaches, players and parents are perfectly happy with things the way they are – no need for any changes – Leave well alone!

    As a teacher as well as Under 8’s coach the argument for changing the age groupings seems ludicrous. Regardless of when the cut off point is there will always be older and younger players within a team – the fact that this is offset between school football teams and grass roots football teams is neither here nor there!

    Sarah Moat
    Under 8’s coach
    Seaton Carew Juniors

  10. Jon on September 30, 2011 at 7:49 am

    Jon says:

    I’m certain our club with over 20 years of experience running junior football has not been asked an opinion on this. 100’s of kids and parents at our club simply have never even heard these proposals put forward until now! I can only imagine the select few who were invited along to these so called “roadshow events” were friends of the proposers. Where were these events held?
    If it’s a “child-centred approach” you are after then why don’t you ask the kids direct at school or at clubs throughout the land? See what they really want.
    I know the answer to that already, as I have asked. They don’t want it. So don’t do it. They want to play for points and receive trophies for excelling at their chosen sport. They want reward for their endeavours.
    Nothing against the 9v9 after 7v7 for a season by the way, it does cut out the big jump. But, take away the competitive side of the game? Why don’t we all just go to the beach on a Sunday morning and do kick ups for a few hours? To quote Trevor Brooking “Any skill I might have had as a player was almost there when I was 11 and I don’t see that in sufficient 11 year olds these days” I don’t doubt this Trev so what do you want to bother the 11-14 year old age band for you numpty.
    The lads come to training with us every week to practice their skills and improve technique, then they go off to the local soccer school’s and again practice some more. The really talented lads then get to the development centres and practice some more. After all that practice and hard work they get to a Sunday morning absolutely desperate to play a game of football and test their skills against lads from other teams who have done the same.
    We then witness a very good game of football between two teams trying their very best to be the best and when the whistle blows there is either joy or disappointment depending on how the game went.
    When we get beat we try harder and train harder. When we win we continue to try and excel the week after.
    I would say the people who want non competitive football/sports are really the people who don’t have that mental edge, desire whatever you want to call it, to be a top sportsman. That’s fine, drop out of the teams and go down the park to play with your friends. That’s your choice. Let the rest of us have OUR choice.
    I don’t want to dishearten you too much at the FA, but it won’t make any difference to our world cup hopes if that’s what you think. All the local football academies have the most talented kids snapped up by the age of 8 now anyway, they then STOP these kids ENJOYING the game with their friends by banning them playing for their local teams. After years of training with these super coaches they are then tossed aside for the “superstar” from abroad.
    Start at the top lads and you might one day get somewhere. I won’t hold my breath though.
    You have no rules or bottle or money to deal with the professional game and therefore your only avenue is to try and change something from the bottom, justifying your position. We have our rules, our codes of conduct, our respect barriers, our handshakes, our small sided games, our charter standard, our CRB checks, our FA QUALIFIED COACHES, our respect for referees, our finances are in order, our parents who dig deep and help out. We have everything we need thanks.

  11. John Kenny on September 30, 2011 at 8:39 am

    So the dinosaurs have finally made their weary trudge from Lancaster Gate to Wembley Stadium, and have now found the back door to sneak their archaic ideas through. Messrs Levett and Brooking its time to wake up, welcome to the 21st century. To say kids want fun and dont want to be competitive is unbelievable, try telling that to the manufacturers of xbox and playstations…….what next I wonder? Ban them from supporting lge football because its far too competitive and may lead them astray. Gents its time to take a reality check before its too late.

    I wonder if the late Cissy Charlton told her boys just to have fun would we have had our moment of glory back in 1966??? who knows??

  12. John Swindale on September 30, 2011 at 10:06 am

    I’m secretary / part-time coach for a Teesside League U10 side. I’m relatively new to junior football, and also run a junior cricket team. Alongwith our full time coach , I am disappointed that by one year, we will miss out on these changes.

    Football is an emotive and opinionated game, and so it should be.The key to this particular debate is, as coaches, what do we see as our role / aims, and fundamentally what do we want to be judged on. If it is solely to provide the children with an environment to help them enjoy themselves, (nothing wrong with that) then on the whole i think this is currently achieved. If it is to get them technically proficient and ready by the age 16 to progress in the game in the direction they choose, then we, via the current system, are under achieving. Why arent there tens and hundreads of Jack Wiltshires popping out at the end of the system. ?

    I dont understand how coaches can argue that the change in pitch sizes, players per team etc that are proposed will not help in this way. The posts i am reading anti the changes dont really seem to touch on the nitty gritty techinical aspects of the proposed changes themselves, but seem to reflect more on the way the proposers have gone about their business. Granted, a lot of hard work (un-paid) goes into Junior football, however whichever walk of life we are in, when someone points out that things could be done differently, and possibly better, the automatic reaction shouldnt be defensive. I have spoken to maybe six coaches of other teams since these ideas were draft published, and i havenet heard one who is against the ideas, particularly the 9 V 9 transition. I dont think therfeore that it should be portrayed that everyone to a man is against the proposals.

    To give clubs and individual leagues the choice will basically mean it doesnt happen, because the work/expense involved will be portrayed by the local decsion makers in a negative manner. I think we risk missing a great opprotunity here. It wont necessarily lead to the creation of a consistantly winning England national side, but might just make matches from junior league right through to the premiership a much more enjoyable spectacle, and god forbid to ultimately see more home grown players and not johnny foreigners making a technical difference and becoming the match winners in league/premiership games. .

    On the non recording of results, i dont have a strong opinion either way. However, I know from my time at this level that its parents/coaches who tend to discuss league positions, and not the children. By having league tables, i think it gives coaches temptation to stick with their best side for longer in games, possibly the full game, in order to secure a result, (thus limiting the exposure to game time for the more peripheral squad players.) This cant be right. Even without recorded results and league tables, i cant remember seeing a junior game where it was not played in a competitive manner. This is in childrens genes, and does not depend on there being a league table at the end of it.

    Keep Debating.

