News & Updates

FA proposals for youth football – have your say!

The English FA has proposed changes to the structure of youth football in England.

This month’s edition of The Club House features a detailed review of the changes – click here to view.

We’re really keen to hear what you think about the proposals and their implications for the grassroots game if they are accepted.

Are you in favour of the increase in small-sided football and raising the age at which children play 11-a-side?

Would you be pleased like the mandatory introduction of the 9v9 game? What do you think of scrapping league tables until under 12s?

Whatever you think on any of the issues, let us know in the comments section below. We’ll collate all of your feedback and send it back to the FA so that it can feed back into the current consultation process.

Look forward to hearing what you have to say!


Vincent Taylor says:

It was interesting to read about the development of youth football.
I remember when I started playing football at Primary School it was a novelty to play on a pitch where the goals had nets.
Home matches meant a traipse through Sevenoaks High Street. If I rightly remember we never won a game with the only success being a Nil-Nil draw with Dunton Green Primary. The 1960’s weren’t all nostalgic football wise!
Lets hope the government doesn’t start selling off play areas.

Vince Taylor

March 2, 2011 at 21:06

david beech says:

i think these are really overdue proposals to which should have been introduced at grass roots levels from the start there is no wonder we are so far behind europe i believe it is important to have grass roots football people making grass roots football decisions i for one welcome any proposal to play mini football formats

March 2, 2011 at 20:01

Martin Wood says:

‘Following repeated failures by the senior team at major championships and the inevitable calls for action that follow, the FA last month announced a Young Player Development Review’
Why do the FA think changing things at grassroots level will change the way our national team performs? Any talented players sometimes as young as seven years old are whisked away by pro club accadamies and never see football at grassroots level. If there is a problem with football in this country it’s not at our level. Take at look at Englands U17’s and U16’s stats. U17’s last 18 games – won 13, drawn 4 and lost 1. U16’s last 14 games – won 9, drawn 3 and lost 2. Seems to me that Nick Levett should be looking at what happens after these age groups instead of messing about with things he knows nothing about. Since 1998 we have been playing mini-soccer at U10’s and below. The majority of these games are played on pitches used only by these age groups and therefore have a decent surface. Nick Levetts proposals to play across or down the centre of adult pitches used the previous day is a joke.
5 v 5 on a 30 x 20 pitch may well create more touches of the ball but will certainly give less time with the ball. From my experience the transition from 7 v 7 to 11 v 11 is easily coped with by the players who are ready for proper football, its some coaches and managers who are scared of the transition as their inadequacies or lack of knowledge becomes more visable. The abolishment of league tables will do nothing other than confuse the game. A decent league structure gives football for all levels of ability as teams find their natural level and play against teams of a similar level. Back to the drawing board Nick!

March 2, 2011 at 17:01

leon says:

i have a son who was told that he was technically exellent at a c o e and should go join real madrid or barcalona lol.. Really!! They put a red mark on his name because he was born in august! And a little smaller !i think thats where alot of the kids are lost in this county! They just want big or fast players!and the gifted players that have to punch above there weight that are v skillfull are lost in the system or lose heart! Thankfully hes not lost heart but if england wants to have the messis ect they have to take more notice of the smaller gited players, not throw them to the side because of there age or size!! Look at barca!! Small players!

March 2, 2011 at 13:22

Lewis Evans says:

I have to agree with Andy Smith’s comments about technical ability and allowing the boys and girls to express themselves, I run Football Fundays during half-terms and am astonised at the amount of children who are unable to do basic technical skills such as step-overs, drag backs etc, some of these are as old as 12 and 13. We focus on all of this at our training sessions, in fact some parents have said we do too much, but like Andy we encourage the children to express themselves during a match, it’s not showing-off and it’s great to see, but what is nice to see is all of them having a go at it, I don’t need to tell them when or where to do a skill, they will learn that making the mistake themselves, have a look around at the great players in the game at the moment, the Messi’s of this world, great technical ability, who won the world cup a team containing some of the best technical players in the modern game, but how many technical english players do we see grace the pitches of england on a saturday afternoon in the premiership?? If we get rid of the competitive leagues upto about under 11’s or higher, the true coaches will be allowed to develop fantastic players with great ability, skill and a real love for the game. Take a look at the english academies, no competitive footall until under 16’s, do the boys complain, no, do the parents complain no so what’s the difference?

March 2, 2011 at 13:09

Phil says:

I am all for trying anything new if it helps develope the kids but no matter what we change the main thing in my eyes that needs to happen is the time of year the fixtures are played. As has been highlighted by many coaches the amount of fixtures that fall by the way side due to bad weather is ridiculous and the fact that at the young ages the fixtures are not rescheduled due to the fact they are not competitive games means that kids miss out on alot of football. Also playing in the winter months can put the kids off playing due to the temperatures when what we want is for them to be playing with smiles on their faces not standing shivering or crying when the ball has hit them cos its stung with being so cold. The idea of playing indoors is a possible solution but as mentioned on a previous comment the added cost of doing this falls back on to the clubs. I hope a solution can be found.

