Grassroots News

BBC want a Grassroots Child to be the star of their New Show!!!

The BBC are currently casting two new leading child roles for the next series of CBBC show JAMIE JOHNSON, about young footballers playing for their school club and academies, and the life lessons they experience. The show demonstrates good sportsmanship and the level of commitment/good behaviour needed to play for academies.

The show is one of the highest rating shows in children’s television and has attracted guest appearances from famous sports stars such as Steven Gerard, Gary Lineker, Ruud Gullit and more. Watch the show here:

The show will film in 2 x 5 week blocks with 1 week break in the middle to allow children to register at school.

During term-time all cast are tutored, provided by production, as well as all accommodation, food and of course there is a fee involved


We are looking for people who fit either of these descriptions:

  • Girls who look 11-12 years old and are very good at football
  • Boys who look 11-12 years old and have good football skills – confident and funny
Visit Grassroots HERE


To apply parents /guardians please email with:

  • Contact details of how we can reach you by email and phone
  • 2 photographs of your child in football kit – full length and head & shoulders
  • A video of your child playing football. We need to see your child playing football (dribbling, tackling etc.) rather than just doing some keep-ups
  • A short video of your child telling us a bit about themselves, filmed waist up against a plain background – seated or standing your preference
  • Boys – also tell us a joke

If you are applying directly then we must have confirmation that your parents are happy for you to apply.

Please send your application ASAP, if selected you will be invited to attend an audition in London.

Final deadline is the 4th July but please apply as soon as you can


  • 19th July – film football scenes
  • 28th July – rehearsal for acting scenes
  • 31st July – 1st September filming
  • 11th September-13th October filming


Its the end of the season, why am I busier now than ever?

Like many other coaches at grassroots junior football I was looking forward to the end of the season in May, a chance to put my feet up for a couple of months, spend some time with the rest of my family i.e. not just the one that I happen to coach and generally recharge my batteries before the start of the season.

So how come I suddenly feel like I am working harder than ever?

First up is the end of season awards, this varies club by club, ours we have a day of football followed by an evening presentation and probably like the majority of clubs, those who manage the team also seem to do everything else. That means, buy the awards, book the marquee, organise the entertainment, get in the food. closer to the day, its mark out the pitches, check we have enough volunteers to man the BBQ, who has the float? all this before we have to face the dreaded 5 mins of speeches at the actual awards.

Coach gift ideas

So, the end of season awards done, time to rest.. well no. Its now tournament season, so its find an event, book an event, again if your club hosts a tournament its a bit like groundhog day again, lining the pitches, organising the bbq etc etc.

Surely now its time to rest, well no as now comes the challenge of working out what players you will have, the likelihood is some will move on, so you have to be looking for a couple of replacement players and as you move through the age groups you are now faced with finding more players every season, your squad of 8 players which felt very comfortable at 5 a side suddenly feels a bit light when playing 7 a side. Where to get them from? How will they fit into the team? anyone got a left-footer?? All of these challenges can take up your time.

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The more diligent among us will be trying to spend some time reading up on new drills, or getting that next qualification to ensure that we are armed with fresh new ideas for our first day of training for the new season. Which may be July, before pre-season friendlies start in August ready for the season start in September.

Sorry coaches spouse it looks as though those jobs you’ve waited patiently all winter for us to do will have to wait a bit longer !!!

Nominate in the 2017 Women’s Football Awards HERE!!!!

Cast your vote now in two 2017 Women’s Football Awards categories

Nominations for two categories in the 2017 Women’s Football Awards are now open.

The first of these, The FA Women’s Unsung Hero award, award is open to players, coaches, administrators, volunteers and anyone else who has made a recognisable contribution to women’s football.

Nominees considered will have demonstrated approximately 20 years of service or more to the game.

The FA is committed to doubling the number of women and girls playing football by 2020.

The second award will honour the Best Participation Initiative that encourages more to believe that football is a sport for them and recognises the success of grassroots football development programmes that have inspired women and girls to play football.

Nominations are welcome from any organisation that has delivered a programme to increase participation.

You can register your nomination now by clicking on the respective links below. The window to nominate closes on Monday 3 July.