  13. Nick Matthews on September 30, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    I would like to start off by saying that i find most kids are motivated and phsyologically driven by wanting to win. Whether it be on the playstation, x-box, out in the street having a sprint race or even eating the more food than their brothers/sisters at the dinner table just to be the winner. To think about removing this competitive edge from grass roots football i believe would definately effect the youngsters attitude/performance/effort/attendance on a week to week basis. If your team is losing and theres 5 minutes to go, knowing theres nothing at stake but bragging rights, i would reckon most kids would think whats the point? we arent going to win anything at the end of the day so why bother putting the effort in for these last 5. However, you would like to think kids would want to give 100% in everything they do but we all know that it doesnt always work like that and certain character need alternative motives such as points on the board/ having cups to win/ trophies to win/ medals to be won etc. It will also build up a players character i believe, we all want the youngster to enjoy themselves and have fun, this is the most effective way of learning when theya re so young however, i do believe they should be rewarded for achieve such goals and improving so much. Watching their idols on match of the day every week, ultimately aiming to win the titles or win the cups or get into europe, the youngster may ask themselves, well why dont we have anything like that to play for? i want to lift a cup, win top goalscorer, win promotion, win a penalty shoot out and win the cupm, the list is endless. I live by the quote you get back in life what you put in, and i believe kids should realise this from a young age, rather than improve, get better and yet not to be rewarded with anything at the end of each season up untill the age 13, when maybe some talenmted youngster have fizzled out from the game to play an alternative competitive sport which they can compete in and achieve things in. Therefore ENGLAND will be losing potentially talented footballers at such a young age. As for the 11-a-side changes which maybe made, my view is simple. Moving to 11-a-side at the age of 10 is ideal. Kids by this time are now entering a new stage of learning in their life as they prepare themselves for the big school within 12 months, basically growing up in life and making that next step. Every team will have to deal with the problem of explaining left backs, rights back, centre halfs, wingers etc and the shape in which different formations are required to be played and each individual position and their jobs. But at the end of the day, the game which they are all preparing themselves for and which is played week in week out worlwide is 11-a-side, gaining good knowledge at an early age can only be an advantage right? My teams first year at 11 a side was disastrous, rock bottom, 0 points and relegated. I had lost several players prior to the season and went o soccer schools to rebuild my squad, saw some raw talent, took 1 year to groom them, missed out on promotion last season by 1 point, and sitting at the top of the league this year. 2 years and the improvement is massive. Fitness as out problem in the first year and now we have that down to a tea. Positionally and technically we were fine and the kids took the informatuion in no problem, then the technical aspects took over such as set peices which we now also have down to a fine art. No matter what age they are, all it takes is time, effort and practice. The age which is in place now is ideal i believe, gives them 1 year to learn it before they hit the school at which they can compete for county trials, school league, county league which are all 11 – a- side. Hope you can appreciate my points of view and hopefulyl you will consider them dearly. Thanks for your time.

  14. Derek Hartas on September 30, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    Apparently I am lead to believe that the reason behind all the proposed changes is that Trevor Brooking believes that our kids are not as technically gifted than those in Spain or Portugal. Well as someone who has watched every World Cup and European Nations Championship since 1962 I can tell you that part from the last couple of International Tournaments the Spanish have just about been the first team home each time and the only way Portugal can progress is to beat England on penalities perhaps we should concentrate on teaching our kids how to take penalties. I believe that I speak for many people who are actively involved in grass roots football when I say that I give up my time to provide football for boys and not boys for football.

  15. Andy PTJFC on September 30, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    I think some of the proposals have merit, but the majority do not.

    Football is a competitive sport, well it’s a sport therefore it has to be competitive. Kids know this, even a friendly kick about in the park becomes competitive the vast majority of the time. A number of people on this discussion have mentioned ‘if it aint broke don’t fix it’, but what if you could tweak it to make it even better?
    I think we have the majority of it right already. The mini soccer (7v7) – am I allowed to call it soccer these days?? – and friendly leagues for u8s and below = GOOD. But the jump from 7 a side to 11 a side is big and we see many clubs dropping players because they ‘aren’t good enough for their team’ (squad of 18-20 for 7 a side, squad of 16 for 11 a side) and that isn’t good for the kids or the game (we didn’t turn any player away when we jumped up 2 seasons ago and rotated the squad as best we could, some left some more came and we maintain a squad of 18). The proposals for 9v9 are a great stepping stone, especially when you look at the poor goalie going from a 12’x6′ goal to a 21’x7′ one or even a full size 24’x8′ (guess where my lad plays). It will keep more children involved as you will actually need at least a couple more players for your squads.

    The argument regarding the format being the same for school and clubs doesn’t really wash as we have a really bizarre situation on the West coast of Lancashire. At primary school they are playing 8v8, 2 teams from years 5 and 6, but at high school (year 7, which is all I currently have experience of) they are playing 7v7!!!! So from having around 30% of the children involved (20 out of 64ish) they have gone to 11% (18 from 160+). Where’s the logic in that? (Private rant over)

    As for the whole age cut off proposal I think that is just a diversion from the rest of it, as a previous poster said it makes no difference as you will still have some born on December 31st and others who are born on January 1st,, virtually a year older. No different to now.

    But as others have said we knew nothing about the roadshows and weren’t asked for our opinion.

  16. Tony Osborne on October 1, 2011 at 12:03 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.

  17. Steve Cook on October 1, 2011 at 12:07 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!

  18. Come On England on October 1, 2011 at 12:13 am

    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!!!

  19. Martin on October 1, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    John Swindale wrote: The key to this particular debate is, as coaches, what do we see as our role / aims, and fundamentally what do we want to be judged on.
    No it isn’t, the whole point of my posting is to ask where th FA got their stats from. They are quoting figures of 90 and 97 percent in favour which as I said previously to not tally with my findings or those of other posters. The FA are using these figures to try and force their changes upon us and I am sorry but that is not right!