March 2, 2011 at 12:42

Andy Smith says:

Wow, you can really tell what type of coaches people are from their comments on here. There’s the ‘if we’re winning I must be a great coach’ coach, the ‘i’ve done it like this for 50 years and I know best” coach and, thankfully, quite a few “I get my buzz from seeing players developing their ability, regardless of score”. It’s not hard to decide who you would (or should) have coaching your own children.

The FA have looked at how other European countries do it and have taken what is regarded as best practise from Spain, the Netherlands, Barcelona and Ajax to name a few. The fact that the FA are paying this much attention is a positive step in itself.

Embrace the changes people, It’s up to us as grassroots coaches to develop the football ability of young players in this country. Why else do you do it?

March 2, 2011 at 10:51

mr leon thompson says:

hi, re age affect, i was just wondering how the proposals will affect my son , hes a august born child , he in the u 11s at the moment, what ideas has the fa got for my sons age group/summer born??? Any feed back would be great!!!!

March 2, 2011 at 10:47

Club Website says:

Jamie – we’ll be collating all of the comments and sending them to the FA, although we know the man behind the proposals, Nick Levett (@footynick), has already been on here to take a look.

The CW Team

March 2, 2011 at 10:47

Jamie says:

Wonder if the FA will read the comments on here…that would be a step in the right direction.



March 2, 2011 at 10:40

John Ransom says:

My son is currently signed to a League One club’s Centre of Excellence at Under 11 level. His team has just supposedly moved up to 11 a side since Christmas although in reality, half of their games have been 9 v 9. The trouble with 9 x 9 is the pitches used are generally the same as 8v8 and rather than more goalscoring opportunities there are considerably less due to congestion of players as is reflected in the lower scores. Also we have lost games due to water logged pitches. The suggestion of indoor alternatives must be a joke as the facilities in our part of the country are not available or fully booked and expensive.
I applaud the FA for trying to improve the standard of our young players and watching the excellent coaching my son gets, I feel there is hope for the future. All the teams he plays try to keep the ball on the deck and watching their matches is more enjoyable than most adult football right up to The Championship where muscle is preferred to craft.

March 2, 2011 at 10:04

Kevin Jordan says:

Although I agree in principle with most of the proposed changes, I’m fairly sure who will be paying the cost of introducing these ideas. I have been involved in youth soccer for 5 years starting at under 8, and each year the kids/parents/sponsors have to pay for all kits, equipment, training facilities, pitches, referees and the FA for the privilage of playing football. The managers and coaches, who are unpaid volunteers, have to pay the FA to gain coaching badges, coaching resources, CRB checks, and other requirements that are mandatory in order for children to play football.

It makes my blood boil when I keep hearing about how much money is being invested into grassroots football, when in my experience every time the FA comes up with proposals, it always means extra cost for clubs who have to rely on volunteers and sponsors to make sure kids can play football

March 1, 2011 at 22:16

dave pearson says:

My team next year is moving into 11 a side fooball , and think it is too much of a big step up from 7 a side ,think 9v9 is best for a couple of years , would like it brought in asap otherwise it not fair on teams all ready playing 11 aside to perhaps have to change to that, 5v5 in 7-8s is wrong as well should be 15mins a half not 20 like present , as some of them are taking the first steps on the fooball ladder so should be eased in to it .

March 1, 2011 at 21:32

Carl Page says:

So England fail again and we immediately look to overhaul grass roots football. In my opinion the FA needs to sort out the top end of the game first otherwise it does not matter what we do at grass roots because the opportunities for good young english players in the top leagues are so limited.

I coach a rural under 9s team playing mini soccer. It is our first experience of a league structure and the players are thriving due to playing competitive football each week which is challenging them.

The biggest problem we face is the lack of facilities. It is fine to speak of indoor football when you are in large towns but it will not work in rural areas.

Yes there is the Player Development Centre at our nearest professional club, but this is almost an hours drive starting at 5pm.

The grass roots game is heavily reliant on many volunteers, but also supportive parents. The FA needs to ensure facilities are in place to make it easier for coaches and parents to develop the young players. It is no coincidence that there is a lack of players making the grade from rural areas.

I would like to know where Mr Levett has carried out his consultation and whether he has ever been involved in football at the real grass roots level.

Finally, I am not opposed to change but I am afraid I do not see the benefit in most of the proposals in this report.

