Give grassroots football a break – Genesis Sports

With wet weather and poor pitches causing the usual seasonal cancellations to matches across the country, Genesis Sports join the debate on a change to the grassroots football season [Advertorial]

Genesis Sports - grassroots break

Unless you’re a pro club with undersoil heating, or have access to a good quality pitch of your own, then little football tends to be played between November and January.

When games are played, the quality of football tends to suffer as the ball gets stuck in long, wet grass or mud. Nor does it help the condition of the pitch later in the season. Inevitably, muddy or poor quality pitches often end up with long balls being pumped forward to the ‘big striker up top’, but isn’t this what the FA and our coaches are all trying to move away from?

With another long winter approaching and further cuts expected to local council funding, who provide the majority of grassroots football pitches, then perhaps it’s time for a re-think.

Back in September, Genesis Sports carried out a survey of grassroots clubs, asking whether a mid-winter break would be beneficial. Opinions were polarised, with around half falling on either side of the debate.

But after another weekend where the wet weather took a heavy toll on fixtures and football pitches, plus with local council funding cuts certain to have an knock-on effect on grassroots football, we ask again whether there are benefits to a change in playing season.

Genesis Sports - footballerLet’s take a look at the benefits…

Most amateur clubs finish their season in April, if the winter weather has been kind to pitches, or by early May at the latest. But surely the best time of year to play football is May and June, when the weather is warmer and drier and the evenings are longer?

This would also reduce the cost to clubs, with less need for floodlit training or pitch/venue hire.

Pitches – and those maintaining them – would benefit from matches being played in better weather conditions, meaning there’s less chance of them getting cut up, and fields turning into the inevitable muddy bogs we see up and down the country.

It would be better for players too, especially youth footballers who wouldn’t have to suffer playing in freezing, wet conditions and on heavy pitches.

Wouldn’t that also help improve the quality of football? As well as helping coaches coach, encourage more participation and involvement from players and parents? We think it would.

But then there’s the age-old issue of the cricket season, where goalposts on public spaces are removed and replaced in many cases with cricket pitches.

Yet, participation levels in football outnumber cricket by ten to one. With over three million people playing football at least once a month, football is, by some distance, our national sport. And in reality, the majority of football pitches, even council-owned ones, aren’t affected by cricket anyway.

So all things considered, what do YOU think? Would a change in playing season benefit grassroots football?

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This article appeared in The Clubhouse – the monthly newsletter from Club Website. To get the best grassroots news, offers and competitions straight to your inbox every month, sign up today!

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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 Comment

  1. Phil Nicholson on December 7, 2015 at 11:09 am

    From my experience in Bedford were rainfall is far less than many places, and the grass is growing steadily in December. The local authority pitches are standing up well, last year we cancelled 2% of fixtures ( due to snow) with an average of 21 games per pitch which I acknowledge is a modest number, i think realistically we could cope with 28 before additional resources are required. 28% of pitches share with Cricket outfields. The local youth leagues tend to build in short breaks for school holidays and Christmas which gives the players and pitches a rest. So overall we are coping well on the back of Section 106 funded investment, some excellent equipment and adequate staffing resources. I agree that extended breaks in December / January would help preserve pitch surfaces and extending the season in to May / June would be good for players ( as long as they don’t play cricket as well) It will however have an impact on pitch renovation, when late April is late never mind June with no irrigation. Clubs would also need to help out preparing pitches as grounds staff will be busy on time consuming cricket and bowls greens, as well as keeping on top of the flower beds and shrubs. So maybe one answer is a compromise, short mid season breaks, avoid over playing pitches, improved maintenance (the IOG is working to bring clubs together, sharing/ purchasing equipment and sharing knowledge) grant funding for revenue and capital investment and working in Partnership with clubs so that reduced resources can be used on the most beneficial tasks. Why use staff to mark out pitches when they could be aerating? Club volunteers could do the marking out. To improve the skills factor and coaching why not look at playing more football in the form of cup competitions / mini leagues during the summer, making greater use of the 3G pitches which are under used outside the main football season.

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