To implement The Future Game playing philosophy the formats of football adopted in the grassroots game should provide young players with the opportunity to develop the skills and techniques necessary to fulfil the demands of the chosen playing approach.
The format of football is determined by: numbers of players on each team; the size of the pitch, ball and goals; the duration of the game; and the structure of the game: halves, quarters or thirds.
Research shows that the format of the game contributes significantly to the types of skill and technique developed in young players. Put simply: young players playing on a big pitch will develop different skills than those playing on a smaller pitch.
Research into the structure of youth football in this country highlighted that current formats of the game were not advantageous to the development of technically excellent players. Young players were playing on large pitches too soon, finding themselves with fewer opportunities to be involved in the game and less chance to develop their technique, skill and decision-making. Crucially, many weren’t having fun either.
Refreshed formats of football affording young players more touches of the ball and more decision-making were needed. The current system had no clear developmental process, with principles and structures more appropriate for senior players rather than children. Change was necessary.
Youth Development Review
In May 2012, after over two years’ consultation, discussion, and research, FA Shareholders voted in favour of a number of changes to youth football. The successful proposals centred on a refreshed player pathway placing the young player at the centre of the development process. The proposals are underpinned with academic research supporting learning and development and hope to enable greater participation and opportunities for development.
The agreed changes focus on two areas:
- Formats of football
To read the latest Youth Development Reviews, click on the quick links on the right hand side of this page.
Formats Of Football
Headline changes include mandatory 5v5 for U7s and U8s, and a 9v9 format for U11 and U12s.
All changes will be phased in by season 2014-15, with new formats phased in for U7s and U11s only in 2013/14 season
These changes allow children to play on appropriately sized pitches with appropriate sized goals, encouraging a greater number of touches of the ball and an increased involvement in the game. It is hoped that these changes will help young players develop better technical and decision-making skills from a younger age.
In the short-term, change is accompanied by challenge. The FA is committed to ensuring support and guidance where changes to goalposts and pitches are necessary. Sharing funding information and best practice from other leagues have been highlighted as two effective support methods.
The Surrey Youth League, with over 500 teams, successfully managed the transition to 9v9 in 2011/12. The League managed to secure a £10,000 grant through Sport England Small Grants Programme covering the cost for all of the goals at the club.
Flexibility is, however, at the heart of all the changes. In the short-term, clubs are encouraged to mark out smaller pitches using cones, bringing in the goals as necessary.
To purchase The Future Game, The FA Technical Guide for Young Player Development, or The Future Game animation resource visit: www.falearningshop.com