March 1, 2011 at 21:28

Lozz Rose says:

Every August 600 sixteen year old boys join clubs on professional scholarship contracts. less than 30% will be awarded full professional contracts when these reach 18 and by the time they are 21, 500 of these original 600 boys will not be involved in the professional game at all. Every season 10,000 boys between the ages of 8-16 are involved in academies or centres of excellences of which only 1% will ever play professional football of any description. So whose fault is that? Well,over 60% of players in the Premiership being foreign players hardly enhances the opportunity for our own kids to make the grade does it. If the FA want to implement these latest proposals such as 5v5 7v7 9v9 formats let them go ahead at acamedies, who supposedly have the more talented kids to work with with in any given area, and let the other 99% of children who haven’t a hope of ever becoming a pro player just get on with playing in whatever format they wish in their youth leagues. Why should kids football in its entirety be affected by such stringent changes just for the sake of the 1% of boys who eventually become pro footballers. The FA is trying to play God to children and is also taking away parental rights. I speak as somebody who has now been involved in kids football as coach and administrator for nearly 40 years

March 1, 2011 at 18:22

Roy Stanford says:

I am very surprised that yet again there are to be more changes, Are these based upon a Nationwide survey or just the opinions /ideas of a few ?. “One size does not fit all” would seem to be the appropriate comment to a proposed national scheme. In some areas there may not be sufficient space to allow Leagues of 11 a side pitches whereas in rural areas this is not a problem. Some areas have well developed football traditions and coaches/managers who having training regimes geared to them.

Some areas of the country have well supported formats of 7, 9 a side or 11 a side starting at age 10. My son (playing since he was an U7) and all the lads in his squad have enjoyed and benefited considerably from playing 11 a side at age 10. There is a view that 11 a side comes to early but the preparation for the transition can be made much easier by the quality of training to improve the fitness and develop new styles of playing. By allowing several subs in matches the problem of players becoming “too tired” can be overcome.

My son’s group was ready for 11 a side, they were fed up of playing 7 & 9 a side mini tournaments so were the parents. The idea of not having League Tables would be detrimental to the game ,whether top or bottom, first division second or third, in my experience the youngsters train/turnout for their matches with the same enthusiasm each time. They like the competition, it adds to the excitement of trying to beat a top team, or if your team is on top making sure you are not embarrassed. All the youngsters in my son’s club are exceptionally well trained and have always adopted a professional approach to the game win or lose the enthusiasm has never faltered. The rivalry between clubs here is tremendous, it has led to a an improvement in the standard of play. In my son’s school he regularly meets fellow players from different clubs. His Year 7 11 a side school team has players from 5 clubs and if it was less than 11 a side he wouldn’t be playing. It’s okay for Summer tournaments 5, 6 or 7 a side but not if you are playing in a League or it’s a cup match.

Luckily in my son’s league we are blessed with excellent clubs and managers who are dedicated to the 11 a side format from age 10. There have been families move down here from city areas and been surprised at the number of clubs from which to choose and the amount of competition available.

Individual Leagues should be allowed to choose the system that best suits them. This approach is in keeping with the recent government initiative to let local people decide local matters within a general national framework.

March 1, 2011 at 17:50

Simon Godfrey says:

I think the ideas are a step in the right direction for youth development in this country and I’m really glad that the FA have taken time to talk to players, coaches and clubs at a grassroots level.

I’m relatively new to coaching so I only know what I’ve experienced with my U7s this season and what I’ve heard from other coaches but less competitive football at a younger age and a move to make football more accessible (i.e. no frozen pitches) is exactly the sort of areas which needed to be looked at.


March 1, 2011 at 16:36

Andy Smith says:

Re: Ians comment – Felt a shudder run down my spine reading this, exactly what I feel is wrong in grassroots football.

Giving, and coaching, young players specific ‘positions’ at a young age is ridiculous. Just let them play and express themselves and get a feel for playing all over the pitch. Every week I’ll have players come to me and say “can I have a go in defence/midfield/attack this week” and i’m extremely happy to accommodate them. It’s about giving them a complete education. You wouldn’t send your kids to school to only learn english.

Each Sunday I ensure that all of my players play in at least 2 positions (most of them play in 3) and guess what, they love it. We got beat 2-0 and 2-1 last weekend but we played some beautiful technical football and had the opposition manager drooling over the all round skills of our players, even commenting that he “needs to get his team playing like that”.

Also, what is an “over dribbled”? I want my players to be confident on the ball and I encourage them to show off during games. Who cares if they lose the ball, they’ll learn from it . Todays “over dribblers” are tomorrows Ronaldo’s and Messi’s.

Personally I think that almost everything that the FA have done since the World Cup will have a positive effect on grassroots football, from ‘The Future Game’ and the new proposals through to Gareth Southgates appointment and I for one am really excited by the future.

