Under-8 non-competitive, the FA reply

PUBLISHED: 15:38 12 December 2008 | UPDATED: 13:58 04 March 2010

KIDS ON THE BLOCK: U8s in action

KIDS ON THE BLOCK: U8s in action

NOW I've had my say on what I think of the non-recording of league tables and results for under-8 football.



I don't pretend the FA or some in authority liked my thoughts which were basically "what a load of tosh".

BY MIKE BACON

NOW I've had my say on what I think of the non-recording of league tables and results for under-8 football.

I don't pretend the FA or some in authority liked my thoughts which were basically “what a load of tosh”.

However always the balanced sports writer, I contacted the FA to see if they would like to speak to us here at the Green'Un about how they have seen the “ban” on competitive games at this level having worked.

So it was nice to catch up with LES HOWIE, the FA's National Development Manager for Clubs and Coaches.

He's a top man, here's my report . . .

======================================

BE HONEST, we all like a winner.

It doesn't matter in what sport or even at what age, most people enjoy winning.

And in football - the country's National sport - winning and losing gives rise to all sorts of emotions, from the professional game to youth mini soccer.

So when the Football Association decided in the summer not to record results and league tables for under-eight matches, it caused a huge debate among coaches, parents and even some of the kids themselves.

Many were all for the idea, just as many were against.

So step forward Les Howie, the FA's National Development Manager for Clubs and Coaches.

It has been part of his remit, along with others, to enforce and then keep an eye on how the new regulations have fared.

His background is totally grassroots, having been a player, League secretary and vice chairman of grassroots' clubs and Leagues. He still coaches a youth side.

His manner is in direct contrast to the stuffy suited brigade so often associated with English football's governing body and he is huge grassroots fan.

He also pulls no punches on a subject he has had much correspondence on.

“Let me start by saying that not recording league tables or results for under-eight football does not mean it is non-competitive,” he states.

“I expect the half-hour of football a group of seven-year-olds have in two teams, at a weekend to be one of the most competitive half-hours of their week.

“I don't like the adjective non-competitive, there is simply no such thing.

“But whether people like it or not, human nature changes when there is suddenly something at stake.

“If you are a coach in an under-eight team and you are 2-1 up with five minutes to go, do you make a substitution just to give someone a game?

“Or do you keep things as they are, so you win?

“Even at that level the pressure is on to win, parental pressure, your own pressure as a coach. But a good coach shouldn't be put in that position at that age group.

“Of course you want to win, but a mini soccer result should be forgotten about five minutes after the game has finished.

“British nature is competitive and there's nothing wrong with that. But kids need to make mistakes, learn by their mistakes; Not be shouted at to “boot the ball”.

“They need to be encouraged to use skills. The winning just simply isn't everything.”

Les knows his views are not the way everyone sees things. But the proof in the pudding appears to be that most parents and coaches are beginning to come round to the FA's way of thinking.

“We have got to start challenging our future,” Les added. “We need better coaches. The Level One coaching badge is very popular and successful. But still only about 53% of Charter Standard clubs have Level One coaches, we want to get that to 75% soon and by 2012 we want every coach to be at least Level One standard.

“You wouldn't send your child to an unqualified dentist to have their teeth looked at, or an unqualified piano teacher to help them learn the piano.

“So why would you send your child to learn to play football with an unqualified coach?”

WHAT do you guys and girls think?

Is Les right? Are you happy with the way the non-recording of results and league tables is working? Or do you think the FA has got in all wrong?

E-mail me with your thoughts.

Because at the end of the day we all LOVE NON-LEAGUE. So let's share our thoughts.

mikebacon@archant.co.uk

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