News & Updates

FA proposals for youth football take shape

The Football Association has published final proposals for the future of youth football in England.

The recommendations, which follow two years of research and consultation, will be put forward to County FAs before a final proposal to the National Game Board and FA Council in April.

If given the go-ahead, the radical changes to youth football – which include a new player pathway and a new approach to competitive football for all children of primary school age – will be phased in from the 2013/14 season, although leagues can adopt the changes as early as next season, should they choose to.

The proposals follow two years of research led by FA National Development Manager for Youth Football Nick Levett and his team, including a nationwide tour to discuss the proposals with grassroots coaches and league and club officials from across the country.

The plans have now been drawn up into a handy presentation for the grassroots football community, including notes and supporting information. Click the link below to view the presentation:

* FA Youth Development Proposals – Final Recommendations (P’point doc)

Whilst covering a large amount of detail, the new proposals focus primarily on three core areas:

Revised player pathway

A new player pathway will see the introduction of two new formats of the game. Under-7s and under-8s will play 5-a-side, while 9-a-side will become mandatory for under-11s and -12s and remain an option for all ages up to under-16s.

Each format of the game – 5v5, 7v7, 9v9, 11v11 – will be played on pitches of suitable sizes, with age-appropriate goal and ball sizes.

Feedback from the FA roadshows suggest that 92% of people strongly agree or agree with the new pathway, with many describing it as “just common sense”.

‘Child-centred’ competition

A new ‘child-centred’ approach to competition will see the traditional eight-month season with one league table – as used in adult football – replaced by a more flexible approach for all children up to under-11s by the 2015/16 season.

The new programme, which will ensure a greater focus on development and enjoyment for participants, will combine development matches with creative competition events, so that what children want is at the heart of the process.

The FA found that, once the new approach was clearly explained and fully understood, 97% of roadshow attendees were in favour of the new approach to competition.

Tackling the Relative Age Effect

At the start of the 2013/14 season, the youngest football age group will be selected on a calendar year basis – i.e. “2007s” – rather than the traditional under-7s.

By shifting the selection year for grassroots football away from school football – which will remain on a September to August basis – the FA hopes to reduce the Relative Age Effect on players born in the summer months, thus increasing retention of players in the game.

The FA admit that this is “the hardest concept to understand” but hope to get the grassroots community on-side for what they believe is a “world-leading” approach to this area of the game.

The times they are a-changing – tell us what you think!

These are exciting times for youth football in England so, if you haven’t already, please check out the FA’s recommendations.

Once you’ve read them, please tell us what you think.  We’d love to hear your thoughts on the final proposals – what you like most and any concerns you may have.

If you have a question about the proposals that has not been answered by the documents, you can still email them to Your input to the whole process has been invaluable, as the FA recognise in a message on their website:

“How the proposals look today from where we started two years ago is very different and this has been down to the input from the grassroots game and we thank you wholeheartedly for that. We are very excited as to what the future holds for youth football as we move towards making the game even better for young people.”

You can follow Nick Levett on Twitter – and even provide feedback – at @nlevett.


tim watson says:

re comment about secondary school kids playing with junior school kids,
erm without being rude do you actually do anything in football this scenario has always been available under the 2 year age gap rule a team playing at u12 can sign and very often do sign u11’s i myself am running my own u16 with 2 u15 in the team, i also do little league on saturdays and our teams are made up of 2 age age groups split evenly of banthams u7/u8 juniors u9/u10 intermediates u11/u12 and seniors u13/u14 little league is over 40 years old and works very well, 9v9 is a good thing and the reduced size goals will help keep the goalies from being dismayed and overwhelmed when moving up 12×6 goals having managed in football for 25 yrs on saturdays and 15 yrs on sundays i know this is a good thing

January 26, 2012 at 21:04

Bromley Removal says:

Defiantly you are saying right, for kids when they join school is the new stage, when they enter primary to secondary that’s another stage of their life, although their life change with the change in stage, but their minds also built and grow with that change,

January 26, 2012 at 08:18

Andy Harland says:

Just as a side note how do you think a secondary schoolchild would feel like playing with a junior school child, the transition from junior to secondary school is a major event in a childs life and the FA ae now mocking it, Please FA get a grip……………………………….