The FA Women’s Unsung Hero 

Best Participation Initiative

Top 10 ways to generate funds for your team/club/league

The need for funds in Grassroots football increases year on year but sponsors are becoming increasingly difficult to find, here’s 10 tried and tested ways to generate funds for your team, some you may have tried, some maybe not. If you have novel ways of raising funds please feel free to share with the Grassroots community.

1) Find a generous sponsor, this is proving more and more difficult for teams to achieve but their are still 1000s of people out there who are willing to sponsor teams, maybe try thinking smaller for example, would a sponsor be willing to sponsor balls, or just strips. Asking for home, away strips track suits balls and winter jackets will most likely result in a no response. Also consider speaking to your local newspaper first, most potential sponsors will be more willing if you can state you will get a picture in the paper (something as businesses they would have to pay for)

2) Explore other avenues. Each team usually has parents who are connected with businesses who would be willing to sponsor the team, maybe in exchange for their logo being printed on the team shirts and some local press.

3) Bag packing. This can be very lucrative. It will involve all of your team members getting down to the local supermarket and putting in a day’s work, but the rewards can be very good. You will need to contact a participating supermarket first and there is often quite a long waiting list, but this is well worth the wait and can be quite lucrative for your team.

4) Sponsored event. In an eleven-s-side team you may have 15 players, it is not beyond each player to push the boat out and get 20 people to sponsor them a pound each for a sponsored walk, hike or swim etc. That’s £300 in sponsorship money.

Grants available HERE

5) Selling teas and coffees on match days. Standing around in the winter months is thirsty work for parents. Selling teas and coffees and maybe even bacon baps on match day can boost your funds for very little effort. For example on a cold match day if one parent sold 10 cups of tea at £1 each just to your own team Matchday and training could generate £30 per week. That’s £120 per month!!!! That’s £1440 per year!!!!

6) Raffles. If used correctly maybe once or twice per year again this can be quite lucrative for your team, maybe a Summer and Winter hamper, if raffles are done every month you will most likely not receive the same level of support. Maybe ask for prize donations from local businesses.

7) Race-nights. These can be great fun with a chance for everyone to get together for a good night out. There are companies who will organise the event for you in exchange for a cut of the profits. This can also be done, with a little effort and imagination by team members.

8) Football cards. These can be bought online and can be passed around spectators whilst the match is being played or in the clubhouse after the match.

Grants available HERE

9) Football tournament. Organise a football tournament with teams from local leagues. Charge them to enter. If you can get enough clubs interested this can be a great money earner. On the day you can charge for car parking, charge for stall holders, run a raffle, run a tuck shop, sell teas, coffees and burgers and print a program and charge for adverts. There are plenty of opportunities to make money once you have a crowd there.

10) Charity clothes banks will pay around 40p per kilo for the stuff you have cluttering up your wardrobe and drawers. Donate this to a charity and everyone is a winner.

Important Safety warning for anyone involved in Grassroots Football.

Please be very careful if you’re planning to get involved in grassroots football, it is not without risks.

We are involved in Grassroots Football and I feel I need to warn people of the dangers!

Beware of the risks associated with Grassroots Football, it will add happiness, it will add friends, it will improve your children health through exercise, it will increase your families social circle and social life, it will fill a part of your life that nothing else will come close to.

The risk of meeting teams, coaches, kids etc that want more from you than just a hello is insufferably high. Many coaches and league officials will want to give you their numbers and ask you to find them if you need any help. We ended up with way too many people that were willing to help us out if we had problems.

Also, you cannot go to a game without a parent, referee, coach etc wanting to have a chat and catch up with you and show genuine affection for being in the grassroots family. All these people being so friendly is very inconvenient. People in Grassroots are way too happy, relaxed, always smiling even the kids will smile, laugh and show levels of respect and integrity you won’t see anywhere else.

You will have no choice but to enjoy the ride, laugh with your football family, share in the highs and lows as one, that feeling that only being part of a team can give you, its very inconvenient.

If you accidently run into a league secretary, you will be astonished by their level of commitment and compassion they have for your team and every other team, they will talk about the game with a love so infectious it will be impossible not to be inspired, they will help you understand matters of welfare and safeguarding and show a drive and determination to make the game a better place for everyone.

