Youth football teams wanting to play 9v9 football in England this season can now apply for funding for new goalposts from the Football Foundation.
A ringfenced funding pot of £1.5m - made available by the Foundation in association with the FA - will support clubs and leagues taking up the new 9-a-side format of the game - a key part of the FA's new approach to youth football, announced in May as part of their Youth Development Review.
FA Head of Elite Development Gareth Southgate said the changes are "vitally important for the development of young players and the future of football in this country."
The new 9v9 format - played on a smaller pitch and with smaller goals than 11-a-side - will be mandatory for under 11s from the 2013/14 season, with under 12s following suit from 2014/15 onwards.
But rather than wait for its mandatory introduction, many leagues and clubs have opted to start playing 9v9 straight away. So much so that Nick Levett, the FA’s national development manager for youth football, believes that 9v9 will prove more popular than 11v11 at under 11s level at the start of the 2012/13 season.
Providing goalposts for the new format of the game is a key part of the new structure.
To meet the demand, the FA and Football Foundation have moved quickly to introduce the 9 v 9 Goalpost Funding Scheme, which will help clubs cover their costs.
Grants of 50% towards the total cost of the goals will be available from the Foundation, who are working closely with County FAs to identify the needs and sites that will benefit.
Clubs and leagues must apply via their County FA in one of series of pre-defined funding windows, the first of which opened this week and will close on 30 September.
The Foundation has compiled a set of guidance notes with details on the application process and a list of goalpost suppliers. Click the links below for more information.
9 v 9 Goalpost Funding Scheme:
* Guidance Notes (pdf)
* Terms and Conditions (pdf)
* The FA Guide to Pitch and Goalpost Dimensions (pdf)
To find out more, please contact your County FA or visit footballfoundation.org.uk.
Tell us what you think!
Is your club or league moving to the 9v9 this season? Perhaps you were ahead of the game and have been playing it already? Or are you not looking forward to the introduction of the new format?
Whatever your opinion, we'd love to hear it so please leave a comment below.
Image courtesy of Manchester FA.