January 25, 2012 at 15:03

Mrs S says:

I have two children involved in football at grass routes and to be honest don’t understand it fully but the kids enjoy it and thats all that matters. With regards to the age thing apart from it being ridduculas does anyone realise that there will be one year with no kids in. The first age group will pull kids from the school year 1st Sep till 31st August whereas the next age group will only pull kids from 1st Sep until 31st Dec, how will that work??

January 24, 2012 at 19:36

Diff Robinson says:

Great idea for the kids I think but the motives are the same as ever. ie There’s got to be a way for us to win the World Cup! “Following repeated failures by the senior team at major championships” I quote. If you want some kind of formula for producing a winning England team you had better start another World War and introduce rationing. Playing football doesn’t put kids off playing football , it’s the coaches. The number of times I hear about “I don’t get paid for this” and “I give up my time to do this”. Then without any embarrassment they award their own kids “Player of the Day” or “Man of the Match”. My advice would be to any parent to check out the coaches at the club and you have a better chance of a level playing field if they don’t have kids in the squad.

January 24, 2012 at 19:09

Allen says:

For me its long overdue, to review the foundation of the game. Of course it looks different from where everyone stands. If you think you have the next Pele or Messi, or if you want you kids to enjoy and engage the great game.

Smaller sided matches seem good, to encourage more engagement. Although it would seem that 5×5 might be too small outdoors. Perhaps this is more suited to futsal indoors..?

Either way i’m no expert and i have not got the information at my disposal that the FA gained to make this road map.

But i do applaud the desire to change, and from change we stimulate thought, perhaps the main element that helps improve things.

January 24, 2012 at 15:59

Andy Harland says:

As an under 13’s coach fortunatley the upcoming changes will not effect us but my deepest commiserations to those that they will.
Whilst the transition from 6 aside on a 60 x 30 pitch up to 11 aside on a full size pitch was daunting to say the least it went without hitch.
The reason for this was we ran 2 equally balanced 6 aside teams with 1 – 2 subs per team so the progression up from 6 to 11 aside meant we had a 15 player squad each playing a role in the new 11 aside team and ith equal playing time.
The problem I forsee it there wil be too many step ups in player numbers with the end result of not having enough players and teams folding or having an abundabce of players at 9 v 9 level and the average player dropping out due to spending too much time on the subs bench whilst the better players get to play the full game, because lets all face up to it that is what WILL happen. Despite what the FA seem to think we all want to win even a 6 year old.

January 23, 2012 at 18:59

leigh ashworth says:

Our local league has been implementing some of these ideas over the last couple of years, I currently run an u8s team and assit an u11s team, our u8s played 5v5 at u7s indoor and are now playing 6v6 indoor and 7v7 outdoor with the season split 60/40 indoor and outdoor, our u11s are palying 9v9. And to be honest everyone of these changes has had its positives, the use of indoor facilities has been great, our 7s and 8s have been playing football all through DEC and now into JAN where the other age groups are off. There rae a couple of points though that I think when our league hails this approach as a success are missed and really need to be part of our focus. The use of good facilities is paramount to development football, I do not believe that playing on 20 degree incline pitches Knee deep in mud helps anyone, the FA needs to help develop better facilities up and down the country, the second point is our insistance on not looking at the blindingly obvious point of taking winter breaks, why on earth do we insist on sending kids out in the depths of winter to play on pitches that are being torn apart, has anyone ever tried to play a pass and move style game on a mud bath.

One thing that has worked really well has been development games mixed with three week cup style competitions, when i look at past seasons with our u11s often there are teams taht by the haly way point have nothing to play for and i can imagine some of the interest level is hard to maintain.

As clubs we need help on getting grants and funding for ground development projects and equipment, the ideas of smaller sided games are good but it requires more coaches and more equipment all of which cost money. If th emoney comes then most items seem godd ideas.