  20. Mike on October 2, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    Oh dear, I don’t know which to be more concerned about with Sarah Mote’s comment – Quote – “If it’s not broken, then don’t fix it” the fact that she is a teacher AND an Under 8’s coach is both worrying and short-sighted.

    I don’t know what football you have been watching for the last 10years+ but it certainly is broken and certainly needs fixing.

    Parents and volunteers do and are being commended for their work but also need to think about their contribution to the game as a whole. We can’t stand still, the rest of the world certainly hasn’t.

    Volunteer or not, everybody has a responsibility to the boys and girls involved to make the game enjoyable first, listen to what THEY are telling us and make a positive step change to youth football and youth development in England.

    We need to ask ourselves what do we want from the FA? Implement the changes without any consultation at all? Don’t change anything?

    On my first coaching course a number of years ago the head coach said “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got.” and I have heard this on a number of occasions since, usually in the context of youth development in football.

    What we have done and what we have always got is players lacking skill, game sense, the ability to play under pressure with little time, the ability of back players to bring the ball forward comfortably, the ability to play football ‘through the thirds’, the ability to play without fear and ultimately the ability to totally enjoy and have a lifelong love for the game.

    The coaching and supporting of the game is limited, restricted and controlled by adults who’s primary purpose seems to be the participation in a miniature, mirror image version of the Premier League.

    Coaches, Managers and parents acting like ‘puppet masters’ instructing practically every touch of the ball – “pass it”, “get rid of it”, “row z”, “play it simple”. How are players going to develop their own game style, own game awareness and ability to play under pressure when they are being given constant (and mostly) negative, ill-conceived and ultimately incorrect instructions from the sideline.

    The reason we don’t develop players who are not as skilful as our continental counterparts and ultimately why England don’t succeed at major tournaments is as a result of the junior football structure that ADULTS have created and say isn’t broken!

    The adult focus on league tables means the primary focus is get the ball forward as quickly as possible to the big, strong or quick lad up front. By the time the rest of his peers start growing also, the big/quick/strong lad will not know how to play the game with skill and will be lost to the game and for what reason? To win a league at U10’s and for the coaches and parents to be able to say “We won the league and little johnny got a (crappy £5) trophy for winning.”

    Give me a break. Take a long hard look at yourselves and ask “Why do I want to coach/support/volunteer/run a league in junior football?”
    The only answer(s) to this should be – fun, fitness and football development for young people not for you.

    This rubbish people are spouting about the lack of league tables is because the FA want to make it nicey-nicey non-competitive is complete ignorance as far as I am concerned. Kids will ALWAYS be competitive when they play the game of football. They will still know at the end of the game whether they won or lost, they will still know if they played well or not. The only difference is it won’t be recorded for parents and coaches to be able to say “We are top of the league ” in the pub or at work on a Monday. The FA’s proposals are ‘child-centred’ competition. That means they asked the children, not the adults and the overwhelming response was league tables were not a primary concern for young players.

    I bet I can ask any coach of an U8’s to U14 where they are in the league and they could tell me in an instant. However, if I asked them how has your right back improved as a player, what are you going to do to develop your teams ability to counter-attack when they win possession, can all of my defenders use a skill to safely beat a marker, can my goalkeeper distribute from his hands and feet, short and long. Probably more importantly how is the lad who has been on the bench for the last four weeks going to improve AT ALL because the league position is so damned important!

    Get a grip, get on with it and listen to the people who are most important – the kids, why they want to play, how they want to play and give them that life-long love for the game that will ultimately give us the next generation of coaches, parents, referees and other volunteers.

  21. Mike Cherrington on October 3, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    It sounds a bit similar to participating in schools sports day, where there are no winners or losers. Throughout life there are winners and losers and competition is a good thing if it is played in the right spirit that encourages all children to improve and for coaches to see their development over a long period of time.

    Once a child is in year 5 and 6 at Primary School I believe they should play competitive 9 a side matches with a league structure. When children reach senior school in year 7/8 they are capable of playing 11 a side on a three quarter size pitch as this further progresses them.

    From year 9/10 young people can surely play on a full 11 a side pitch. We need to get away from participation for all and everyone can be a winner as this mentality obviously translates to the England team.

    I am also alarmed and disappointed that so many young players achieve academy status and seem to move from one to another. Surely we don’t have that many exceptional David Beckham at our disposal or is it a way of making money out of parents who want to believe their child can be the next Wayne Rooney.

    I dont believe building up the hopes of so many children that they can be professionals is very healthy as it is saying most of us can make it when in reality only a few can. These academies also shatter many children as young as 9/10 when they are released.

    Surely we should enable these children to be playing for their local team with their friends and putting money into community clubs by strengthening primary school leagues and not just relying on dedicated and committed volunteers to do the FA job for them.

    Lets focus on techniques/skill and equip[ing young players over a long period to be able to cope and perform and be comfortable on the ball.

  22. Paul Stalker on October 3, 2011 at 11:56 pm

    A quote from the above from Trevor Brooking

    “The main thing is for people not to be worried about it and frightened of the changes. We’re going to try and be sensible and not force too many things on people. In the end, the lifeblood of the game is the volunteers, the mums and dads and everyone who are running the teams.

    The relevant point is that Grass Roots football is run by volunteers, yes those who want to do it without reward other than by what they are achieving – to some a win is an achievment, to sum a defeat is the result to build on for the future, you take them away and what understanding does anyone have, particularly a child who is looking for guidance to succeed in the sport they love.

    The second point is ‘we are going to try and sensible and not force too many things on people’ right ! Where is the sensibility of taking away something that is the liveblood of sport – any sport – the art of winning, not at all costs but with a sense of acheivement.

    Finally – Mr Brooking says ‘I’d like to feel that we have listened – before we introduce them’ – well thank you very much for listening, taking everything on board and then still doing what YOU feel is right !!

    The art of listening is to use ears, yes, listen to what people are saying, think about what has been said, maybe even write it down just in case your memorys going, then act on it, not just to ignore it. Ignoring will not make this go away.

