18 Sep 2013
TURNING THE TABLES IN CHILDRENS FAVOUR
Kids are competitive but play for fun first
Last year the FA announced an overhaul of English youth football to be phased in from the 2013/14 season. Recognizing the need for change an overwhelming 87% of shareholders voted for a child-friendly approach to competition up to U11.
5v5, 7v7 and 9v9 Matches will be played on smaller pitches with appropriate size goals, encouraging more touches of the ball, helping player development and changing the way the game is coached.
Matches will be played on traditional 11 a-side pitches from U13.
Perhaps the most important change will be the scraping of league tables up to U11’s. Instead there will be 3 mini-seasons within a season, each featuring development matches and a ‘trophy event’.
The gradual introduction of ‘competitive’ football will allow players to learn the game free from external adult-driven pressure for results.
The most common concern of adults when discussing abolishing league tables for youngsters is that the competitive edge will be lost. Hopefully it will……..amongst the adults!
Rest assured it won’t make a blind bit of difference to the players on the pitch. Whether it’s a kick around in the park or an organized match, children want to win. They are naturally competitive. Professional clubs understand this and long ago traded youth leagues for development.
Crucially this change will gradually alter the way the game is coached. With less pressure to get results players will be tried in different positions and encouraged to be creative and play with flair.
By raising the bar at grassroots the standard of players will improve throughout our game.
It might take a generation for the benefits to show, but with a majority of 1st team players in the Premiership from overseas, this long term plan must succeed if English football is to flourish again.