Grassroots News

Breaking News – FA & PFA Commission Dementia Link with Football

The Football Association and the Professional Footballers’ Association have appointed Dr William Stewart and colleagues at the University of Glasgow and the Hampden Sports Clinic to lead an independent research study into the incidence of degenerative neurocognitive disease in ex-professional footballers.

Following two years of research and development The FA and the PFA have today confirmed the next step in their commitment to commissioning an evidence-based study into the long-term effects of participation in football. This new study, titled ‘Football’s Influence on Lifelong Health and Dementia Risk’ [FIELD], is scheduled to start in January 2018.

The appointment of the research team, led by Dr William Stewart, was made by The FA Expert Panel in Concussion following an open tender process to agree the parameters of the new independent research. Dr Stewart and colleagues in Glasgow have extensive research expertise in brain injury, public health and sports medicine.

They have been tasked with conducting studies to address the question: ‘Is the incidence of degenerative neurocognitive disease more common in ex-professional footballers than in the normal population?’

 The FIELD study is designed to look at a wide range of physical and mental health outcomes, including neurodegenerative disease, in approximately 15,000 former professional footballers and compare these results to matched general population health data.

 Dr William Stewart, Consultant Neuropathologist at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow, said: “In the past decade there have been growing concerns around perceived increased risk of dementia through participation in contact sports, however, research data to support and quantify this risk have been lacking.

“Through the FIELD study we hope to be able to provide some understanding of the long-term health impact of football within the next two to three years.”

Martin Glenn, FA Chief Executive, added: “This new research will be one the most comprehensive studies ever commissioned into the long-term health of former footballers. Dementia can have a devastating effect and, as the governing body of English football, we felt compelled to commission a significant new study in order to fully understand if there are any potential risks associated with playing the game.

“The FA’s Head of Medicine, Dr Charlotte Cowie, has been instrumental in commissioning this research and also ensuring that the study will be both objective and rigorous.”

Gordon Taylor OBE, PFA Chief Executive, said: “The PFA is and always has been committed to a duty of care for all past, current and future members and has lobbied the football authorities to join with us on all aspects of health and safety. The regulations in place for concussion and heart screening are testimony to this. Neurological problems in later life which may be connected to concussion, head injuries and heading the ball have been on our agenda for the last twenty years.

“Research undertaken so far has been inconclusive and we are now fully appreciative of The FA’s support in establishing a robust, comprehensive research strategy which will help determine whether the incidence of degenerative neurocognitive disease is more common in former professional footballers than in the normal population. In the meantime we will continue to offer help to all our former members and families in a variety of ways.”

The FA and the PFA will jointly-fund the research and the sports concussion research charity The Drake Foundation will project manage the study, adding another level of independence and credibility to the findings. The Drake Foundation was founded in 2014 and is a leading authority on head injuries in sport, committed to improving evidence-based measures for the understanding of head injuries in sport, based on scientific research and insight.

Dr William Stewart was one of the founder members of The FA Expert Panel in Concussion, which was established in 2015 to share expertise and knowledge in this area. During the tender and consultation process for this new research study, Dr Stewart stepped away from his role on the Panel prior to this research call to protect the integrity of the submission and selection process.

Peter Hamlyn MBBS BSc MD FRCS FISM a leading consultant spinal and neurological surgeon and Chair of The FA Expert Panel in Concussion said: “When the Panel was brought together two years ago, our first focus was to ensure that football had appropriate protocols and guidelines on concussion. These were published and distributed to every club in the country for the professional and grassroots game.

“We then turned our attention to potential long-term neurological effects of careers in football. There have been many previous studies all of which have proved inconclusive in regards even the most basic questions. So we have focused our initial endeavour on answering whether footballers are indeed more likely to suffer long-term brain injuries than the general population. Only by conclusively knowing this can we make progress. We hope this new study will provide a much needed leap forward in our understanding.”


Nottinghamshire FA and Derbyshire FA holding Silent Sidelines this weekend!!!

This coming weekend 2 County FAs’ as part of their Respect weekend are holding Silent Sidelines, take a read of the Nottinghamshire FA statement below…

“Over the weekend of Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th November, Nottinghamshire FA  alongside Derbyshire FA, we will be holding a Respect weekend. If you have been following our social media channels you would have received a few clues, but we can now announce that the theme of the weekend will be Silent Sidelines.

