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What Is The FA Doing To Help The Players Of Tomorrow?

6 years ago
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I saw Greg Dyke recently on TV from England’s new academy, speaking about development and about great footballers to come out of the north east over the years and he said something about wanting to continue this.

It got me thinking about exactly what did he mean? Was he serious? I know he is serious about supplying future talent for the national team, to ensure it does well at international tournaments, simply because our country comes in for massive stick from the media and others when it fails to deliver and fingers are pointed at the amount of overseas guys playing in our top league.

Alan Shoulder and The Mighty Spartans Team Of The 70s

Well we all know The FA play a massive part in football at all levels but from my experience at grassroots level, I am far from convinced that the FA are serious enough about improving things long term in making improvements to add to Mr. Dyke’s ambition of providing top class youngsters to one day represent our country at European and World tournaments. I am not even sure if the FA takes enough responsibility regarding development.

Why do I think like this? Well, again we are meant to have the richest league in the world, yet in my opinion not enough money is passed down to grassroots to develop coaches as we have a very disappointing numbers of qualified coaches compared to many other countries.

We have many young unemployed youths who are about to drop out of football or can’t afford to play/travel/fed up with the game etc, so why aren’t the FA picking up this potential and redirecting them into coaching or refereeing for example? Is money made available for improving facilities?

In my opinion, if facilities are provided I am happy to stand by my view that whatever it is be, be it a swimming pool or tennis court etc, it will get used in this country. I look around countries in Europe where I have been and facilities are well used and accessible and affordable, hence why we under perform in certain sports perhaps?

Making money available is one thing but investing in people to create a new culture of development is crucial to our future and sport is also a massive employer, and could be bigger, as it helps train and inspire others. I know we heard enough of this chat during the Olympics but back to footy and I do appreciate there are lots of genuine people at the FAs up and down the country trying their best and thousands of people doing this all for free, but I think these same people are being let down by their organisations with the lack of help and support and direction, many in my opinion just being reactive to FA HQ rather than being proactive and leading the way.

Yes more can be done and I know Trevor Brooking is a genuine hard working guy who is trying to make inroads in this area, and has had many small successes, which in a few years will make a difference. In the meantime though we have local leagues run by the FA who insist on charging youths £10 for a yellow card and up to £35, depending on the reason, for a red card offence. This charge is set by FA HQ. I am sorry but it comes across like a bit of a money making exercise if you ask me. Jeez can you imagine the amount of money the FA is bringing in each weekend across the country in all the leagues it runs and is this fine money being ring fenced to go back into improving the league, or is it used for other purposes? I do seriously wonder and I am very concerned. I often wondered what the FA are there for sometimes because I sometimes doubt the priority is always the development of the players. This needs to be looked at and addressed and a possible solution and plan to be activated as our fame for having the biggest drop out rate in Europe will continue.

I mean many of these older teenagers don’t even earn a living for goodness sake and being punished financially will drive them away from our game. Greg needs to have a look into this because surely an alternative such as warning a player or racking up a points total, then suspension, is far better than taking excessive amounts of money from young players, or should I say parents, because it’s likely it’s the parents who are having to pay for the child.

Also, what about kids not playing the same teams and players each season and the teams who are progressing have more competition. Do we have a system in place so that towards the end of the season the best teams at that age level are playing other teams of similar quality from other areas?

Why can’t this be done? If it takes more staff so be it. I am sure some associations have the resources to employ more administrators, if not funding is probably available, or better still use some of the yellow/red card money.

I could go on more but lastly what are our senior clubs doing in the north east, or more to the point what are they not doing, regarding helping and support leagues, one of  which happens to be one of the strongest leagues in the country and has dominated the FA Vase in recent years? Are they really bothered? Are they taking their youth and reserves teams around the region? Are they opening up their facilities or would they prefer to let them sit idle half the week? I really would like to know who is leading the way in bringing the next Alan Shoulder out of the northern league and into top class football.

Our kids deserve better. Over to you Mr.Dyke.

Rant over.

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