Development Irish Grassroots Football

We need your IDEAS!

I’m planning to send out a survey on the ‘Future of Youth Football’ in Ireland and need your help. I want to know any ideas you have and based on these ideas, we will send out a questionnaire to see what people really want. This is what will happen:

  • If you had a blank canvas, what would you do?
  • Tell me about your vision and ideas?
  • We want to narrow down 4/5 ideas and then use these ideas in a questionnaire.
  • A questionnaire will be sent to everyone involved in Grassroots football.

Here are some I wrote in a previous post.

  1. Abolish the SFAI or at least reform and rename it. Select a committee that is not appointed by the FAI and SFAI or maybe voted in by the leagues. For instance if I wanted to put my name forward, I would be representing my local league.
  2. Create a new name for the organisation call it ‘Youth FAI’, branching from the FAI, under control of the FAI. Each League would have a presentative working with them make sure they are adopting all the proper development procedures. Those who do it well, will get extra financial funding.
  3. Implement a ten year NATIONAL plan, look at what Germany, Belgium and Spain have done.
  4. We need to value the SSG and make it much more flexible. More and better players through child-friendly football.
  5. Introduce non competition football from u9 to u12s. Start with 3v3 for u8s, 4v4 for u9s, 5v5 for u10s, 7v7 for u11 and u12s, 8v8 or 9v9 (transition stage to 11v11) for u13s and 11v11 at u14s. Leave an option open to continue with 8v8 or 9v9v in areas that may not have access to pitches and/or players. This is proven in many parts of Europe, = More TOUCHES of the Ball, More FUN, More Goals.
  6. National guidelines for competition structures for all age groups, making sure everyone is working from the same programme with the same goal. Player first mindset.
  7. Clubs must have academies, must have proper facilities and qualified coaches. Introduce a licensing and rewarding system. Some suggestions to start with leagues first and reward the League Academies if they meet the required standards.
  8. To coach a kids football team their must be at least one adult with the required qualifications specific to his/her age group.
  9. Introduce a club licence with minimum criteria needed to set-up for kids football, i.e Qualified coaches, Facilities, Equipment, Child Welfare officer, Mission statement, Vision, Goals. Again start with leagues first.
  10. Use the best volunteer coaches in ETC (not friends), reward them with free further education. Get RDO’s to work weekends, so they can monitor the game on the ground.
  11. Begin ETC at age 10-21 years. The leagues should start their academies early with the ETP starting after the Kennedy cup, so u14s. After this the league centre should be the regional centre keeping the national philosophy within the leagues. Introduce a progressive and phased player pathway.
  12. Begin a player retention programme and a programme for players returning from the abroad.
  13. Include girls soccer in this plan.
  14. Implement Futsal into all leagues. More teams entered into community games and extend the age range, bring back the coaching curriculum.
  15. Promotion of Futsal in schools programme, promoting the game nationally. How many people are aware of the Emerald League?
  16. Change the course content of the K1 and K2 making them more player focused, with emphasis on ball mastery and how to structure a session. Mindset to change from ‘Winning at all costs, to player centred coaching’. 
  17. Introduce a ‘intro to coaching’ specific course for anyone looking to get involved. Looking at what is expected of you and reasons for getting involved. This course would be the door to further education. Anyone doing their K1 or K2 should start coaching in their academies and if they are good enough only then should they be allowed to the Youth Cert. Everyone should pass the course but introduce a grading system,  grade, A= you are able to go on and do the UEFA B provided you are coaching with a team. B= You need more work, nearly there but you will need to be assessed if you want to do your UEFA B. C= Your will need to come back and do a final assessment in two months in order to receive your cert. Everyone wishing to do the UEFA B should be pre-assessed and again a pass grading system should be applied.
  18. Parent Behaviour course, mandatory for all clubs and all parents.
  19. More access to courses, make them more relevant to the needs of kids today. Look to other European nations and bring in parts of their course into ours. We can’t keep coaching the same content with the same style.
  20. Encourage coaches to develop, introduce incentives to obtain further qualifications. We will need more qualified coaches for a plan to work.
  21. Market the LOI better – More funding for LOI Academies. National broadcaster have a responsibility to promote the national league over the English league.
  22. Focus on keeping kids playing in their communities, no travelling until u13s. If they are good enough then the regional centres will be able to look after them. However we would need to be catering for more numbers then the standard. There is no point in the best regional players going to Dublin to sit on the bench. Year on year regional leagues lose tens of players to Dublin clubs, who go up and never kick a ball.
  23. The transfer window closes 15th October and some players will be in squads of over 18 players and rarely play. If you’re not playing you’re not learning. That is why we need a transfer window in December to January to help these players to play.
  24. Let’s share our ideas, we need to be open with each other.

I have listed a lot of ideas. I’m more interested in the ones we can control. We can’t really control the ET programme that’s up to the FAI to develop but we can give ideas.

If anyone has ideas from other country; maybe things that have worked well, please let us know.

We need your ideas, please share them! 


I always like to hear your opinions. Please comment below or email me If, you don’t have anything to add then please forward this on to a friend. Thanks for reading.

I’m also on twitter @Coachdiary

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