So what does a Silent Sideline involve?

Well the main aim is to encourage all of the adults involved in mini and youth soccer to give some thought to the things they say and shout, whilst watching their young players take part in football.

Does a Silent Sideline mean total silence?

No. We appreciate that this would be a little false, and probably not the thing that people want at a football match. What we would like to hear is parents and spectators applauding good play from both teams, praise where praise is due, but try to keep this to a minimum. We are also asking coaches to keep their instructions to an absolute minimum.

The whole idea is to let the children play, free from the pressures that can often come from the sidelines.

How do we want YOU to get involved?

Get the message out to your coaches, teams, parents and spectators that you are taking part, all in the name of Respect. We would like you to utilise the Respect Logos by printing them off, cutting them into strips and handing them out to your spectators on matchday. Then get supporters to hold them over their mouths, as a group or individually, and take their photo.

Either using your smartphone at the game, or when you get home, post your pictures on social media, using the hashtag #LetThemPlay, so we can see you supporting our Respect weekend!

If your team play in the YEL, there is a post on Facebook where you can comment and post your pictures.

We’d like to make it clear that this isn’t a pilot, trial or dry run of any rules change that would make this a permanent part of the game in either Nottinghamshire or Derbyshire. It’s a one-off, for one weekend, all in the name of Respect.

There are some great resources now available from the FA, explaining how Respect can help the development of our young players, to help them become better players, better decision makers, and help them to love the game.

This is far more likely to happen if they can just play, free from the pressure of endless, often well intended, instructions and ‘guidance’ from the sidelines.

If you do one thing at the games on the 18th and 19th November 2017, makes sure you #LetThemPlay.”


Police appeal for witnesses after game ends in violent clashes

It has been alleged that spectators armed with weapons such as knives and golf clubs ran onto a Sunday League football pitch as part of a ‘planned attack’ on a rival team, leaving one player with a broken jaw.

The violence occurred at the end of a match between Hulme FC vs Ordsall-based FCC Stars at Turn Moss playing fields in Stretford last Sunday.

Greater manchester Police have launched an investigation into the incident which left a number of players injured and a 28-year-old Hulme player with a broken jaw.

It is alleged that players were attacked with weapons, and were also racially abused.

Officers were called just before 12.50pm to reports of 20-man brawl but the attackers had fled by the time they arrived.

One Hulme FC player was taken to hospital. The 28-year-old victim remains in hospital and will require surgery for a broken jaw, a member of his family confirmed to the M.E.N.

Sergeant Rob Cope, of GMP’s Trafford division, said: “We are appealing for witnesses after this horrible attack at a Sunday League football match.

“Violence is never welcome in football, but this was another level. The fact that spectators were armed makes us believe that this was a planned attack and not a case of emotions running a little too high.

“Luckily, the victims in this attack will recover from their injuries, however we could have been dealing with a much more tragic situation, especially when weapons are involved.

“We are appealing for anyone who witnessed the fighting or knows someone involved to get in touch with police.

“No one should lace up their boots for a game of football and be met with this sort of violence.”

Anyone with any information is asked to contact police on 0161 856 7655 or 101 quoting the reference number 1045 of 5/11/17, or call Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.


The Football Association has enhanced the experience of Full-Time – a free administration service that is used by over 800 leagues to manage their day-to-day activities – by launching a new mobile-friendly update.

Whether utilized within an existing league website, or used to create one from scratch, Full-Time provides millions of players, coaches, match officials, fans, parents and volunteers with up-to-date fixtures, results, league tables and more in conjunction with, County FA websites and the Whole Game System.

Following real and measurable feedback from users of the service, The FA has launched an updated version that is simple, intuitive and mobile-friendly.

The service will allow new and existing users to enjoy a number of features on the move, including:

  • A search function for teams, clubs, divisions, leagues or cup competitions
  • Access to league tables, fixtures and results information
  • The ability to follow teams, clubs, divisions, leagues or cup competitions
  • Registration for a personalised experience.

Russell James, The FA’s director of digital engagement, said: “In every walk of life, in every industry, people want personalised, anywhere-anytime access to information and products that can help make their life easier. Football is no different.