Beware of the weather also. The weather is so incredible, you will be sunbathing one minute and the next you will be caught in a downpour,  annoyingly it won’t take the happiness away from these people involved in Grassroots Football, it doesn’t seem to effect them, quite worrying really. You will enjoy the great outdoors and find a love of freshly cut grass on a weekend morning, you will experience feelings you can’t get from the APP store.

After reading all this if you still want to take the risk, give a share and most importantly Welcome to the Grassroots Family!

The life of a Grassroots Coach…

Standing in work and all I can think of is, what can I arrange for the kids? how can I help them? what sessions can I do? … gets to my lunch break and I still have a million ideas running through my head. . Biting into my sarnie with phone in other hand searching the Internet for ideas and info. ..making the phone calls I need to make and sending the texts out between every bite. ..

Get in from work. . Quick cuppa ( if I’m lucky ) change from work clothes to footy clothes. . Swap bag to holdall and go out the door loading the car and away I go. . ( can’t wait to eventually get home and have tea)

Some weeks are straight forward, some weeks it’s like the kids have just indulged in a bag full of sugar before arriving and even though I’m doing everything I can to make it fun and constant… it still seems more fun for little johnny to grab onto Peter and dive about the floor (constantly), for Steven to do the opposite of everything I’ve asked and for James to want to have a full on conversation with me about his whole day. . Step by step. Minute by minute!!

From start to end I hear “are we playing a match now? “

Quick chat with parents, ideas getting put forward for things we need, things we can do. . Subs to be collected. ..etc. .

Eventually home, see my kids , grab my tea and bed.. ready for the next day. .

Unless it’s a Friday night then I can’t sleep. . Team for next day ?? have they all got  minutes, will they all remember shinnys? have I packed a spare? Eat, breathe, sleep Grassroots football. .!!

Amongst the million other issues and paperwork that you have to sort, parents and children to deal with, meetings etc..

Would I change it? No way !!

Amongst it all. . To see a child achieve something whether it’s as an individual or whether it’s as a team with a smile on their face is the reason why all of the above ( and more) makes it all worth while. .

I’m proud to be a Grassroots Volunteer !!

I’m proud to be a Grassroots Coach !!

6 minutes !!! – My son cried when he got in the car, this can’t be right…

My son, who is 8 has played for his team now for a year and a half now, I accept that he has the least ability on the team but to counter this he has the most enthusiasm.

The coach was very fair in the first season giving most kids a good run out, recently this has begun to get less and less for 2 players, my son included.

This weekend we attended a large tournament in our area and all the kids were really excited to spend the day together and play new teams.

It was clear from the first game that my son was going to have a minimal part in the tournament as he played for the last 90 seconds of the first game. I didn’t say anything and thought he will balance it out over the remaining games. Subs went on and off and each time my son looked at the coach hoping it would be him.

My heart wrenched every time my son looked at the coach, in total my son played just over 6 minutes at a full day tournament. To put this into perspective, we pay our subs like everyone else, we cancelled other plans to attend because my son wanted to play, Im sure I’m not the only one who thinks this is wrong.

My son put a brave face on until we got in the car, he instantly began crying which broke my heart, I said I would find a new team for him which made him more upset. For the first time as a mother I really didn’t know what to say or do to make things better.

The irony in all this is the coach and my son have a really close relationship and my son looks up to him like he’s a super hero. He always said that he wanted to develop his team and would be devastated if he upset any of the players. I won’t bad mouth the coach because 99% of the time he is a genuine bloke who loves the kids, anyone who met him would agree, but I think he may be so engrossed in winning the game that he’s forgetting his roots and his players.


Enough is Enough!! Referees Mum speaks out when her child is abused.

As a parent of a 15 year old newly qualified referee, I simply couldn’t continue to sit back and say nothing anymore. What my son has been subjected to would not happen in any other walk of life or profession.

My son has been involved in Grassroots for about 10 years, earlier this year he asked if he could earn a few quid on a weekend and still be involved in the game by becoming a referee.