    PLEASE listen to the the huge majority of volunteers, mams, dads and participants in the local GRASS ROOTS game and leave them to run the game they know about.

    As a Chairman of a Junior League based in the North East of England, and involved with a local club with 10 Junior teams from Under 7 – Under 16, Yes, im still worried and im still frightened, not about how we do things, but how the GRASS ROOTS game is thought about at national level. We all need guidance but dont guide us down YOUR path.

    It isnt broken here, with increases in number of teams, players and coaches, dont fix us !

    Paul Stalker
    Whinney Banks YCC Juniors

  23. shaun quirk cfjfc on October 4, 2011 at 8:43 am

    some of these proposals are just too far fetched to be true im sorry but this non competitive up to u13 is crazy if i were to take my 2 yr old daughter to the park with a ball she would want to beat me its as simple as that we are told its too demanding yet why is it that school football is now on the increase after the fa asked for it to be reintroduced due to lack of participation my 10 yr old son is due to take part in the national school championships oh sorry ( kick about ) i think not FA get a grip the sooner we teach these kids pride commitment skills and not only how to win but also how to lose the better shame the england senior team cant say the same instead of excuses when they mess up in the majour comps

  24. john smith on October 4, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    i am very puzzled by all this, the f.a are wanting to change the way grass roots junior football is been operated, WHY i ask my self, i have attended a number f.a lead courses/work shops and we get told how important us clubs/ coaches/ junior youth leagues are to the development of young players, so why dont people listen to whats being said (listen to us for a change) , why should we get the sharp end of the proposed changes, it is not the grass roots level that needs the shake up, this talk of non competitive football is almost an insult to the game it self…. why should us real people be made to suffer on the back of these proposed changes just because our national team is not producing at the minute because that is were this has come from….we do our job we coach these kids week in and week out and some then go to the next level ie; the pro clubs, then thats were the problems start and CERTAINLY NOT AT OUR LEVEL, is it grass root footballs fault that these pro clubs are ran by owners who bring young players from other countrys then freeze our players out. arsenal are the example of that!!!! thats the level were football is failing AND not at our level.. stop the influx of players from europe and then you might get some where…….. the next generation of england players coming through, wellbeck, jones, cleverley, smalling,walker, hart, johnson all spring to mind all top class players!!!! they come from playing competitive football at a young age did nt they… YES they did!!! its time people got into the real world, and come and see what fantastic work goes on at grass roots level, why try and change SOMETHING THAT DOES NOT I REPEAT DOES NOT NEED CHANGING!!!

    i agree with the comments made to date and and i am 100% against the proposed mandatory rule change!!

  25. Kian Hood Age 8 on October 4, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    I like to win and don’t like to lose, I want my games in a league so I know if we are top so our team can work even harder if we are not. I like my team because we are all friends and making our team smaller means that some people will not be able to play every week and then they might not want to play anymore. my dad says that we don’t have enough quality footballers in our England team because we don’t give children chances to play competitively from a young age.

  26. Michael Roe on October 4, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    I have been a coach at bishop Auckland st marys for 10 years i,ve coached most of my team since they were 4 can you imagine the reaction i,m going to get from these kids when i say because of the new age catagories i,ve got to split my team up and start again they,ll be devastated so will i.I for one don,t believe the Fa when they say they,ve asked hundreds of people regarding these proposed changes.What actually does Mr Brooking and co hope to achieve by bringing these changes in,its the professional clubs and their accademies that are failing not us grassroots clubs.The tjfa and russell foster leagues are run brilliantly and i for one no that kids love playing in leagues and for cups kids by thier very nature are competative thats a fact.The 9 a side transitional period is a good idea and maybe starting at 5 a side is fine but taking away the leagues and cup competitions is wrong.I think that there could probably be a break away association formed .Well i hope the Fa come to our club and tell my kids they can,t play together after 6 years cos they,ve changed the rules i know what reaction they,ll get.

  27. Steve Mckiernan on October 6, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    Grassroots football at junior level is thriving. The club at which I am secretary has squads from u6 to u16 and demand grows year on year.
    The demand from young players however is not met by the supply of adults willing and able to coach these enthusiastic young people. parents seem to think that, like school, it is the responsibility of someone else to teach their kids.

    The grassroots level is Ok and the FA should stop meddling. There are not enough facilities now and the expectation that clubs can find another size of pitch for 9v9 is a joke. The grassroots level has been blamed for the demise of the game at international level for England. How they can think this when the cream of local talent is devoured by professional clubs by the age of 8 is also laughable. My club is producing players who will enjoy local football into adulthood. The professional clubs produce England players not my club.
    Respect is a great concept. However until it is seen to apply to players and coaches in the premier league then forget trying to make it work at lower level. When cameras can show the despicable neil warnock swearing at officials when he disagrees with a decision and no action taken then the rest of us have no chance.

    Build some facilities and stop meddling.

  28. Neil Parker on October 7, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    I am Club Secretary for TIBS FC currently ‘Club Of The Year’ in the Teesside Junior Football Alliance.

    In the last 14 years we as a club have been created, grown and flourished under the current FA/TJFA rules and now boast 15 teams with 200 kids playing in a structured format with competition very much an integral part of its success.

    To make such wholesale proposed changes to the current set up would create many problems for us as a club, so much so that it would jeopardise our future.

    One major issue would be how do we attract players, Managers, Coaches, Committee when competition is not allowed for until U12’s?

    We have U7’s and U8’s who can’t wait to reach U9 to have their team listed in a league (top or bottom) with goalscorers names published in press and websites.

    Competitive leagues provide the measuring gauge to a person, team or a club. How else can something improve if the tool for measuring is removed?

    That is not necessarily a tool to measure the best team or club but also for people who want to select a team or club based on their ability so they are comfortable at that level.

    Find the level a kid is comfortable at, gain confidence and enjoy their football. Without the barometer of a league table a kid could end up at the wrong level, get disheartened and never experience all the emotions of football.