“We are serious about doing what we can to bring the game together. The re-launch of Full-Time will help to promote the game, improve accessibility and make it a more inclusive and positive experience For All.”

Got a question about the new-look Full-Time? We may have already answered it: FAQs

RIP Coach Zach

Statement from Woburn & Wavendon Football Club
It is with very great sadness that the Club must report the passing of Zach Heath.  Zach has been working to launch the Club’s first disability team, and has been closely involved with the Club’s Vice Chair, Gary Towers, together with both the Under 14 Whirlwinds and Under 16 Hurricanes teams.
Those who had the privilege to meet Zach could not help but be inspired by his enthusiasm and energy to deliver such a worthwhile project.  The Club had already funded Zach’s FA Level 1 Coaching course, which Zach despite his disabilities, was able to successfully complete with assistance from The F.A. The new team was targeting January to launch. This will leave a huge gap for many involved with the Club, however we are determined to press ahead with the disability team and honour all the hard work, commitment and drive Zach has given to the project.
As a mark of respect, we would invite all WWFC teams to take part in a minute’s applause ahead of their games this Weekend. If you are happy to do this, please liaise with your opposition Manager ahead of kick off.  We will also fly the Club flag at half-mast at Wavendon Recreation Ground for one week.
Our sincere condolences go to Zach’s family. It has been a pleasure to have Zach as part of the WWFC family.

Charter Standard Annual Health Check Applications Open NOW!!!

Charter Standard Clubs are required to complete an annual health check every season to ensure that the clubs still meets the correct requirements.

Charter Standard is an accreditation scheme which aims to improve standards in grassroots football clubs, support the development of clubs and rewards and recognises them for their commitment and achievements.

The FA Charter Standard accreditation is awarded to clubs that are well-run and sustainable – and which prioritise child protection, quality coaching and implementation of the Respect programme.

There are three levels of FA Charter Standard Awards for clubs:

-FA Charter Standard Club for youth and adult clubs: the entry-level accreditation

-FA Charter Standard Development Club: for clubs clearly enhancing the quality and scope of their football offering

-FA Charter Standard Community Club: acknowledging the most advanced level of club development and football provision.

For clubs who have FA Charter Standard accreditation, the challenge is to progress to the next level or to maintain that level. For clubs without FA Charter Standard status, the scheme provides aspirational points on its development journey.

The Annual Health Check process is completed via the Whole Game System by the club secretary, chair or welfare officer.

The clubs are required to check that the correct teams are affiliated, make sure that all managers/coaches, first aiders and assistants are uploaded onto the system and linked with the correct teams, then check that all the volunteers hold CRCs and the required qualifications.

All FA Charter Standard Clubs are required to complete their Annual Health Checks between the 1stNovember 2017 and 28th February 2018. This will then be checked by County FA staff and approved once it meets all requirements.


The four football associations of the home nations (The FA, FA Wales, Scottish FA and Irish FA) welcome the new clarification on Law 4, issued on 26 September 2017 by The International Football Association Board (The IFAB), in close cooperation and agreement with FIFA, governing what can and cannot be worn on players’ shirts.

It was important that clarity was brought to this issue as it affects many football matches/competitions throughout the world and is particularly helpful in relation to remembrance and poppies.

In any year when there are international matches in the week leading up to and including Remembrance Sunday, it is the intention of all four home nations to seek permission from the opposition team and FIFA (as the authority responsible for those matches) to display the poppy on armbands.


The Grassroots world has been shocked by the untimely death of nine-year-old Tommaso Cerase in a freak accident.
According to reports, authorities are investigating the incident after it is claimed a goal fell onto the youngster to cause the heartbreaking loss. Police say Cerase was hanging onto the goalpost when it collapsed, striking him in the head.
Nine year old Tomasso Cerase, who lives in New York, was participating in a training camp day for the Serie A giants Juventus.

It is also claimed that his mother, Barbara Riccardi, was present for the horrific accident.

The youngster was rushed to the Roosevelt Hospital as medics battled to save his life. However, despite their best efforts, they were ultimately in vain.

It was a tragedy that strikes at the heart of every parent – how one freak accident can turn a beautiful day into a crushing nightmare.