On the age section to be quite honest it is shifting the problem the reason for this is that although the FA is saying for schools it will stay the same so each system will support the other , the investment in scholl football is pretty poor, my eldest was not even allowed to play for his scool until year 5 and has maybe played for 3 months each year, school football is wofelly managed and does nothing to develop kids. What needs to change is our approach to spotting kids with talent, I had approaches from a number of premiership sides to take some of our kids to development centers and I am always amazed that they never ask for the dates of births of any of the kids all they seem to see is the big kids, i even had one guy loose interest in one of our kids because his parents were too small. I am also continually disappointed with the lack of lower league club involvement in grass roots, I never see any scouts other than premiership scouts at our games and to be honest they just seem to treat the kids as a commodities, this just results in the talent been wisked off behind closed doors at premiership clubs to spend there footballing careers warming benches round the country, we need to get more of our talent playing in the leagues long term, how i am not sure, but todays systems is not working

January 23, 2012 at 16:37

Peter Hucker says:

agree with the majority
been running teams for 20 years (we have around 25 teams per season from u7 – u16)
the FA only have interests in themselves not the kids
Im sick and tired of being told what to do by people who have absolutely no interest or idea of what my 400 + players want.
They want to enjoy themselves and if we played 20 v 20 they would, because of the atmosphere we create.
If it isn’t fun……………it isn’t football.
We introduced a system of no bookings and no sendings off in our league. encouraging a system that if a player deserved to be off the pitch the ref would order the coach to replace him so as not to harm the rest of his team mates. As such their were no fines, you should have heard the uproar from our FA all they cared about was how much revenue they would lose out on. I was fined £10 for not putting a full stop on a result card for a cup game !!!!!!!!!!
Its all they are interested in as for 9-a-side there are no smaller pitches where we are, so our games are played on 11 – a-side pitches. by 40 minutes ALL the players are so tired any technique we teach goes completely out of the window.
Its about time we the real people of grass roots football rose up and took our game back. Let the professional clubs cream our best players off and turn them into FA robots (as they do now) but leave the rest of us to enjoy the game.
By the way I have NEVER seen a match that was not competetive (at any age group) whether the FA tell us it is or not

January 23, 2012 at 15:14

jo chamberlain says:

Why change the age range kids football when the pitch, and lack of toilets and changing rooms should be addressed if the FA want to improve this game. We were told that we would all be fined if our kids had to go to toilet in the bush. After travelling to away matches with no facilities, playing 35 mins of football each way, extra time then penalties. In total left house 3 half hours before. My son who is a goalie had to play with a full bladder. After the game we then witnessed six dogs and owners go straight onto pitch and some dogs went to toilet. Nice. The FA is quick to.penalise but I would like to know when someone will address this matter.

January 23, 2012 at 14:54

Adrian S. says:

Have got to agree with Ian F. comments above. 5v5 Small sided football is farcical using standard football rules. Most dead ball situations (Corners, thrown-ins, free-kicks, etc) just become silly. I can understand the idea that we need the children to have more possesion of the ball, less running about without a ball at their feet but to effectively move to a 5v5 format also needs rule changes to remove stop dead ball situations. The problem then is that the children will feel the game is not ‘proper’ football as seen on the TV.

January 23, 2012 at 11:57

Ian. F says:

I have been helping to run a Grass Roots club for 8 years now.
Just like everyone else in our area, not one club that we have spoken to was asked for their input or opinions on these matters, once again it feels that at grass roots level, the F.A. have forgotten to ask the people who are actually the most qualified (regardless of the Coaching Badge Level) to answer their questions because if they had, then they would realise in no uncertain terms that their ideas of changing the age groups is possibly the most preposterous yet & will turn quite a lot of youngsters away.
Once again it would appear that the FA are blindly following our European counterparts, remember a few years ago that it was all about playing ‘The Dutch’ way? This is how ‘mini’ soccer came about and now it is all about ‘The Barcelona & Spain’ way?
The kids who will be playing in the playgrounds together and for their Schools together will suddenly not be eligible to play on the same team on a Sunday! This has got to be the most half baked scheme yet!

The idea of 9v9 in my personal opinion is long, long overdue, it is the natural progression from 7 a side before going to 11 a side. Professional Academies have been playing 9v9 for a long time now as it is a natural progression.

