Wednesday Word: Old enough for the 'big stage'?

Every Wednesday, Club Website will be asking your thoughts on the big football question of the week, with a grassroots twist. Get involved and tell us what you think!

Top football clubs are always on the lookout for young wonder-kids to join their ranks.

As the professional game's scouting network covers more and more of the globe, the real trick for the world's best teams is to unearth the best players before their rivals have got there first.

Academies in this country can't officially sign children to their books until they reach the under-9s age group, but many clubs invite kids down before then to train with them and get to know them before then.

The hope is, no doubt, that when they are old enough to sign, they will choose the club has invested their time in them.

The best - or luckiest - players may be able to look forward to a long and successful spell with the academy. The elite few may even make it to the first team one day.

But many others will not even make it into the academy or may get cast aside when it's deemed that they don't make the grade.

For every bright young star that makes it into professional football, there are hundreds out there who will only ever get to play the game at grassroots level, even if they seemingly had the world at their feet.

Have your say!

So at what age do you think is appropriate for a young footballer to leave their grassroots club for the 'bigger stage'?

Should the best players get the chance to receive the best coaching from the youngest possible age? Is it a case that if you are good enough you are old enough?

Or should the kids be left for as long as possible to develop in grassroots football before being taken under the wing of the professional clubs?

It's time for definitive word in grassroots football, so it's over to YOU!

Have your say by voting in our online poll via your club or league website (or our demo site). Alternatively, you can join the debate on our Facebook or Twitter pages, or have your say in the comments section below.

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