    Even the education system has introduced league tables to measure and improve, teachers may not like them, but nevertheless their purpose is too focus efforts towards betterment.

    I fear your proposals to remove competition is a backward step and will mean less kids, Managers, Coaches and parents will be attracted to grass roots football.

    Other changes on 5v5 and 9v9 etc… may reduce interest in football because one of the attractions kids want to do is emulate their role models in the professional game and play 11 v 11 as soon as they can. Yes accommodate different pitch sizes and goals to suit their age & stature but to prevent them from being a Rooney or John Terry until an age where Role Models lose their attraction (U13 & beyond) is missing a trick also. Trust me by 14 lads have formed different opinions on Role Model footballers.

    I would echo the sentiments of Chris Ord at the TJFA when he says some of the proposals may suit certain areas of the country or parts of the game, but why not make the changes ‘optional’ not ‘mandatory’.

    We have a good thing going on in the TJFA area. It doesn’t need me to state it, the numbers of participants back it up. Don’t spoil it.

  29. Simon Barker on October 7, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    Kids benefit from being part of a team,even at primary school age being
    “signed on” by their local club,gives them a sense of worth,loyalty,
    motivation and discipline.
    Values which too often are overlooked in today’s schools and society in
    They will also develop friendships which will last a lifetime.

    Merely turning up for an informal kick about on a hot Summers day,(or
    perhaps not if the weather is so warm that the beach is a better option)will not develop ANY of these qualities.

    How can children and parents with no formal affiliation to a club be
    policed,how do we make sure our club grounds are safe not having the knowledge of who “our parent’s are and who are strangers???
    What will happen to the codes of conduct currently entered into
    by parents of registered players to ensure they know and acknowledge what is expected of them at junior football matches??

    The idea of turning up each Sunday to play in unregistered teams is
    going back to “jumpers for goal posts”.

    These proposals particularly for the younger age groups will make volunteer based NOT FOR PROFIT local football clubs indistinguishable from the FOR PROFIT weekly soccer schools where the primary concern for those that run them is making a living not providing a community service.

    How will clubs fund their teams with no idea from week to week who will
    be motivated enough to turn up to play and therefore no idea how much
    “sub” money will be available !!

    If our government deems it necessary to better our children’s education by putting their performance academically (via their school) into league tables then why not their football.
    Life I’m afraid is about competition,competition in the right controlled
    environment is healthy and our children do benefit from it.

    As our professional clubs seem to be allowed to generate such intense
    individual competition between kids as young as 9 as they vie with their
    piers to be retained into the next year’s academy,then why shouldn’t we
    at local level encourage team competition???

    This is a shortened inarticulate version of the feelings that ran through my head after reading the ill conceived report and published aims of this initiative,that if adopted WILL result in the decline of local junior football,to the detriment of our children’s health and well being and in the longer term our national game.

    Simon Barker

    Manager and Parent TIBS FC Teesside Junior Football Alliance

  30. jeff on October 7, 2011 at 11:27 pm

    All this talk of teaching kids to be winners etc is complete nonsense. Look at the team who is top of your division at any age group and they will be the team that poached all the best players from other teams, its really that simple.Ask their manager to look at his team and count the players who started out at another club. Next you will tell me that they have the best coaching and facilities etc , this is also nonsense in most cases. Kids cant win adult games which to some people involved in junior football is what it is there game. The way forward is to have central venues take all the kids on a saturday morning give them a bib and whoevers team they end up on they just play the game. Then it really deosnt matter if you win or lose because next week you wont be on the same team.

  31. Richard Morrison on October 10, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    I am a coach and Manager of a U9 team and a dad. We played last year under the non-competitive rules and everyone of my players and parents could not wait for this season to start due to it being competitive.Every game of football is competitive if it wasn’t why do we have goals????. The problem in my eyes is the fact that an Acadamy can take a 8yr old away from his friends playing good football in a good league and isolate him/her by not allowing them to play for anybody else THIS is the area that the FA need to look at.Acadamys should not be allowed to take a child untill they are at least 14yrs old let them play and enjoy the game with their friends, at the end of the day they are still CHILDREN. Look how many players are now breaking through into higher leagues after playing 5yrs or so in the local leagues .The idea of 9V9 does sound like a good idea BUT where are we going to get the extra pitches and goals not every team has the finacial backing of a lottery grant we have to raise our own funds. PLEASE let us run OUR teams and leagues and YOU run YOURS.

  32. Lee Shackleton on October 11, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    I am Club Chairman and Welfare Officer for Bilingham Town Juniors.

    Our Club provides football for children of all ages, and we are able to provide exit routes into Adult football for both Men and Ladies. The Club has grown to our current position through hard work by numerous volunteers delivering everything in a safe environment with a common sense approach.

    All rule changes or practices that we adopt as a club would never become mandatory until we had agreement of all the volunteers. The very people that have helped build the club to where we are today.

    To make Mandatory changes to the current set up would create many issues for us as a club, so much so that it would jeopardise our future.

    We have U7′s and U8′s who can’t wait to reach U9 to have their team listed in a league, to see their team name along with their own team mates names published has them all buzzing at a training session. Your MANDATORY change is going to deprive them of that to be replaced by ??????????.

    Schools, Colleges and universities under the Guidance of OFSTED now produce league tables so that these establishments can better themselves in the future. Isnt this similar to what the FA is saying, we want to better the football future but we must REMOVE the competitive leagues.???

    Children want to be the next Football Superstar, they look up to the players of the England National team, the premier league teams etc etc. Maybe the FA need to look at this aspect of the game rather than 5v5 and 9v9, changing the football year etc etc. Junior football clubs and society would definetly benefit if Children saw a respectable role model on a Sunday afternoon. Not somebody that swears and has a total lack of Respect towards Match Officials.

    Wonder what the next Barmy rule Changes will be if/when England fail in the next Major Championship.

    Come on Guys dont fix what isnt broken. Lets be positive about the fantastic stuff that currently goes on in grassroot.