Finally, got to agree with Mark Chapman in his interview. Yes there are some rogue coaches out there but, in my experience, the vast majority are decent, dedicated volunteers who are trying to ensure that their players are having fun. The rogues don’t tend to last long anyway.

March 1, 2011 at 16:22

shaun quirk says:

too be honest i run a junior club and they are going to force us to close the club we run on a shoe string and these changes are a step too far these people who sit on the exuctive half of whom have never played football gave out that u13s would be the cut off age for mixed teams then 4 weeks before start of season changed it to remain as per season before they are killing the game why dont they ASK THE PEOPLE RUNNING GRASSROOT FOOTBALL WHAT WE WANT instead of what they want

March 1, 2011 at 15:36

shaun quirk says:

i am also a chairman of a junior club but am also a parent of players and a team manager and these changes are ridiculous i remember the fa saying too much competion is wrong now they are saying more school football behave let the people who run grassroots have the choice dont make it mandatory let the leagues they play in vote which way they gothe fa executive comittee dont even listen to thier own members because after all the fa must be the biggest club in the world yet the members never get to vote on important issues that matter to them its time to change yes but from the very top that is the place to start not the very bottom get a grip and start where it matters rooney once again gets away with a serious matter yet kids get long bans for less yet his is on national telly in front of millions how do i tell a 10 year old you cant do that yet rooney gets away with it THAT IS WHATS WRONG with our game

March 1, 2011 at 15:35


What have ENGLAND won since 1966? Nothing y? Because players have not been good enough y ? Because they haven’t been allowed develop as players ,why ? Because the vast majority of parents and coaches judge Development from League tables!look at other countries and look at the facts they don’t lie,how many english players played in the recent champions league games? Compare that to other countries?so my summary is lets develop players at early age without must win attitude,time for the cavemen people to look at reality,grassroots football needs changing.SIMPLE!

March 1, 2011 at 15:26

Warren Wright says:

There seems to be a common theme on here about “where are we going to get the goalposts from for 9v9″.
Envisage the post next World Cup analysis where the FA spokesman says “sorry but we’re just not getting the kids coming through anymore – can’t seem to get any goalposts”.
Surely the home of football should also be home of the goalpost – I mean…….really!

March 1, 2011 at 15:18

Eddy McEntire says:

I am the Chairman of a youth football club , i attend a lot of youth football games , i see a lot of managers and parents screaming at youngsters from the touchline , at the moment there is a win at all cost mentality . I have often asked parents to quieten down and let the boys enjoy the game , the answer i often get is ” we need to win ” it seems to mean more to the parents and managers than it does to the boys and girls .
I will support any change that gives the sport back to the children , if these changes mean we get rid of the loud mouth element from the sport , than the quicker its implemented the better .

Eddy McEntire

March 1, 2011 at 15:25

Rick Rosewarn says:

9v9 maybe the right stepping stone but who is going to pay for the different goal posts? Council’s won’t and what if you don’t have room to mark out a 9v9 pitch.
You need a league table otherwise how are you going to decide who plays which teams. No point having a good team playing not so good teams every week. We were put in the wrong 11 aside league. We were put in div 2 rather than div 4 (6 leagues) and we lost all bar 3 games which was a killer for the players. I would not want to see any team go through what we did that year.
Plus Kids like to know how they are doing and by not having a league table do you think that kids are not going to want to win a match? They have league tables for junior cricket, tennis, squash, and badminton … there are medals for junior athletics, cycling and rowing .. SO why should football not be competative until the age of 13?
It sounds a good idea but its riddled with issues and obsticles. At the end of the day what do the kids want … has anyone asked them?
My team loved moving from 7v7 to 11v11 when they were 10 and took to the bigger pitch and offisde really well and loved the fact they were playing PROPPER FOOTBALL and not mini soccer.
When I was a kid I played 11 aside football for cubs and my team from the age of 7 and 8 I think … Where were England in the 70’s and 80’s ? Doing quite well really so are these chnages going to make England football better in 10 years time?

March 1, 2011 at 14:53

Pete Brown says:

Very much in favour of 9v9 progression, smaller goal size makes a lot of sense. The leap from 7v7 to 11v11 is too great, the players see less of the ball and are lost on full size pitches.
I believe that mini football based on a monthly tournament at a central all weather venue played on a round robin format is the way to go. It gives 3 weeks of structured training and then something for the kids to really look forward to. This format works, it is what we currently do at under 10 level in the Somerset girls football league.

March 1, 2011 at 14:25

Simon Robinson says:

@WarrenWright – summed up my original post in far less words :-)
Well said sir.

I think we all agree on 9v9 as the way forward.

The ‘leagues’ and ‘competition’ will always be subjective and opinions formed – I think its good for kids to know where they are in the order of things and to look to try and achieve a higer ranking

Summer football is just a bad idea all round – I need a rest from football! We only get about 10 weeks as it is!