5v5 Small sided football needs to be left long in the past as it is almost farcical watching u7 & u8’s who are still learning the game, trying to take corners for example…for the attacking team, 1 player stays in goal, 1 stays back to defend, 1 takes the corner leaving 2 players in ‘The area’ leaving a 5v2 scenario! Really!? Most Premiership clubs would not even attempt those odds on a corner yet we expect 6 & 7 year old children to not only do it but also score!!! Is this really teaching them the game?

Obviously the F.A. will be giving overly generous financial support to purchase the extra goal posts that we will all need and also be offering financial support to help get the pitches resized and in many places relocated to new sites whilst offering compensation to the clubs who have purchased 21×7 posts in the last 12 months that will now pretty much become defunct…

January 23, 2012 at 01:37

Tony Wood says:


Q. Will you change existing teams?
A. No. There will be no changes to any existing teams. It will be phased in like the other changes and
therefore the children in those teams will just have that set of friends for football, effectively not
knowing a different system. Where they have made the change in other countries, they have found
they have increased participation and the children have been absolutely fine. Other countries have
split school/club football and have had no negative impacts.

January 22, 2012 at 20:55

Tony Wood says:

As I have read this and been explained this will only affect new teams at the start of the 2013/14 season (children born in 2006 or younger) the FA do not want to distrupt existing teams however it appears that Leagues may read into this and enforce this changes through all levels but they do NOT need to do this they too can just enforce this for new teams of the 2013/14 season and leave all the others alone.

January 22, 2012 at 20:52

Sajj Akram says:

A bunch of fools trying to put the blame on grass roots instead of the academies and the overpaid footballers in this country! Ive been coaching 11 years and changing the age group is the most ridicilous thing ive heard

Also, the FA are full of it! They had select coaches and clubs involved in discussions…namely FA coaches who dont have their own teams!

January 22, 2012 at 16:29

Martin says:

The concept of 9v9 is positive but the non-competitive angle is questionable. Will schools also cease to grade children based on ability or cease to hold exams?
For the 2012/13 season I understand that 9v9 is voluntary, surely when the teams come together at u14’s the side that has already had 2 years of playing 11v11 will have an advantage? It should be all or nothing.

January 21, 2012 at 22:34

Granville Marriott says:

I manage an U8 team in Barnsley. We are lucky in a sense that we have 3 teams at this age group alone and 32 players registered at this group.

However I can guarantee once the new age struture comes in this would not happen again. The reason for this is when we recruited from schools we had groups of friends from school who knew each other and came because their friends were coming. We decided that teams would be structured where friends from schools were together and not on ability. We do not have an A, B, or C team as they are mixed ability but they are not driven by winning but playing with and for their friends.

This new age structure being proposed from my prospective will stop players joining has they can’t be with their friends, yet they will in the school team (that is if they decide to do so). This would mean a loss of potential talent (which is why we are looking at developing youth football).

Secondly I can see teams and clubs folding as recruiting for new players will be a night mare. Leaflets for advertisement are not cheap but you will double the cost as two year groups are required. It is also confusing as now I would advertise for year 3. These new guidelines I would have to say to young children as long as you are born between these dates you can play.

This will also cause upset as I can guarantee there will be children who think they can play, turn up for training but will unfortunately be turned away for being too young/old but see thier friends play.

Cloud cuckoo land if the FA think that this is practical, children won’t be affected, numbers playing won’t be reduced, clubs will not struggle to maintain coaches players (especially small clubs) etc.

Get real and no wonder we struggle as a nation when we have ideas like this develop.

I will finish with a positive I like the new structure in 9v9 etc as long as the FA will be helping to fund the cost of pitches for clubs as councils will transfer the costs to the clubs during the economic downturn.

January 21, 2012 at 15:56

Jason Steer says:

Who have the FA really asked here? Kids who have been playing together at school (and in other sports) would have to be separated. teams would have to disband. Can’t understand the logic of calendar ages.

If the FA REALLY want to get more kids involved:

1) Put a mid season break in place and extend the season at grass roots level. This would ensure kids play in better weather conditions, on better pitches, pitches themselves wouldn’t have to suffer from excessive use during winter. The advantages are numerous. The only disadvantage is the age old issue of cricket. Well, get real FA, football is 20x bigger than cricket in terms of participation, etc.

2) Improve the standards of coaching. The FA seem to be losing focus on this. Please try harder and divert some of the cash into developing and improving coaching at grass roots level.