    Lee Shackleton
    Billingham Town Juniors

  33. 'Lozz' on October 12, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    I have been secretary of a large junior club in the Blackpool area for 40 years and I also managed / coached teams for 34 years. There is no doubt in my mind that should some of these FA propoals become mandatory, particularly the non-competitive proposal for children up to the age of 12/13, clubs and leagues will be withdrawing from their county affiliations in droves. Kids want a ‘buzz’ from their sport and playing nothing but friendly fixtures for 5 years will become meaningless, pointless and boring. Many kids could finish up leaving the game to take up other sports which offer more challenges and more of a ‘buzz’ for them. If The FA wish to implement these changes in academies and centres of excellence fair enough but don’t take away the fun for the 400,000 kids in the UK who play in youth leagues because statistics prove that the number of these children who will go on to play pro football is less than one per cent. It’s like using a steam roller to crack a brazil nut. The FA is a dictatorship and is trying to play God to children and their parents and the problem is that most of the people who come up with these barmy ideas have never actually been involved in the real grass roots of the game, the youth leagues. Has anybody ever seen Sir Trevor Brooking or Gareth Southgate up a ladder on a Sunday putting goalnets up?

  34. Martin Wood on October 12, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    Come on then FA. Lets have some answers. Where do you get your 90% and 97% stats from. This is an open forum, take a look at the comments left by ‘Grassroots Football People’ from all round the country. It seems to me that you have asked ‘Loaded Questions’ to ‘Selected Audiences’. Let the people truely involved in the grassroots game get on with what they are good at. Make your proposals OPTIONAL and let the Players, Managers and Clubs decide how THEY want THEIR leagues to operate.

  35. Steve Alderman on October 13, 2011 at 11:00 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. They are naturally competitive anyway at this age why try to stop that?

  36. Nathalie Green on October 13, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    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.

  37. G.Larini on October 18, 2011 at 7:43 am

    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 6 or 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.

  38. Alan Greenwood on October 21, 2011 at 10:47 am

    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.

  39. Philip on October 21, 2011 at 11:27 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 road its what you want not what we want

  40. Berni Borsberry on October 25, 2011 at 10:37 am

    I am secretary of a large junior football club as will as coaching an under 13 girls team….why do we want to fix what is not broken. If Sir Trevor Brooking needs to implement change to improve the outlook of our national team then implement these changes at the academies of the professional clubs. Our role at grassroots is to give children of all abilities the opportunity to play football with their mates. How then can the FA implement the calendar year age grouping where the children will socialise with their school friends but be expected to play with relative strangers at the weekend. I have been to the Nick Levett road show and in my opinion theses changes are a “done deal” but at least I had my say

  41. Gary Fitton on October 29, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    Do the FA know how ridiculus the age groupings section sounds. They complain september – 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.

  42. Colin Godridge coach on November 2, 2011 at 5:31 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).

  43. John M. Smith on November 14, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    What a sad, sad day to see the English Football Association proposing to take such backward steps in junior football in this Country.

    Over the past forty years or so the quality of the football and general organisation has made rapid strides forward in football at the grassroots level, primarily because of the committment and dedication of the thousands of voluntary workers and parents who spend countless hours, days, weeks, months,years , etc in making sure that the children have a sport and pastime that they can participate in. There has also been excellent guidance and assistance from the County Football Associations in England given to assistance in this development at grassroots level.

    Why, oh why, does anyone wish to now abandon what is an excellent working model in grassroots football?

    To all the ‘suits’ at the F.A., please listen and talk to all the league and club secretaries and officials around the country.They are the people who can appreciate the damage that these proposals can do to junior football.

    John M. Smith,
    Founder Teesside Junior Football Alliance

  44. Guy on November 17, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    Fully support the 9v9 proposals.

    I’m against not having leagues until 11. While it is all about participation, from about 9 years old its right that kids understand the world (and football) is a competitive place.

    Managed right, competition does not destroy enjoyment. We are bottom of our division (whichin turn is the 4th in our league) but I still have the full squad wanting to play each week. The league tabnle provides a focus and helps the kids take it seriously and helps them mature on and off the pitch.

  45. M Wood on November 17, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    Am for certain proposals and changes but 5 x 5 would mean splitting into two teams and this would be difficult as would require more pitches ,managers and time consumed. 7 x 7 is better and then onto 9x 9 at u10,u11 and u12s then onto 11 x 11. Girls allowed to mix upto u14 level only. Smaller clubs like mine have limited pitch area availability and there are plenty like ours and we depend on schools. More pitches more games means more moneyto fork out.we are struggling to get money and sponsors now.
    Our league TJFA start competitive leagues at u9 as per you the FA instructs yet the younger kids are always asking why they cant have there reults and named scorers in the local papers. They dont mind losing but want some recognition. Life is a competition and everything else that goes with it whether we like it or not. Some things do need to change but not everything. If its not broken then dont fix it.

  46. M Wood on November 17, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    these changes will cost money councils around the country are cutting cost it should be up to the junior league committees what changes the wish to make and not the national fa or county fa telling them this is what your junior league will do because we know best a servey can be misleading

  47. M Wood on November 22, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    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 8). 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 losing. 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 on 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 children play on cut up pitches?! 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 as 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.

  48. M Wood on November 30, 2011 at 10:47 pm

    I’ve been involved in junior football for 40 years now and what really bothers me is that the main people behind these changes are people who have never been involved in the real grass-roots of the game. I bet nobody has ever seen Sir Trevor Brooking or Gareth Southgate up a ladder on a Sunday putting up goalnets. I have to ask if all this re-structuring of the kids’ game really is for the benefit of child development or is it to try and enhance England’s chances of ever winning the World Cup again. Over 400,000 kids play in youth leagues in the UK of which less than 1% actually go on to make a career in the professional game.

    Most kids like competitions, tournaments, leagues and cup competition but all this will be taken away from 398,000 of them just for the sake of the 2,000 or so who may become players, It’s like using a steam-roller to open a peanut. I have no problem with academies or Centres of Excellence adopting these changes because they have got the so-called more talented kids on their books. Just let the youth leagues run their affairs how they want to, not how the FA wants them to because hardly any kids playing in youth league will become pro footballers.

