National plans For Youth football debated

A KEY FA figure spoke about the latest proposals to improve youth football to members of the Suffolk grassroots football community.

Nick Levett, the FA’s National Development Manager for Youth and Mini Soccer, spoke to clubs, leagues, referees, coaches, and players as part of an ongoing consultation programme as the FA looks to develop youth football for the 21st century.

“What the kids want from the game and their lives are inherently different from when we started playing football,” he told a packed room at the Holiday Inn in Ipswich on Monday.

The FA has been undertaking research and consulting with children, young adults, leagues, clubs and grassroots coaches across England over the last two years to gain a greater understanding of how youth football can be improved.

This process finished in September 2011 and has since been seen by a number of internal committees at the FA.

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The next steps are to consult with County FAs on the final recommendations in April and then the final proposals will be debated by the FA Council in May.

Nick’s presentation, entitled Developing More and Better Players, focused on three areas: the benefits of different types of football (5v5, 9v9, 11v11), how offering a broad spread of competition can make youth leagues more exciting and enjoyable for players and all teams, the effects of age related bias, and mini soccer.

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He spoke passionately about how youth football is not just a sport but a way young people can learn important life skills but at times these lessons can be hampered by a ‘win at all costs’ mentality prevalent among certain coaches.

In an impassioned plea for child/player centred approach from adults, he said: “The win at all costs culture is killing English football for kids. If you are a win at all costs coach you are in the wrong job.”

The presentation, which lasted about an hour, was well received by the audience made up of league officials, club officials, referees and coaches who were present.

There was a question and answer session which covered a range of subjects relevant to youth football which lasted a further 45 minutes.

Reflecting on the evening, Suffolk FA Chief Executive, Phil Knight, said: “It was an excellent night. Nick was his normal dynamic self and spoke with great passion and enthusiasm.

“I was delighted with the positive feedback and reaction from the audience.”

If you want to give your views about youth football or would like to see the presentation for yourself please visit

To contact Nick please email

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