Climbing the ladder
Wednesday, 24 August, 2011
John Peacock believes tournament football is vital for players' futures.
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John Peacock will tonight take charge of a new crop of England U17 internationals for the first time when the Young Lions take on Italy in the opening match of The FA International U17 Tournament.
The Head Coach has inherited this latest batch of talented youngsters from Kenny Swain, who took charge of them last season as U16s, and will look to further guide them towards a lengthy international career.
This annual Tournament, which this year also features Czech Republic and Portugal, has now become an established part of the U17 calendar. England have lifted the trophy a record five times since its inception in 1999, and Peacock believes this exposure to tournament football will only benefit these young players in the future.
“Tournament football is a different proposition to playing on a weekly basis and, as a country, we must give our players this exposure,” said Peacock, who has been in charge of the U17s since 2002.
“Within this age group we hold a very good record of reaching UEFA Final competitions over the last ten years. We have reached five European Championship semi-finals, we were runners up in 2007 and eventually won the competition for the first time in 2010; an impressive record by any nation’s standards. We have also reached two FIFA World Cup quarter finals and all of these tournaments have proved a great learning curve for the players.”
Peacock generally uses this Tournament as preparation for the First Qualifying Round of the UEFA European U17 Championship, which, for England, will take place in Bosnia & Herzegovina in late October.
Italy and Portugal have been regular participants over the years, with the latter having won the competition three times. Italy lifted the prize in 2005, but England are the current holders as Nathaniel Chalobah captained last year’s U17s to glory at the start of a campaign which only ended in June, at the quarter final stage of the World Cup.
With another campaign, and potentially five more tournaments, in the offing, the Head Coach says he hopes his squad can marry results with long-term development.
“The debate about winning versus development is an interesting one,” he said. “Our belief within The FA is that while winning is important, it should not be at the expense of developing players long term.
“It is important to teach them that possession-based football, with penetration, and when to do so, is fundamental if we are to produce quality teams and players of the future.
“Development and winning can therefore go together; it is all about creating the right environment for players to flourish. The importance of qualifying for UEFA and FIFA Finals cannot be underestimated as it gives the players different problems to overcome and exposure to the best teams in Europe and across the globe.
“This statement can be best summed up by last year’s group, who, in less than a nine-month period played in meaningful competitions against France, Netherlands, Uruguay, Argentina and Germany, not to mention two African nations; a fantastic football education in the space of just one season.”