    Kids and coaches will become bored with playing endless and meaningless friendly games for years on end. They want more of a buzz and I think many will take up other sports to seek that buzz and a challenge that football won’t give them.

    I believe it is inevitable that before too long non-affiliated leagues will spring up around the country so that kids can achieve more of a challenge without the restraints of the FA who seem to want to play God to children and run their lives. Sir Trevor and Co. will be telling kids what they can and can’t have for breakfast next

  49. M Wood on December 5, 2011 at 12:27 am

    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.

  50. M Wood on December 15, 2011 at 10:26 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

  51. M Wood on January 3, 2012 at 4:39 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Chris Bird, Mansfield.

  52. M Wood on January 3, 2012 at 5:08 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  53. M Wood on January 3, 2012 at 5:10 pm

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

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

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

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

  54. M Wood on January 3, 2012 at 5:11 pm

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

  55. M Wood on January 3, 2012 at 5:12 pm

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

  56. M Wood on January 3, 2012 at 5:13 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  57. Cliff Penning on September 23, 2012 at 11:38 pm

    There has been a lot of publicity about the Football Association’s mandatory changes for children’s football as their PR department has kicked into overdrive to promote their new policy to the media, and boy has everyone lapped it up because thanks to these changes England are now going to win the World Cup. Or are they?
    The decision to make these changes was based on a democratic vote by the FA’s shareholders. Or was it? The question I would like to know is who are these shareholders, what do they do and what is their experience in coaching children’s football or running junior football clubs? I know for a fact there were plenty of local football associations that were against these changes and those local LFAs that voted accordingly were swiftly admonished by the FA for doing so. I hardly think that constitutes a fair and free vote! I was present at one of the FA’s presentations to promote their new policies and it was delivered with a fait accompli as they were not prepared to listen to the concerns of the coaches and representatives of junior football clubs who attended. There has never been any real consultation with the many children’s football leagues and junior football clubs throughout the country, and the FA’s PR machine has made sure that only the positive comments have been publicised and the negative one’s hidden from the media and the general public. At present there are 7,000 football teams and their associated leagues that are against many of the changes; and this number is growing day by day. It seems very strange that the FA have informed the media that they have not received one negative comment about the new changes. It begs the question who the hell have they been speaking to? Certainly not grass roots football clubs!
    So what gives the FA the right to act like a dictatorship and implement all these draconian changes on clubs without any evidence to support the changes, but just a faint hope that it may improve England FC? After all they have a tremendous track record in the management of football. Historically, over the last twenty years they have made some disastrous choices for England Manager and they never seem to learn their lesson. Also who can forget the well managed Wembley Stadium project that over ran its completion date and came in way over budget leaving the FA in a financial mess. And don’t forget the failed World Cup bid, how much did that cost and I’m not just talking about money, I’m also talking about the loss of national pride. The way the FA grovelled to FIFA to obtain their permission to host the event; and the way they were happy to ignore the corruption and prostitute our national sport was embarrassing to say the least. They had the opportunity to stand up for what was right but for political convenience they chose not to. Shame on you FA! Sadly and more recently there is the conspiracy of silence over Hillsborough, which after 23 years a quick apology does not do justice to the 96 people that died and their families. Then there’s their continual inability to control the excesses of the Premier League and the behaviour of many of its players. Well at least I suppose that junior football leagues and clubs will be a lot easier for the FA to control, or will we?
    I honestly believe that the FA are only interested in elite football i.e. England FC and that grass roots football is only in existence to provide them with the raw materials to support this strategy. The FA are envious of the success of the Spanish International team and other continental teams and they are using this as the reason as to why we need to change the way we coach our children, but there is no real comparison. Take Spain for example. In Spain they have better weather, which allows them to train longer, more and better local facilities through major investment, thousands more coaches and they invest more in all aspects of their grass roots football. In Spain the best qualified coaches train the children not the adults; and in Spain they play 7 v 7 mini soccer at their junior age groups not 5-a-side football as now proposed by the FA.
    Don’t get me wrong, not every idea that comes from the FA is completely bizarre; they do now and again stumble across a good idea. The introduction of 9 v 9 football is one of them and I believe will be a success, unless it is undermined by the disastrous decision to introduce 5 a side football at U7s and U8’s and non-competitive football all the way up to U12s. If they want to promote a policy that reduces the number of children playing football and increases the number of players leaving the sport before they reach senior football, then they have struck gold.
    The FA’s new thinking is based on Academic research, what does that mean? Obviously this is done in a classroom using a slide rule. As you go through life you meet quite a few people who have a fantastic academic background but when you ask them to do a simple task like tie their boot laces they struggle.
    5-a-side football for U7s and U8s with shorter games on smaller pitches. In theory it sounds good, but let us examine it in more detail. In a 7-a-side mini soccer football team you can sign up to 12 players but with 5-a-side football it is unlikely that you will have more than 8 players in a team. So that will mean up to four players missing out; and don’t think that clubs will run two teams instead of one because they will then have to find additional coaches and meet the additional costs to train them and CRB them. Clubs simply will not be able to afford it. Also if the FA believes that parents will be prepared to travel miles across Lincolnshire to watch 20 minutes of football in which their child may only participate for ten minutes they must be deluded. Then we have the problem of yet another pitch size to contend with, clubs are already struggling to find enough 9 v 9 pitches and now they will be asked to provide four different pitch sizes. Many teams play on fields that are owned by local councils who will be unable to provide the new pitch size meaning there will be a nationwide shortage of pitches. So where will many of these 5-a-side teams play?
    Non-competitive football up to U12’s is another strange one. According to the FA their interpretation of skill is technique during the pressure of competition. When all other sports including schools are encouraging competition in the Olympic spirit the FA has decided to move in the opposite direction. They have decided to adopt the PC world position that they do not want winners and losers they would prefer no winners and deferred success for everyone. Again if we come back to simple mathematics players can count and they know when they have won or lost a game of football and when they walk on the pitch they play to win. If players and teams do not have targets and ambitions and are denied the chance to compete they will look for other sports where they can.
    Relative age effect is just smoke and mirrors. Summer and August born children are the youngest children of their age group and therefore are more likely to miss out on sporting opportunities due to their size and late development. So the FA has had an amazing idea move the year age groups so that they run from January to December. Wow that means August born babies will be in the middle of their age group, but hang on a minute that means that children born in December will now become the youngest and therefore will be more likely to miss out on sporting opportunities. Or am I missing something, it’s obviously far too academic for my poor brain; after all I only have 10 years’ experience working in children’s soccer.
    Then there is the new confusing child friendly fixture format that you will need a slide rule and compass to understand with a season containing three separate leagues and three separate cup competitions that will require someone like Albert Einstein to administrate. The format takes no account of player availability for holidays, bad weather and the all-day cup competitions have been organised at the coldest parts of the year; and they expect the League Committee members to give up a many of their weekends to organise them. This is a definitely a non-starter!
    As part of other tinkering with the rules the FA are now suggesting roll-ins instead of throw-ins for the younger teams rather than teaching the children the correct technique to throw the ball back into play. I honestly can’t see what they hope to achieve by this except for producing lots of senior players conceding possession to the opposition due to foul throw-ins because they were not taught correctly when they were younger.
    The St Georges complex is the FA’s latest expensive project to feed the FA’s insatiable desire for international success. I must admit it is an amazing complex, but will it deliver the end result, probably not! If you cast your mind back a couple of decades, academies were going to deliver a conveyor belt of talent, which would change the landscape of international football for our nation. So where is all this talent? Where are all the world class players that we were hoping for? Arguably the best player we have at the moment is Wayne Rooney but I think even he would struggle to make the subs bench let alone the first team for many of the top international sides in the world. Now you don’t have to be a mathematician to work out where the problem lies. There are so few English players playing for Premiership teams that England probably has between 100 to 200 players to choose from. Whereas Spain, Germany, Italy, Portugal etc. they have thousands. So obviously the likelihood of uncovering a football superstar is a great deal less with only a two hundred players to choose from as compared to a few thousand.
    So where has it all gone wrong? Well from my grass roots front row seat I have seen a tremendous amount of young talent that has been nurtured and developed by some really talented amateur coaches. These budding starlets have soon been snapped up by local academies (usually at a far too young age) where they can be bought or sold like commodities. Eventually, after several years in these academies many of these players emerge as very fit, run of the mill players who struggle to retain possession of the ball. Any players that emerge with any promise that reach the high echelons of the Premier League are usually discarded to the subs bench or the reserves as they don’t have an expensive foreign name.
    When England last won the World Cup, children were playing football in the streets and using jumpers for goalposts. Many of the players came from a working class back ground and as children they would not have the luxury of expensive toys. However, what they would have had is a football and possibly little else to do but practice in the streets, very much like the children of Brazil today.
    When it comes to investment, football today is very top heavy with the majority of money going to the Premier League and the further down the tree the money gets less. Right at the bottom children’s football clubs scrape by on donations and good will. Until this imbalance is addressed nothing will ever change.