3) Facilities. We are, as a nation, bursting at the seams with a lack of facilities and decent playing surfaces at grass roots. Money needs to be invested into maintaining these facilities and providing better pitches and this, in conjunction with the government, should be the FA’s priority.

4) Please reconsider the proposal on age groups. It makes no sense, breaks up teams and doesn’t align with school years. How will this really make our game better, all the letters seems to be saying the same.
Just changing age groups, making younger teams play 5 aside, extending 9 aside, is just skirting round the real issues that need addressing.

Well done the FA, you have just wasted a fortune that could have been put to better use elsewhere and simply doesn’t address or identify with the real world of grass roots youth football. You should have made it compulsory for clubs to complete a survey via their county FA to get a real response and then you would have got the real answer we needed to improve our game.

January 20, 2012 at 20:58

Graham B says:

Having been involved in junior football now for over 17 years & currently president of a club with 17 teams from U7 to adult whilst being secretary for a facility provider which currently has to accommodate in excess of 40 teams of those age groups of both male and female gender, I am having difficulty in seeing how all of the suggested amendments can be accommodated .
We are privileged to have sufficient land to put football on in its current format, but to try and accommodate 9v9 on junior pitches which are currently set up for age groups 11 to 14 @ 11v11 is wrong. We cannot reduce the size of these pitches without incurring huge costs, so you have to ask less players per match to cover more ground,
quite how this can be good for the development of our wonderful game is beyond me.
I know that on the continent they play the year born age grouping but for me this impedes development as you will always have school age groups and the younger players within the birth year will always suffer due to maturity that comes from school age group development, so for me once again the Southgate proposals have considerable flaws.

January 19, 2012 at 21:54

Harry says:

Only concern is new AGE GROUPS.. u will have in the future primary school children playing in the same team as secondary school children. KEEP it simple and let school friends play in same teams. U will lose players by stopping them playing with friends in their class… Also in 2013/14 you will have Dec 2006 born children having to start as u8s when only 6yrs 8mths… This will be a 16 month age band for these players always.. Watch this age group drop out in droves. Please see sense FA and keep school years…. Other proposals I agree with…

January 18, 2012 at 21:17

paul - Kent says:

Youth Coach 7 years… Having looked at the proposals I tend to agree with them. Smaller goals and pitches with reduced players has to make sense. Nopublished league tables until u12s not quite convinced… BUT new age grouping, cannot understand. Just shifting advantage now to Jan – April born players and stopping classmates from playing in the same team.. Poor reccommendation.

January 18, 2012 at 15:56

Omar says:

Its about time something is being done but countries like Germany implemented this years ago! The restults of our German freinds spoke for itself at the last World Cup. You did not need two year of consulting for that, what a waste. There is so MUCH more that needs to be done for England to produce quality players. I grew up on council estates and yet you still see signs ‘No Ball Games Allowed’, still this did not deter too many youngsters but there was no replacement venues for kids like us. I’ve seen so much talent go to waste becasue of English redtape. In most European countries you’ll find many football style cages built within parks for kids to use at no cost, yet here in England you’ll be lucky to find goal posts in the park. Well I suppose the only way we’ll know if this programmed has worked will be in about 20 years time! But please don’t stop what your doing, this is the first step there is a lot more that needs to be done. You live in a great multi-cultural society that has the talent and potential to produce some great English players.

January 18, 2012 at 13:05

Andy S says:

Great news! The current focus at a junior level on winning at all costs favours the bigger (and often less skillful) players who can boot the ball further and harder, at the expense of the more skillful players. The 9v9 transition is particularly beneficial.

This WILL help English football.

January 17, 2012 at 11:50

scott elliott says:

I think the changes are good but not to sure on the 5 v 5 at u7’s and 8’ are reducing the ammount of players/spaces a team needs to actually play.I know,you have roll on roll off in place for this which is a good thing but your reducing player game time. e.g..7v7,9 players per team..2 player rotational on/off all get good game time.5v5,9 players per team (not that a 5 v 5 team would go with 9 players but hey,I’m feeling generous) and 4 player rotation on/off….not so good.In essence bar the goalkeeper,each player plays just 1 half.If you feel 5 v 5 is that important at that age group then why not introduce an appropriate training session to incorporate this at grassroot level 1?

