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FA votes for youth football changes

FA approves progressive pathway for kids.
A lot of work has been going on behind the scenes at the FA and grass roots football clubs up and down the country over the past two years.
Why? Because the FA has grown tired of the continued under-performance of the England football team and has realised that the problem has to be tackled at the very start – at grass roots level. This means clubs just like ours hold the future of English football in our hands.
The FA have investigated how other countries do it – Spain, France, Germany, etc – and this has influenced their recommendations. These changes have been presented to clubs nationwide at a series of roadshows over the last 9 months and HTJFC have sent a number of managers and the Chiltern Church Junior League a number of officials to several of these roadshows to make sure our voice is heard. Both the Club and the League are fully supportive of these changes, the details of which will emerge in the next few weeks.
The two main changes are:
1. Progressive pathway. Instead of the current mini-soccer (7v7) till under 10s, then straight into 11v11 with full-size goals, there will now be 5v5 to u8, 7v7 to u10, 9v9 to u12, then 11v11. Pitch and goal sizes will gradually increase as the player works through the age bands. This gives younger kids more touches on the ball “never more than one kick away from the ball”.
2. Less competition and more coaching. We are yet to learn the detail here but managers sadly have a tendancy to play their strongest team in matches where, arguably, it is the weakest players that need more time on the ball. Competition won’t be banned as it is recognised this is healthy for kids. But instead of a season-long league we are expecting short-duration mini-competitions interspersed with training periods.
To give everyone time to adjust, these changes won’t be imposed next season but the season after (2013-14). Also, they will roll in progressively, meaning that the under 7s of 2013-14 will play to the new rules but the under 8s will stick to the old rules until they get to u11 when they will play the 9v9 game.
However, your ‘state-of-the-art’ Chiltern Church League want to introduce the u11 change a season early, ie this coming September will probably see the u11s playing 9v9. There was full support from all the clubs at a league meeting last week to discuss the details and all its waiting for is formal ratification at the League AGM next month.
So in summary, we are expecting no changes next season except at u11s who will play 9v9. But the season after we are expecting u7s, u11s and u12s to play to the new rules with everyone elso on the old rules.
Kevin Bennett, Secretary

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