March 1, 2011 at 13:37

Tony Wilson says:

I agree with all of your proposals, small sided games and no points are the way forward for kids.

The main problem however is some coaches with inflated egos who trial young kids, some of these managers/coaches want the best players in order to win 15-0 every week, the teams that get thrashed by such a huge margin could have a star of the future themseves 1 day, but most will give the game up.

The ones who thrash eveyone all the time usually give up the game because of manager, coach and parent pressure.

That’s why we need big changes, teams with mixed ability, not dream teams. It needs to be difficult to win a match, that’s natural competiveness.

March 1, 2011 at 12:38

Jim ORourke says:

This should be considered AFTER clubs are given funding for decent facilities. It looks to me as if the lack of proper facilities for clubs is just being ignored when it ought to be the Number 1 Priority.

March 1, 2011 at 11:57

Warren Wright says:

1. 9v9 proposals, fully agree. Current system is daft for all the reasons quoted. Also allows more teams to stay together – difficult to go from a squad of 9 to one of 15.
2. Leave tables as they are. This could end up getting silly – why not just take the goalposts away! Do away with “stats” i.e. top goalscorers until the end of the season.
3. Summer football – no thanks. Need a break and kids of this age should be playing tennis, cricket, athletics, playing on their bikes etc.

Further point – U8 level is the ideal opportunity to allow young refs to train. Why isn’t it being used?

March 1, 2011 at 11:26

Lewis Evans says:

On reading all the comments I think its obvious that these changes should be implemented, we had a managers meeting last night the one question that came up was the 9 v 9 and whether the decision would be to have two teams of 9 or reduce our squads for two seasons then hope to regain players again to take the teams into 11 a-side, personally I think we should continue with two games, I currently run with a squad of 18 so how do I tell 8 or 9 of these players in two years time we don’t want you but come back again in two years when we will want you, still alot of grey areas especially around that and the cost and space required for the extra pitch and goals etc, I agree with all the FA want to do but we don’t want to run the risk of forcing boys and girls out of the game then getting them back in again when we want them.

March 1, 2011 at 10:37

Simon Eyre says:

You quote Mourhino regarding Spanish and Portuguese kids not being taught to win but to play. What has Portugal ever won in professional football? OK, Spain are currently number one but until recently they were under performers like England. What about Italy and Germany. Both countries who drill in the importance of winning, both have had their successes over a more consistent and longer times-pan.

Mourhino is quoted (a manager who, unlike many foreign managers actually liked the competitive spirit of English players and picked more than others for his Chelsea side). I heard Beckenbaur and Klinsmann in a recent TV documentary about England’s inability to win tournaments. They contradicted Mourhino both saying that the difference between Germany and England was that German kids were taught from a very early age to win at all costs…

Surely the problem we have is that we’re confusing the kids with half-measures. In life there are winners and losers. Someone who isn’t a “winner” at football might be a winner at hockey, rugby or even a non-sporting pastime. Surely we should let these kids get on a find their “thing”. As usual we’re letting political correctness and the views of a few vocal academics dictate a society where winners are frowned upon…

March 1, 2011 at 09:03

Ian says:

I welcome the proposed changes, it all seems fairly obvious.
My comments allude to development and excellence centers.
I have 3 boys, one of them is very good at football, he was scouted and now trains at the local excellence center. I have noticed a number of things as he went through development training. The main thing is the old not what you know or how good you are but who you know. Maybe their dad knows the coaches or the mum is very good at networking, there are various reasons. The outcome is that somebody, in deed quite a lot of somebodies, with real potential, are not there. For me the good players work hard, look up, pass, move into space, have a good first touch, have good skills, work for the team and have some vision. The over dribblers, glory seekers and goal moochers might look good but they are not the way forward. What you really want are the best players. That means attitude and ability.

Another very odd thing is that they don’t play very many games. They regularly don’t play a game at the end of training. They don’t play a game once a week against a similar strength team. I’m not sure how you judge a player without watching a number of competitive normal size team games. If I didn’t know the Manchester Utd team I’m pretty sure I couldn’t tell who was the better player purely from training sessions. I tend to form my opinion from the way they play in a game against similar strength teams. You can see a lot in training but training is there to develop skills, which you hope to see in matches.

Maybe it’s just my experience but there seems to be a distinct lack of what positions suit players or where they’re best at playing. There appear to be a plethora of strikers but you need defenders and midfielders and they need to know their positions at an early age. The oddest thing is that the local youth team managers know what they’re looking for and they generally get that information from games. They seem to have a much better idea than the local development centre and yet the development centre is the stepping stone to our future footballers.