January 17, 2012 at 01:27

John Gilding says:

See Simon Robinson comments. I agree with just about all of them.
Kids in the same class suddenly can’t play football together because of the age change. Reason is crazy. There has to be a cut off somewhere so why change the present one which works in schools.
Who pays for all these different size pitches and goals etc?

7 a side up to age Under 12s is good. Smaller goals and skill encouraged. 9 a side on a 3/4 pitch with medium goals is good, still skill encouraged. When they progress to full size pitch and goals they are ready for proper football. Skill is encouraged at training sessions and comes through in skill on the pitch. Daughter played at Cobblers Cof E last season and training was excellent. Ruined by the coach during matches and when Cobblers lost Cof E status in FA cutbacks, a very good side was disbanded. Some to other CofEs with mega travelling at a time when they have GCSEs. Daughter back in grassroots football, enjoying it along with 3 other of last year’s Cof E players.

Don’t let the FA screw up again….. Change for no reason. We need to encourage the kids in deprived areas as they have the desire and drive to succeed to improve their lot, as in the past with the Glasgow kids. Brilliant comitted footballers. Even they have gone soft now, look at Scottish football.

January 17, 2012 at 01:05

daz wilkie says:

hi dpope, i would have that thought that sky of all people would be very interested after all they do plough large amounts of money into our beloved sport and they do love controversy how many times do they need to show that a referee/third official got a decision wrong.

ask them mate we might all get a suprise

January 16, 2012 at 17:28

Simon Robinson says:


I really do appreciate the efforts of the guys creating these jobs for themselves (sorry, proposals for youth football), they are very misguided.

Why would you want to stop kids playing with their mates from the same school year? Thats what half of them play for – to enjoy playing with their mates

What happens to my u10s, who go 11 a side (on an appropriate pitch) next season, do you force them back to 9v9 the season after?

Who is going to pay for all these pitches and markings? Its hard enough to find shared space now, without daft size pitches for each age group.

Our councils are skint now, they will charge a fortune for all the extra work and maintenance!

As somebody has mentioned, the main attendees of the roadshows are established clubs with super facilities, the ‘nodding dogs’ who approve all of this, and who can afford to pay for all the stuff

Half of my kids are underpriveledged and are subsidised by the hard work of the volunteers (remember that word) who turn up every week regardless of the weather, who pay to go on courses for FA badges, CRBs, First Aid (and the rest of the money making racket) etc

You honestly couldnt make it up – bring this stuff in for academies and the pro side of the game, leave the kids and coaches to enjoy grassroots football – Mini Soccer is fine as it is, the debate on 9v9 is valid until the kids move to 11s.

Competition is good, leave the league structures alone and stop interfering!

(My team are second bottom of our league by the way, it doesnt dimish our enjoyment or joy at picking up a point or a win! Even in defeat we praise good play and effort!)

Some kids are better at football than others, some teams are better than others, a bit like life. The really good kids are picked up by academies and centres of excellence – make them follow your path, not the rest of us.

Locally, there is a lot of chat in our leagues and as teams that should this become FA Law, many of us will arrange our own games and leagues outside of this, then you will lose control altogether. It shouldnt come to that.

January 16, 2012 at 17:12

dpope says:

Hi Daz – a webchat has been discussed with the FA & is something we’d like to arrange at some point. Can’t promise that Sky/BBC will be too interested though!

January 16, 2012 at 13:53

daz wilkie says:

ive just read through mr southgates comments again and the posts of concerned managers and club secretarys, why doesnt the fabulous clubwebsite organise a live televised debate with southgate/levitt in one corner and mr daz wilkie and concerned in the other. sky sports/ bbc/ itv could all be invited and we could have an actual debate, rather than lemmings just nodding at some road show.

come MR stenson sur you guys could organise this

January 16, 2012 at 12:42

Andy Lowe says:

Can I ask who sits & decides these decisions regarding the developement of our beautiful game? obviously someone that has no idea what problems that changing the age banding will cause for the majority of junior teams. Why not address problems in football by putting some of the monies made at county level back in to football by helping develope coaches & clubs in the community areas making football more accessable financially for more kids & letting clubs attract people who want to help & develop the kids from a young age which will then develop the grass root base that the F.A keep banging on about.