Watch News Report Here

On behalf of the Grassroots community we would like to extend our sympathies to  Tomassos’ family and friends at this sad time.


Ref knocked out after being HEADBUTTED by red carded player

Sunday league game ended in extreme violence when Kieran Kimberley, having already been sent off during the game and violently head butted referee Craig Ward causing Ward to be knocked unconscious.

The game involved Kimberley’s team, Stockingford White Lion, and Grendon FC in the Nuneaton and District Sunday League.

Kimberley attacked Mr Ward moments after the final whistle of the match on October 1. He was knocked unconscious from the headbutt – and needed medical treatment for a gash on his nose.

In a statement read in court, Mr Ward said: “I could see the man come towards me, and his head moved towards my eyebrow.”The next thing, I woke up on the floor bleeding from the bridge of my nose.”It has left me feeling gutted. It was just a game of football. “It wasn’t even a bad-tempered game. I may not referee again in the future.”


Referee Mr Ward unconscious after the assault – image courtesy Birmingham Mail


Chair of the magistrates, Vanessa Marvell, said: “We have considered this carefully, and we do find that this was so serious that it has to have a custodial sentence, but we are going to suspend that sentence.

“This was serious because you used your head as a weapon to cause injury, and it was an unprovoked attack on someone who was carrying out their duties as a football referee.”

Prosecutor Jez Newsome said: “The victim was the referee of a game on Sunday October 1, in which the defendant was issued two yellow cards, which resulted in a red card.

“At the end of the game Mr Ward was trying to explain it to the team manager, and Mr Kimberley approached them, talking to the referee about the repercussions of the red card.”

Mr Newsome said that when Kimberley was arrested later that day and interviewed, he made a full admission to what he described as “a moment of madness,” but claimed he felt the ref was laughing and winding him up.

He said he had not meant to cause the injury, and he suggested the ref had “moved his arm and I thought he was going to hit me” – which was rejected by the prosecution.


Kieran Kimberley outside court (Image: Paul Beard)

Mr Newsome said: “He says the victim has a reputation as being a wind-up who is known to provoke players. “The Crown in no way accept that” “This is a referee who gives up his time at weekends to enable people to play on a football field.”

Paul O’Keeffe, defending, said: “He described it as a moment of madness, and that he should not have done it. “Mr Kimberley accepts his action was completely unwarranted, and out of proportion to anything that happened at the time.” He didn’t wish to cause injury.

Paul O’Keeffe, defending, said: “He described it as a moment of madness, and that he should not have done it.

Kimberley was handed a four-month suspended sentence and ordered to pay his victim £300 in compensation, £185 court costs and a £115 victim surcharge.

We spoke directly to the RDO from the Birmingham County FA who confirmed that they were aware of the incident, had been in contact with Mr Ward to offer support during the court proceedings. A local county FA investigation will now begin.


Kick It Out, football’s equality and inclusion organisation, can reveal a rise in discrimination reports for the fifth consecutive season, with a 16.7% increase for the 2016/17 campaign.

The organisation received 469 reports last season, compared to 402 in 2015/16. The reports of discrimination come from across football – including Premier League, English Football League (EFL), Women’s Super League, non-league and grassroots fixtures, as well as football-related discrimination on social media.

Nearly half of the total reports in 2016/17 – 48% – relate to race, with 21% HBT (Homophobic, Biphobic and Transphobic) discrimination and 17% faith related.

Kick It Out is a third-party reporting bureau and liaises with the football authorities and the police to take up cases on behalf of complainants, as well as offering support and guidance to those who have witnessed or suffered discrimination.

Of the 206 professional game reports received by Kick It Out, 56% took place in the Premier League, 34% in the EFL, 9% at non-league (Step 4 or above) and 1% at international fixtures. Professional game reports marked a 53% increase compared to 2015/16.

In another significant rise, reporting through the Kick It Out app, available on Apple and Android devices, increased by 62% in comparison to 2015/16.

Roisin Wood, Chief Executive Officer, said: “Kick It Out’s reporting statistics for the 2016/17 season clearly indicate discrimination is still prevalent within the beautiful game.

“As we head towards the 25th anniversary of the organisation in August 2018, it is a timely reminder that there is still significant work to be done to ensure all participants can feel safe and included in the sport.