Lack of discipline is another worrying aspect of youth football, some of it inspired by what I can only describe as cheating professionals, poor parenting and poor managers. Respect is a word used a lot in football but I see precious little of it in football. The attitude by players, managers and parents to referees and their assistants can be disgusting. I would be happy to see straight reds for swearing or any dissent. You could put money on the game being cleaned up fairly quickly if that happened. Parents and managers want their team to win, the team is less likely to win with less players – end of dissent.

My final point. We live in a bit of a backwater and it worries me that kids in areas like ours are not properly represented. There must be lots of talented regional players around but I feel an opportunity is being missed. Surely all the good players don’t just come from London and the Midlands? Getting the best players for club and country should not have an element of where they are located.

March 1, 2011 at 00:56

paul cummings says:

i have had a poll on our website asking if youth football be played from march to september 70% say yes 23% say no and 7% aren’t sure since we lose loads of games in the winter. but all theses new proposals the fa are looking to bring in are good but should of been introduced earlier my under 10’s are going to find it hard next season but there aren’t enough facilities than will be able to provide a 9v9 pitch and what about the smaller goals who is going to pay for them?

February 28, 2011 at 23:13

Adrian Wood says:

Small sided games, especially 9v9 at U11/U12 are fantastic; we played in a 9v9 league last season at U11 and it was the perfect step up from 7v7 mini-soccer.

However, the proposal for overcoming the ‘Relative Age Effect’ is crass! Children born in the first half of the year are not going to want players from the ‘year below them’ (as they would see it) in their team; and those born from September are going to want to play with the rest of their school friends, not those in the ‘year above’.
In any case, this just moves the ‘age effect’ from Jun-Sep to Jan-Mar; a huge upheaval with marginal benefit.

February 28, 2011 at 23:04

philip byfield says:

hi all looking at the new direction of the fa etc i must point out 3-4 years ago u8s could not play in a league it was called the frendly league and i have to say i agree with what they did , i also agree in what they are trying to bring in with the 9×9 many people that i have spoken would agree with you there where i disagree is the loss of our mini football leagues , do not go down the road of spanish football or italian football. this is the problem every where you go in this country there is outside intrests ie sports centers who allow young boys and girls to play in leagues they are not under any banner ie the local leagues they are out on there own no crb checks , just taking money as for the local team if you take away the leagues from the clubs these boys @girls will go there and leave there football club , also can you tell me why dorset are in the respect campaign hampshire are to but why is the byfl not in it , for the sake of the kids they should be made to , do not make the mistake that other countrys have a better system then ours , leave the leagues alone , as you will distroy the whole framework of english football

February 28, 2011 at 20:40

Fernando Silva says:

Why not Futsal?!?!?

February 28, 2011 at 20:11

Simon Icke says:


It is a very good thing you are trying to do… Yes, you can use my poem ‘TOUCHLINE SHOUTING’ on your web site, so long as you acknowledge me as the author and mention this poem is subject to copyright and is being used with permission from the author. both on your web site and in paper format please.


Touchline Shouting

Touchline shouting, that’s all I ever hear,
I’m so confused and filled with fear.
I’m only ten years old and football should be fun,
But with all this noise I don’t know which way to run.
“Get back in defence!” my manager shouts.
Dad shouts, “Get up front and deal with these louts!”
Loud mouth supporter, who knows all the rules.
(He takes the rest of us for fools)
Shouts, “What are you doing lad? Your head’s in a spin!”
Is it any surprise, with all this din?

I am only a boy, so why do you all try to destroy, what I’d love to enjoy?


by Simon Icke

Published with permission from author Simon Icke Copyright 1998 Aston Clinton, Bucks. UK.

February 28, 2011 at 19:53

Lynda Bradford says:

Since the theme of these changes seem to be against putting young children under pressure, I feel the biggest offenders for this seem to be Professional Club academies and development squads.
These players are not expected to “have fun” and I personally think it is ridiculous to take them into an Academy environment so young.
At this early age it should be, as stated by Nick Levitt himself, about enjoying playing with friends, not about trying to “impress” the Academies in the hope they may keep you on.
A player who looks really good at 8-11yrs may not necessarily be one of the “better” players by the time they reach, say 14yrs.
I am not sure if the Academy staff are aware of the rejection a young child can feel when ‘released’ and what damage it does to their confidence.
What would be the problem in just monitoring a young player that they feel may have a talent for the game and taking them into the Academy ‘system at about between 14 and16 years of age?
At least Sunday League managers and Schools District Associations are run by volunteers who give up their time to run teams and develop players for the benefit of the children and not as a business venture.
If we really want to make football more fun for all children, stopping these professionals from taking them at such a young age would be the starting point for me.
After all, how many of the thousands of 8-12yr olds taken on since the inception of the Academy system have actually gone on to be professional players or indeed even been kept on for more than a couple of years?