January 16, 2012 at 12:37

Louis Stallman says:

This is all completely irrelevant! The F.A are too engaged in the ‘structure’ of the game at grassroots rather than the biggest problem that it has had for years, regardless of the ages and competition structure… and that is that the standard and number of qualified coaches must be increased! And the courses made both more accessible and affordable! Once that is right and the future of English football is being coached properly, then you can decide if these re-structuring issues need to be addressed as an ADDITION to good coaching!!!

January 16, 2012 at 02:19

Jon says:

The proposal the FA are making are fantastic.

My only thought from this is, I would have liked the 7 v 7 to run through to U13. My reasoning for this is 95% of students in the first two years of school cannot kick a ball with technique, this obviously includes many whom play for teams on a weely basis.

Playing the shorter passing game will increase further time for development, as in Holand

PE Teacher & UEFA Licenced Coach

January 16, 2012 at 00:46

David Froggatt says:

Hows does forcing children to play against or with children of a different school year make for ptogress – Children will just lose confidence by playing against bigger & stronger players – CRAZY.

January 15, 2012 at 19:47

Garry says:

By the way 20 years ago the FA were peddling the virtues of one Charles Hughes. Which just goes to show what a joke they are in thinking they know best. It is like a communist state when waht we need is diversity with the leagues able to choose the format based on the local needs and if it is a successful as the FA think then all will follow suit.

January 15, 2012 at 18:55

Garry says:

The professional game has no real interest in grassroots football. The FA should be permanently split with grassroots football aministering the game for non professional clubs as currently there is a conflict of interest.

When did Gareth southgate suddenly become an expert on grass roots football. The proposals have the potential to kill grassroots football and damage the incredible hard work that has been done by youth leagues that have in some cases 70 teams per age group. All the propaganda highlights beautiful 3G pitches with spray paint etc these proposals are not inclusive and in many run down areas grassroots may die altogether.

Someone needs to brave enough to say enough is enough and challenge these ridiculous proposals that will destroy our game. who cares about the national team any way, the academies can do and always have done exactly what they like so why mess around with the format of our grassroots game.

Why for such a monumental change have the member clubs not had the opportunity to vote? The reason is it would be voted down and they know it.

January 15, 2012 at 18:44

Kev says:

I run a team of Under 10s they’ve been together since they were 7, if we change the age rules this would mean they couldn’t continue as they are because some were born before and after xmas. They are in the same schoolyear and this is how it should stay.

January 15, 2012 at 11:21

Bobby Charlton says:

What a crock! The kids should compete with other children from their appointed school year. This has always been the way it is done, so why change it? Academic and sporting levels, should be kept on par, as they are being eductated from the same time in both disciplines, thus creating a level playing field. Why does the FA percieve, that by changing the current system it will benefit the kids, or the national game in any way.WISH I HAD MORE PAGE SPACE TO RANT!

January 14, 2012 at 23:35

Steve Ford says:

I agree with everything except the ages, my players want to play with their friends and use it as a social event. it doesn’t matter if you go from Jan – Dec players will still be playing against players who are physically bigger. Keep the school years system it’s easy by changing it I know I’ll lose players and they will leave the game to play other sports

January 14, 2012 at 19:51

Andy Hollyhead says:

You are always going to have issues when some kids are older than others within age groups .

We are cateogorising everything by age and not necessarily abilty which is another factor.

There are some players so gifted that they could play well above their age group .

Its a tough one .

I believe the move to 9 v 9 is a good step at under 11.

January 14, 2012 at 11:21

Daniel Speller says:

I just love all the recommendations especially those affecting primary aged children. The system as it stands is totally wrong. Every sunday morning just turns into over serious dads treating each game like it’s the FA cup final! It’s ridiculous. The poor kids aren’t learning cos they’re scared to make a mistake. There’s far too much pressure on them. I can’t wait for the changes to be made. My older son missed out but my younger son will play 9v9 at U11’s which is great. A full size pitch for U11’s has been a complete joke with the biggest kids dominating. No wonder we’re a long way from producing the next Lionel Messi here in England!!