“Whilst the statistics show a large proportion of reporting taking place within the professional game, Kick It Out is aware of the vast scale of under-reporting within the grassroots game. This is one of a number of challenges the football authorities must tackle going forward.

“Kick It Out actively encourages all those involved across the game to report any discrimination they witness or suffer.”

To report discrimination across all levels of the English football, download the free Kick It Out reporting app – available on the App Store and Google Play. The app features the option to report anonymously as well as the ability to include video and images to a report.


“When are we having a game?” – I’d be willing to bet that this is the question that coaches up and down the country probably get asked most often.

Why is this? Don’t these kids realise how much time and effort we’ve put into researching and planning this nice, neat and tidy drill? Those six words are enough to sink the spirit of the most well-intentioned.

What is a game?


1. A form of competitive activity or sport played according to rules.

2. An activity that one engages in for amusement.

A game in a coaching context isn’t necessarily ‘the game’ – the version they experience on a weekend. Although, it may well be. A game, simply, may be a practice that has rules, some form of scoring system and/or competition.

Why use games?

Unlike repetitive drills, the decisions that the players make in games are not pre-determined by the practice or the coach and the outcomes are uncertain. A bit like a match.

Games provide excitement through their realism and they engage. They can be manipulated to challenge the players appropriately.

A game in a coaching context isn’t necessarily ‘the game’ – the version they experience on the weekend.

These ingredients of freedom offer a glimpse as to why games are so enjoyable.

‘I’m going to stop learning this because it’s too much fun,’ said no-one, ever! Games give the players the opportunity to develop their craft for the match.

A few years ago, as a frustrated high handicap golfer, I figured out the main reason (among many!) that was stopping my aspiring path to single figures – my short game.

The constant, repetitive drills I was practising ripped straight off YouTube we’re bringing short term success on the practice range but my handicap remained closer to my age than I wanted. I couldn’t repeat it when it mattered.

A friend then recommended some simple chipping games. They provided me with variety, fun, challenge and engagement. I found myself regularly in states of flow in practice where hours went by without me noticing. I was competing. Against myself. Trying to beat the game.

If us adults weren’t around, games are what the players would play. Ever remember queuing up ten deep or standing in nice neat lines during break time at school? Nor me. Remember Wembley Doubles, Heads and Volleys, Three-and-in and everything else we played on the street? Me too. There was a reason for this. We were, perhaps unintentionally, developing our craft.

So what are we to do?

It’s training night and the parents and players have arrived. The latter giddy with excitement. The former interested to see what practices we have prepared to teach to their sons and daughters.

We need to reassure the parents that developing players learn best through games. That such practices will often look chaotic and messy instead of being tidy and regimented. A bit like a match.

Keep it simple. One of the reasons why our beautiful game is the world’s most popular sport is due to its simplicity. Two teams, two goals, one ball.

The same can be said for the practices that we design for our players to learn from. If in doubt, think ‘how might I add simple rules, scoring and competition?’ Or even ask the players what they would do. They may surprise us.

Maybe where we’ve gone wrong in the past is because we’ve used ‘the game’ as a carrot – ‘If you’re good and do these drills then we’ll have a game at the end.’

Or ‘It’s your game time at the end you’re wasting.’ This carrot is one that is often dangled until the end of the session. Until we feel as though we’ve got what we want from the session.

Games can take place whenever possible – not just at the end of a session as a carrot for good behaviour

I’ve often had coaches ask me why their players’ behaviour is erratic until they have a game. The irony is that the thing we are trying to help the players get better at (‘the game’) is the thing that we often try to use to control their behaviour. The thing that we don’t feel that they’ve earned until they’ve ‘mastered the basics’.

Why is this practice so common? It’s similar to telling children that ‘if you’re good and eat all your vegetables then you’ll get a desert.’ (Is it any wonder that vegetables – and indeed repetitive drills – have such a bad name among so many kids?).

What this tradition of coaching practice also does is wait until the players are more fatigued – at the end of the session – until they start practicing the things that they are more likely to be repeating at the weekend.

‘We do not rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training.’ – Archilochus, Greek Soldier, 650 BC

So when are we having a game?

Whenever possible.