I must admit I have followed my sons footballing journey over the years and have watched most of his games and seen how refs were treat so had reservations. My son however was adamant, he was a confident lad and thought he would do a good job, and like he said “I could get a part tim job doing something I hate or something I love”

With this in mind I supported his qualification and was so proud as his mum when he qualified as a ref. I went to watch my son ref the games and was just as proud watching him as the other parents on the sidelines watching their players.

What I have seen in a few months watching my son referee is absolutely ridiculous, he has been ridiculed, sworn at, abused verbally and threatened physically, all for what happens during a game. He has got to the point now that he’s become scared to make a decision because no matter the decision, usually comes multiple shouts of disagreement.

The amount of times an incident happens and the default shouts of “Come on Ref” before he has even had a chance to put the whistle to his lips.

I appeal to all parents out there to think again before attending the next game and treat the ref as if it were your child. My son will only take so much and he tells me that his fellow referee’s feel very similar. Heard it before but its true, No Ref – No Game.

Yours in Sport

A Referees Mum

The FAs guide to managing Grassroots football

So you’ve got the job. You’re the gaffer.

Whether you’re a budding Mourinho or a reluctant volunteer you’ve got the responsibility of managing the team.

You might have a detailed five-year strategy or just a few stinky bibs and some flat footballs but hopefully this resource will provide you with a few pointers in the art and science of running a grassroots (amateur Saturday or Sunday) team.

Download, share or print the guide – which features a foreword from FA technical director Dan Ashworth, and advice on tactics, training sessions, team administration and keeping players fit by clicking HERE

17th- 30th July – Grassroots supports National Childrens Football Week

National Children’s Football Week

From July 17th – July 30th we invite you to join with us in celebration of free football for children. This year Grassroots will be fully supporting the NCFA and the Jumpers4Goalposts free football week.

Spearheaded by the National Children’s Football Alliance, National Children’s Football Week is a national celebration of children’s football. Their vision of affordability for children’s football, is an opportunity for the entire football community to bring together friends, family and team mates for a free game of football just for fun.

Up and down the country in all corners of the children’s game, grassroots football will be coming together to fly the flag of free play and opportunity.  All kids deserve to enjoy the great game with a “Jumpers for goalposts” attitude. From July 17th – July 30th we invite you to join with us in celebration of free football for children.

We invite clubs, leagues, coaches, academies, county Fa’s and any other sport provider to open your doors and allow anyone who wants to play, to play for free during this week. Lets use this opportunity to smash down the financial, social, or cultural obstacles and get as many people as possible playing the beautiful game.

If you want to host a session or a larger event during this week please apply for your pack HERE

FA release results of largest ever Grassroots Survey


A record feedback figure has been collated by The FA in the latest Grassroots Football Survey.

Now in its second year, the survey took in the views of over 30,000 people, including players, coaches, referees, staff and volunteers, topping the total of number of respondents from last year in the process.

And The FA’s director of participation and development, Kelly Simmons, has thanked those who took the time to provide invaluable feedback.

Grassroots Football Survey 

  • Participants: 30,161
  • 14% – People involved in the grassroots game are negative towards their County FA
  • 27% – Coaches are positive about the opportunities they have to progress than they were a year ago
  • 24% – Adult female players feel supported by their County FA
  • 34% – Grassroots players aged 55+ currently play walking football

“We are very grateful to all the people who took time to complete the questionnaire,” said Simmons.

“It provides both The FA and CFAs with invaluable insight, helping shape and prioritise investment and services into the grassroots game.

“The FA invests £50m per annum into the grassroots game and the survey helps to shape FA priorities for all those with key roles in the grassroots game from coaches, referees, club and league officials and general volunteers who make football happen week in and week out.

“We can see how social media is playing its part in how people access and consume information about the game at this level, how people are utilising the smaller sided format rather than the traditional 11 v 11 game, and how people are incorporating other sports into their weekly football fix.”

The survey found that many in the grassroots community still aren’t fully utilising the services their County FA has to offer, with only half (49 per cent) aware that their County can offer advice and funding for facility development.

The availability of good quality Artificial Grass Pitches (AGP) is increasingly important to those in the grassroots game with 63 per cent of those involved in the grassroots game citing them as a priority, compared to 56 per cent last year; good news for those communities set to become the beneficiaries of Parklife schemes next year in Liverpool and west London respectively.

