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Home » Sport » Football

FA vote in favour of youth football reforms

The Football Association has voted in favour of bringing in new reforms to youth football, which will see youngsters in England focus on different key skills, depending on their age.

With the FA needing three quarters of the votes in favour of the move to pass, 87 per cent backed the proposals.

The proposals for the grassroots game include smaller goals on smaller pitches at nine-a-side level for under 11s and under 12s. The reforms would also see those under the age of eight play five-a-side to build upon basic skills.

Nick Levett, the FA's national development manager, told reporters: “After 138 roadshows nationwide it was fantastic to get the endorsement of the majority of the grassroots football community.

“These changes are a massive step forward for the future of children’s football in this country.”

These developments, scheduled provisionally for the start of the 2014-15 seaon, represent the biggest overhaul of youth football since the introduction of Mini-Soccer, for those under 10, in 1999.

The traditional league system for all under 11s teams will be replaced with three mini-seasons within a calendar year, which will include development matches and a competition.

As the children advance, the length of the seasons and competitions will extend and the FA hopes that this gradual incline will benefit the youngsters away from pressures elsewhere.

An official FA statement on the announcement read: "Introducing 5v5 for U7s and U8s, with progression to 7v7 and then 9v9, allows the children to play on appropriate size pitches and with appropriate size goals.

"The smaller pitch and number of players allows greater number of touches of the ball and involvement in the game, helping develop greater technical skills at a lower age.

"The move will also bring a more child friendly approach to competition, breaking up the eight-month long adult based season into smaller periods of competition which encourage increased learning.

"The proposed changes to the player pathway and competition framework if approved go hand in hand with the FA Coaching philosophy, as outlined in the FA Future Game, which gives clear guidance on how the game should be played and coached, this philosophy is embedded in The FA coaching courses, and in our own FA Tesco skills coaching programme."

The changes will allow youth football in England to reflect the development of children in Spain, where players cannot compete on a full-size pitch until the age of 14. Emphasis would be placed on passing and movement within a confined area, teaching players how to keep possession.

Gareth Southgate, the FA's Head of Elite Development, broke the news on Twitter, praising the work of Levett: "FA Council have approved Youth Dev recommendations for 5v5,9v9 +flexible competition by 87%. Huge well done to @nlevett a phenomenal effort.

Ahead of the announcement Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand took to his Twitter account in support of the idea, adding: "One thing our kids coaches don't do that foreign coaches do is teach them to pass the ball to a player under pressure..then coach one-two.

"How to protect the ball under pressure..foreign players do that much better than us...one reason why they keep possession better.

"FA coaching courses need a right old shake up in my humble opinion if we are to move forward...some real good bits but some ancient bits too."

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