Youth football changes are afoot, but we are already on the ball

Major changes to youth football passed by the Football Association’s membership will help bring the rest of the country up to speed with Cambridgeshire.

The county has been one of the leading lights in developing the game at a junior level, and the many of the plans that were ratified by 87 per cent of the FA’s shareholders are already being implemented in Cambs.

The major changes which will affect the Cambridgeshire Mini Soccer League and the Cambridge District Colts League will involve five versus five being the mandatory format for football at under-seven and under-eight.

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

But the progression to seven versus seven and nine versus nine to allow children to play on appropriate sized pitches and goals is already practiced in Cambridgeshire.

The changes, which will be phased in for the 2014/15 season, were formulated after an extensive two-year programme of 138 consultation roadshows, including one in Cambridgeshire last June.

Chris Pringle, Cambs FA’s chief executive officer, said: “The new pathway builds perfectly on work already under way in Cambridgeshire. 

“Our 9v9 leagues for children aged 10 to 12 have now completed three successful seasons and our Age Appropriate Youth Module Coaching courses are increasingly popular. We’ve been trailblazing on the formats as we’ve had 9v9 up to under-12s anyway.

“We’re quite proud with what we’ve achieved so far but we have a long way to go.

“The perception will be the change in competition structure, that will be the departure from what feels like the traditional season.

“We also welcome the FA’s announcement of £1.5 million ring-fenced investment to support clubs’ purchasing the smaller sized goal posts through work with Sport England the Football Foundation.

“This is a very timely announcement, considering that we have a fully subscribed Youth Award Module 2 course taking place at our headquarters right now, and we are welcoming Gareth Southgate, the FA’s head of elite development, to our Kershaw Premier League dinner on Friday.”

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