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I help out with the coaching of a youth team (6 to 7) and have been on an FA coaching course, so to a tiny extent I'm part of the solution (or problem).

FYI the official FA line is to encourage mini football up to say 12ish, i.e. half size pitches, 4 to 6 a side. This is designed to force all players to get a touch and improve ball skills. We've also learnt about 20 training exercises (google names like 'diamonds are forever/find a friend/robin hood - they're FA coaching routines) designed to teach running with the ball, dribbling, etc.

One thing that really pi$$es me off though is that although competitive matches are officially discouraged until after well after 10, head coaches insist on arranging unofficial mini leagues for kids as young as 6 and 7, and on keeping unofficial league tables. I.e the skills come second to getting results, even with 7 year olds. And it's the parents and adult coaches that do this, not the kids - they'd do shooting practice, dribbling and 4 a side with their mates and wind up miles more skilful, rather than being dragged 25 miles on a rain sodden October saturday to whup Barnsdale Under 7s in front of a load of competitive mums and dads. And the kids get put under the pressure of being 'good enough' to be picked.

I'm sure this attitude at grass roots levels is one of the reasons why we swoon with amazement if the brits come up with the odd layer with ball skills like a gascoigne or rooney, when south american countries like Argentina, with a smaller population, seem to churn them out by the dozen.

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I don't really know if England need to do better at the world cup. I mean, who's going to pay for it for a start? The Premier League is a big business not some feeder league to the England team.

Yes, the FA could spend gazillions on National Academies and coach kids to play the passing game the rest of the world play but any players that get good will be snapped up by the big clubs and care more about spit-roasting Nuts models and buying pimpmobiles than England in five minutes flat.


I know of a 6 y.o. player that's been 'signed' by a big prem club. In fairness though, the standard of coaching he's getting is absolutely superb according to his dad.

On the bright side, in March 2010 England Under-17 Beat Spain 2-1 To Win UEFA European Championship.

I do despise the pimpmobile floozy roasting prem 'superstars' though - although plenty of them are foreign imports to. I quite admired World Cup medal holder Jurgen Klinsman in his spurs days, driving around london in an old VW.

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I know of a 6 y.o. player that's been 'signed' by a big prem club. In fairness though, the standard of coaching he's getting is absolutely superb according to his dad.

Poor kid. What if he might be a really talented vet, poet, bass guitarist, politician, director, accountant etc... he will never get the chance to find out. What if his knee goes when he's 16 - screwed without ever really 'making' it. I do think it's frequently highly damaging to so channel kids at such an early age: leaves so little room for experiences and choices, and realistically very few actually get to the top; for every 'Tiger' there are hundreds who committed as much but didn't get the lucky breaks and are left with relatively little and usually limited alternatives.

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