    At the moment the FA do not care that they have angered an army of volunteers and coaches who have invested so much of their time over the years to children’s football; and the FA have done it with a big stick. However, I believe that they have now got hold of a tiger by its tail and they had better hold on tight as this tiger has teeth. Junior football clubs are now asking themselves do they need the FA to manage them and I believe the response from many clubs will be overwhelming NO. So unless the FA reconsiders these new policies the majority of junior football clubs within the country might make the decision not to affiliate to their local football associations from the 2013/14 season onwards and possibly not return until there is major change within the FA, both in attitude and accountability. They are supposed to be the custodians of our sport but they act as if they are some Oligarch owner and believe that they can make any changes to our national sport that they wish with complete impunity and can dismiss out of hand the real investors in our national game. We shall see!
    The message that the FA are sending out to junior football is that it is junior footballs fault that England haven’t won the world cup in recent years and they have laid the blame firmly and squarely on our volunteer coaches an junior football leagues. However, junior football also has a message to the FA, which is sort your own mess out before you start interfering with children’s football.

    Cliff Penning
    Birchwood Colts JFC

  58. Martin on September 29, 2012 at 12:32 am

    A fantastic reply, obviously written ‘from the heart’ and by somebody truely involved in grassroots youth football. The FA are now spending thousands via their P.R department quoting missleading facts and figures suposedly gathered by Nick Levett during his many roadshows. Well I have had the pleasure of attending quite a few of these events and at each one any negative questions or comments by the audience were simply blanked or ignored. At the last event organised jointly by my two local C.F.A’s when it came to ‘question time’ we were told that the venue was closing for the night and any questions could be made outside in the car park. From what I understand this type of behaviour happened all over the country so as you rightly state ‘hardly a fair and free vote’.

  59. Martin on October 4, 2012 at 10:55 pm

    Still no reply or proof for that matter of how Nick and the FA came up with the stats listed in the article above. Seems very funny to me that they claim 70% were in favour of the move to the calendar year birth bias and only 8% were against yet they didn’t put this proposal forward for the vote.
    They are now saying the changes will take a long time before we start to see the results. Well I have some facts for you guys. Mini soccer kicked off in England in 1999 for all age groups under ten years old. The likes of Wayne Rooney, Adam Johnson and Joe Hart are all too old at 25 plus to have been involved with mini soccer so just as we start to see the products of the 7 v 7 game come through the FA think now is a good time to start changing things again. Dont believe all the hype and the ‘child friendly’ talk, what they are really after is the money it will generate. More MANDATORY courses and qualifications, more affiliation costs and the list goes on and on. What this country needs is a massive investment in facilities and their maintenance not continuous meddling by people who have no real idea of grassroots football. Read the comments people have posted on this website and then justify your ludicrous statistics if you can!

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