February 28, 2011 at 18:14

Danny Gibson says:

At long last and way overdue, logical thinking and time for all to embrace! Just hope it gets the vote to go ahead then maybe the Nation could sincerely consider being a credible contender for winning a World Cup for some time in the future! More importantly, listen to those kids and realise it’s what they want.

February 28, 2011 at 18:03

Kevin Farrelly says:

I manage and coach an u10’s team who will be going into 11-a-side for the first time next season. The team recently played in a friendly 11-a-side game and it quickly became very clear that the boys were still playing 7-a-side football Of course this came as no suprise as the step up to the larger pitch is a totally different proposition to these boys. The proposed change to go from 7v7 to 9v9 rather than straight to the 11-a-side format would be a huge step in the right direction for all grass roots football and would be a massive benefit for development of players and all those who take part. These proposals make complete sense and should have been made a long long time ago. I agree with the previous poster who suggested there should be no delay and changes should come into force for all u11’s in the 2011/12 season with u12’s staying with 11-a-side as they have played this format for this past year. Why wait?

February 28, 2011 at 17:55

chris macrae says:

Some of the proposals are fantastic especially the 9 v 9 introduction but others such as introducing 5 v 5 are questionable. I run mini soccer teams currently ATFC u7’s in Nottingham & we have a total football approach & encourage increased touches of the ball anyway which frustratingly seems to be the exception rather than rule that we come across. We do embrace small sided games in training which are proven to help technique but the average coach will still take the win at all costs approach to 5 v 5 & lose the benefit of this format so the sooner we rid the game of them the better. The Mourihno comments will be lost on them still so what will changing the format achieve? Less children will play football & you will have less people able to take them so this I am against especially when we have the correct approach to mini soccer – total football/100% development.

February 28, 2011 at 17:49

sean stobbs says:

I agree with a lot of the proposals being put forward. 9 v9 is a great idea, providing funding is available for grass roots clubs. summer football should have been implemented years ago. However the idea of football festivals of mixed teams refd by children is in my opinion unfeasible & would be anarchy. But on the whole the proposals are very positive.

February 28, 2011 at 17:44

Simon Robinson says:

I have coached my team since they were 7, coming through the friendly league to competitive under 9 football this season. We play for the enjoyment of the kids and try to make sure our parents understand that ant don’t put too much pressure on the kids
I applaud many of the inititatives above, especially the 9v9 step at 11/12 (our league already has 9v9 at u11)
However there are challenges – my club has 14 teams currently from u8 to u17, and limited space and money to implement some of these changes – the FA will need to step up and support clubs and grassroots footall for this to become a reality.
On a negative note, the suggestion of summer football I find confused and uneccessary. Many boys and girls already have commitments during the summer months with other sports such as cricket, and my pre seasons with the kids for the past 2 years have been littered with players unavavilable due to summer holidays – organising football teams and games (and pitches – many are shared with cricket!) is a challenging role at the best of times, but to have to do so agaist other sports and logistical issues adds complication where there need not be any.
If its too cold for a child to play, then it should be the responsibility of the coaches and referee to not play the fixture in the first place if the weather is inappropriate – thats something you learn as part of Child Welfare on your Level 1. No child should be forced to play in adverse weather, the adults should be responsible for that.
The idea of a winter break for juniors would be a wholly better solution between December and January (perhaps a week into Dec to midway through Jan)
I have mixed feelings on the competitive fixtures question, as most under 8’s leagues and players, despite not having results published, know who the better teams are. I’ve enjoyed our first season in competitive football, we are second bottom of our league but have again progressed as a team from where we were last season. The step to 9v9 will be a positive one, but personally I don’t think we should treat competition as a dirty word – kids are a reflection of their managers, coaches and parents, so its what we as adults instill into them that produces the ethos of the team – mine is about improvement and enjoyment, thats not the same for all the teams in our league, but thats fine (isn’t it?) – real football and competition in my mind will start at 11 a side anyway, but having leagues etc at this age now is a good thing.
The FA would be better to stop kids who play for academies and are already registered or train with clubs from playing with these age groups – one superstar player on any team at this age makes a mockery of some games – the rules are a bit grey as to who can and cannot play, and I doubt its policed at all

February 28, 2011 at 17:33

Jim Crathern says:

I have been coaching football for over 10 years. now, being with both my sons through youth football who are now 20 and 18. They both now play for a Saturday adult team that I coach where the youngest player is 17 and the eldest is only 26. I want to share something with you that struck me as being very significant. we were laying 3rd in the table, and were just about to play 2nd place. With only 1pt in it, it was an important game. We played the best football we had ever played, with our passing game absolutley superb. All our training with small sided games and lots of touches of the ball had paid off. I was buzzing and very proud of my players. So here’s the funny thing. We lost the game 1 0 in the last 5 minutes. In the changing room whilst praising the performance of my players, the elder players were swearing and moaning and threatning to quit and complaining that our season was now over. However, the younger players, though disappointed that we lost were delighted with the way we played and looked forward to playing again as soon as possible. Winning was only secondary in their eyes. So in my view, attitudes are very slowly changing in the younger generation who have been coached in clubs with qualified coaches. The above proves that. So if anything can change the way us English once viewed the game, bring it on. 5v5 7v7 9v9? More touches of the ball? Not so much inportance attached to winning? I’m all over that, Superb and about time!!!!!!!!!!