January 13, 2012 at 22:49

dpope says:

Re: Jason

The idea is that shifting the age groups means that summer-born kids aren’t the youngest in BOTH school football & grassroots (weekend) football.

There will always be a youngest bunch in each group, but if you create two bias points (one in each form of the game) then you at least reduce the effects.

Dan Pope
CW editor

January 13, 2012 at 19:08

Jason Hope says:

Surely we will just move the problem of children dropping out from Q4 (summer birthdays) to those with birthdays Oct-Dec.

January 13, 2012 at 17:43

Sandra Grout says:

Children like to play football with their friends. They usually go to school with their friends who are in the same class or year as themselves. They will not be able to play football with their friends if their friends are born in a different calendar year to them. I think using the existing school year age band is fine. I know how left out my son was when his “older” class mates could do things for say 8 year olds and he couldn’t join in until June.

January 13, 2012 at 16:49

martin dean says:

I wonder if the people behind these decisons actually coach and manage grassroots teams if they did they would understand that the real problems lie with the acadamy’s who are to powerfull for them to touch.

January 13, 2012 at 16:12

daz wilkie says:

ive asked nick levitt on several occasions to explain how he sees teams and clubs getting from 5v5 to 11v11 when most clubs struggle to get enough volunteers to run the sides we have know.
how many 5 aside teams do they envisage each club having to start with to be able to carry enough players to get to 11 aside. the number of managers required will have to at least double for 5v5 or the amount of time an existing manager is at games will double.

AND how on earth does the moving of age banding make the game any better at all you play in your school year its just natural y have kids playing across school years. i for the life of me do not see how this is a positive step

January 13, 2012 at 14:50

Nigel says:

Small sided games are the only way to go, in
northern ireland we have been running this for 5 years already. Age groups are also by calender year not school year with no problems at all, as it is non competitive and if a kids ability suits a year younger then we play him. It is about playing football not winning leagues.
You have to stop thinking of your own personal gains and work for the kids gains.
I agree there is a massive problem with facilities for 5v5 to 9v9 and this is we’re all FA’s will need to get there cheque book out!!!
Locally we make sure the council does this and remind them of the need for kids playing sport.


January 12, 2012 at 01:09

Nick L says:

Re. Scott Upton

Surrey Youth League is a 500-team league, but not all those play 9v9. The League applied for funding and paid for all the goals, offering them back out to the clubs therefore taking away the burden on them.

Funding is available, as per the notes on the slideshow.

January 11, 2012 at 22:18

Aaron lennon says:

I do not agree about the ages, everyone in the country goes by school years, you’ll be making children play against children that are in a different school year.

January 11, 2012 at 17:20

Scott Upton says:

I personally think its a pile of pooh! No thought has been given to who is going to pay for all this additional equipment. it’s a vast sum, and it’s needed over a short period of time.

The FA say that 500 teams have gone to 9v9 in Surrey and that they received a £10,000 grant from ‘Sport England’ to pay for this. That works out to just £20 a team!

The FA propaganda has more holes in it than my local teams football pitch!

January 11, 2012 at 13:33

Craig says:

We at Buckhurst Hill FC in Essex have already started the planning for the age groups in birth years and as such have two Under 7’s for next season (2012/13), plus we have children already enjoying short coaching sessions for 2007 age group.

Additionally we have waiting lists for 2008 & 2009 year groups. We are looking to get funding for new 9v9 goals and are planning to have mini soccer pitches for 5v5, 7v7 & 9v9 to complement our 11v11 pitches. We are fortunate to have the pitch space available, plus the backing of the committee and volunteers to implement the changes as quickly as needed.

One issue we are seeing is that for the age group 2007 there are more children as it will run from September 2006 to December 2007. Again the older children born towards the end of 2006 are going to have an advantage over ones born in December 2007. There will be a lot more teams to cope with, especially at 5v5 when more volunteers and pitches will be needed.

Currently we have 24 children being coached at that age, which for us equates to at least three teams plus a further 25 children on a waiting list. We do not judge the children on ability and can only offer spaces when someone leaves.

January 10, 2012 at 13:38

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