The increasing ascendance of the women’s game is reflected too. Adult female players feel better supported (24 per cent) than their male counterparts (14 per cent) and a greater proportion from the grassroots game would prefer to hear about both the men and women’s senior national teams combined (20 per cent) than just the men’s alone (12 per cent).

There is, however, still work to do in other areas of the diversity agenda; black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) participants are less likely to find their County either accessible (33 per cent) or inclusive than non-BAME participants (43 per cent). This is an area The FA is working hard to address.

“It is the responsibility of The FA both centrally and County FAs to ensure everyone, irrespective of race, gender, sexuality, faith and every other of the protected characteristics, has the same positive experience,” added Simmons.

“More than ever, we’re committed to the philosophy of For All and making sure everyone has the opportunity to be involved in the game at whatever level, and in whatever capacity, they wish to participate at.”

The Dangers of Copycat Coaching by FA talent technical coach Gavin Step

Gavin Step, FA talent technical coach, outlines the dangers of copycat coaching and offers examples of how to tailor coaching sessions to individual players.

Never before have football coaches had access to as many ‘off the shelf’ coaching sessions.  Through social media and the internet a huge volume of ideas exist to inform practice design.

The challenge with these sessions is how to deliver the content to meet the needs of individual players. With generic sessions it is unlikely that the whole group will benefit to the same level as if the session was individualised.

Does the girl attending her first football session have the same needs as the boy who has been playing for three years? Does the youth international full-back have the same needs as the centre midfielder returning from injury? For each player in the session it’s important to ask: what’s the point of it?

It goes without saying that the best coaches plan their sessions with learning objectives and outcomes at their core.  Additionally, I have seen some really thoughtful examples of coaches who plan individual learning objectives for every player in their squad.

However, I’ve often wondered what this looks like on the grass.  During a 60-90 minute session, is it realistic for a coach to facilitate and achieve the learning objectives for the session along with 16 individualised learning objectives? Even with the support of an assistant coach, this can prove challenging.

Yet, it is vital that we consider the specific requirements of our players when planning and delivering. Some good examples from clubs I work with include players being set individual targets at the start of a coaching block that remain for the duration of that period of work.

Targets are written, laminated and present at all coaching sessions. On the whole, it is the player’s responsibility to ensure they are working towards their individual target, session on session. The role of the coach is to design practices that allow the player to explore and develop their specific target. What they do not do is set a new target week after week, hoping to achieve these every new hour of work they have with their players.

When I work with players, I list both session objective and success criteria.  Along with what I plan on focusing on, I list criteria I think will help the players successfully achieve the session objective. These will be displayed on either a whiteboard or flipchart. For example:

Session Objective


Help the team progress and penetrate through the thirds

Success Criteria

1) You will make forward passes with quality through defensive lines
2) You will travel with control and composure through defensive lines
3) You will make positive runs ahead of the ball to support teammates

Session Objective


Display resilience when faced with a challenging situation in training

Success Criteria

1) You will use positive language to yourself and with others
2) You will display positive body language
3) You will encourage others when they find the ‘going gets tough’

Players are tasked to select one or more of the success criteria to focus on for the session.They commit to this by initialling and signing against it.

Sometimes I use subtle questioning to lead players towards an objective I feel they may benefit from focusing on.Sometimes I tell a player what I think they should work on.  Other times I say nothing at all.  This could be described as player-centred coaching within coach-determined parameters. To support the players’ learning, I list success criteria that helps guide the players towards the outcomes I hope they will achieve.  With time, players can generate their own criteria.  They suggest what they think they must do to successfully achieve the session objective.

The success criteria are the hooks that I return to within the session. Reminding the players of the session focus and specific elements they have committed to work on at the outset of the session.  This supports them to achieve what I have planned and intended for them to learn.  When I reflect on what is the point of my session, the players themselves drive the individual targets as to what they feel the point of the session has been for them.

In designing individual challenges, I propose a menu of choice and it is up to the player to select the focus of their work.

Gavin Step is an FA talent technical coach working in the women’s game.