February 28, 2011 at 17:31

GT says:

While the idea of 9v9 in is great for under 11 – under 13 it will only work if duel markings are allowed on exsisting pitches, if the extra room is not available at clubs. Will the established adult leagues be up for this idea? Another way round it is if the adoption of the ethos that 5v5 – 7v7 mini soccer has in that pitches can be marked off using marker cones.

Also why the jump to full size goals at under 13 seems a strange decision. Why not keep the smaller goals until under 15. I have seen plenty of keepers struggle in adult goals at this age and what do attackers gain also. Lots of clubs have 21×7 goals on 80×50 pitches so why not use them or stick with the 16×7 for under 13. The pitch sizings again why would you want under 13 playing on full size pitch to me under 14 onwards is the minumun age this should be introduced.

No league tables untill under 12 is also a much better idea as long as there is a way of matching teams up so that games between teams are well matched. When you see scores of 11-0 who is learning certainly not the team who is getting beat but also the team who wins what have they gained apart from a coach who thinks that goal difference is all that matters.

Its too late for our current team i coach but hopefully future generations can benifit from a step in the right direction of a childrens centred approach to grass roots football on much more age appropiate pitches/ goals and team numbers, with the emphasis on their long term development.

February 28, 2011 at 17:20

Derek Graham says:

Commenting on all the proposals:
a) Increase in small-sided football – generally agree, though I would argue that 7 v 7 could be started at U8 not U9.
b) I believe 9 v 9 is an excellent intermediatery step and I and other coaches/managers I know do share the concern over the large step from 7 v 7 to 11 v 11 etc. Despite the possible difficulties , you have my full support on this.
c) Competitive – not in general agreement. Though the argument to not start competitive leages before U10 is a powerful one. But I believe ‘not before U12′ is too late. The kids enjoy the matches. Perhaps shorter ‘two-leagues’ per season (i.e. half-seasons) would be the answer.
d) Summer football – in moderation. Personally my coaches and I really need the summer break to refresh ourselves and renew our enthusiasm.
e) Age group changes – tend to agree with the new proposals.
f) Timetable seems about right.
In summary, the 9 v 9 suggestion is by far my favourite here.

February 28, 2011 at 17:06

James Byrne says:

Do the FA ever plan to look at changing youth football to run more in the summer months?

We have had so many games called off this year with snow, ice and now waterlogged pitches yet the same pitches will go unused throughout the summer months!

If they really want children to develop technically then they need to be playing on decent pitches as often as possible instead of going 2-3 months of the season without a match due to winter. World cups are always played in the summer.

Surely it would be better if youth football ran from March to November with a 4-6 week break in the middle for tournaments?

February 28, 2011 at 17:00

darran walton says:

i am coach of an under 10s team and have only been involved for 3 years but all these proposals seem very obvious to me, 10 years olds on an adult pitch is ludicrous. bring 9v9 in as early as next season, how many more kids will be turned off before the proposals are in place

February 28, 2011 at 16:51

David Rowbottom says:

While I applaud many of the initatives, we, and I would imagine many of the clubs we play against, do not have the room on our playing field for intermediate pitch and find it hard to find to get indoor facilities. Do the FA have funds available to help clubs overcome this?

February 28, 2011 at 16:41

Lewis Evans says:

I am currently the manager and head coach of an under 8’s team in Bristol, this is our last season of friendlies before we go into a league, something myself and my other coaches are dreading, we have spent three years with the same group of boys, we work on technical ability providing as many touches of the ball as possible, the boys are so keen to learn that we have found the simple games they played as reception and year 1 boys are long gone and they already understand technical drills from our level 2 football qualifications, they enjoy the decision making, the stop start ofthe coached game and ask alot of questions on how and what they are doing, once we have the pressure of league football everything will be lost, all the hard work etc as we will be under pressure to win games and succeed, if we don’t parents will take their children to other clubs leaving us in a position where we risk being beaten every week, what enjoyment will that be for the boys. I for one and I know many other coaches would like to see the abolishment of leagure football from the start of next season with maybe just an organised cup competition, playing friendlies the boys develop and learn far more and gain a greater understanding and love for the game, we’ve played with this idea for long enough, lets stop mess about and implement it NOW.

February 28, 2011 at 16:37

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