I set myself a challenge some years back now to eradicate this question from my coaching. The players I’m lucky enough to work with currently trust that our practices will be all about games.

I’ve noticed that players who are trained on a diet of games arrive at training much more relaxed as they know that their session is not about to be dominated by the coach and they will have the chance to apply and expend their stored creative energy.

About The Author

Name: Jack Walton

Title: regional coach development manager

Follow: @jackwalton1


Futsal is a skilful and high-intensity game played by ten players on an indoor court with a heavy ball. Here, FA youth coach developer, Ian Bateman, explains why Futsal is the perfect game for indoor training over the winter period.

1) If you are taking your team indoors for winter training, getting them to play Futsal is a great starting point.

The constraints of the game itself will draw out lots of positive returns: technical, tactical, physical, psychological, social and more. By playing the game and keeping the time and the score, the players will get excited by it and are likely to play with intensity and it will answer any questions of: “when are we having a game?”

2) The constraints of the game itself help with player development.

For example, take the rule that the ball cannot be passed straight back to the goalkeeper after it has been distributed. Straight away it means the game is in an under-loaded situation of 4v5 in favour of the defending team and players in possession have to deal with receiving and keeping the ball under pressure. Simply playing 5v5 in tight areas is not easy and the players will enjoy the challenge.

3) A Futsal ball has very little bounce, so it is easier to control.

At the top level you will see players receive the ball with the sole of their foot, allowing them to manipulate it quicker. Rather than stopping it and then getting it out of their feet, they can shift it in one go and they can manipulate it through 360 degrees really quickly.  With players receiving the ball with the bottom of their foot, the ball speed between players can be quick – and is actually quicker than football.

4) Futsal helps develop intelligent defenders.

Because the ball is easier to control, defenders have to be patient and clever when defending. The rules dictate that you only have five fouls per team per half, so it deters players from giving fouls away – on the sixth foul they give a penalty away. Defending in Futsal is a real skill and all comes as a result of the ball that is used.

5) The beauty is you only need one ball to get going.

A Futsal ball might cost as little as £10. Quite often there are markings on an indoor floor that can be utilised and you can be creative with how you use the goals. If you don’t have Futsal sized goals, 5 a-side goals are fine – just add in cones to narrow them off.  When you are working with younger players, 5 a-side goals may actually be better because they are lower and sometimes the Futsal goals are too high for U6s and U7s.

6) Different sized Futsal balls bring different returns.

U7s should play with a size two or three but also might benefit from some time playing with a size four, as it will help with control as the ball will move slower. The trade-off is that all the passes will have to be short. Similarly, older players working with a size two may find it more difficult to control the ball because of the decreased surface area.

7) Working indoors can provide a wider variety of learning opportunities.

An indoor facility allows you to put the learning objectives and session plan up on the wall. If you want the players to write feedback or ideas up on a chart you have the opportunity to do so. Sometimes the weather outside can rule out these aspects of the coaching process. Working indoors also allows the coach to take their time rather than just feel they need to rush through the session to keep the players warm.

8) Sometimes lots of footballs in an indoor facility can be chaotic.

Given that Futsal balls don’t bounce – and you don’t need many of them to set up the game and start playing – it can be much easier to manage the environment. Also, by working indoors means you can manage your equipment better. Balls aren’t continually being kicked out of the area meaning you can have more action and play.

9)  There is very little stop and stand still.

Because Futsal is such a dynamic game, one of the ways to get the main learning messages across is by letting the game ‘run’ and to coach during breaks in the play. We don’t encourage much stopping and standing whilst the game is underway. One of the key messages from the new Futsal awards is to let the practice or game run, have a quick chat with the players when they are on the sideline (see below), and then let them go again.

10) Opportunity to coach the players who are resting.

Because there are lots of changes to the personnel on court at any one time there is an opportunity to coach the players who are on the sideline.  Sometimes football coaches are uncomfortable with all the players not being involved in all parts of the session. But with Futsal being such a dynamic game, the players want – and need – to rest. It affords the coach time to talk to the players about their own individual targets and challenges and also what they have observed in the game. Players might only work in two or three minute blocks so the intensity of the game stays consistently high.

Ian Bateman is an FA Youth Coach Educator specialising in Futsal.