Grassroots News

Coach quits after row with parent about top goal scorer award…

I’m the manager and coach of a parent run club. We started the club from scratch last May and have just finished our first season.

We were unhappy as parents with how the previous manager, coach and club was run so we set up ours for our children to stay together and enjoy football! Our age group by the way is under 10’s.

We had an end of season meeting on Thursday to discuss plans for the future and our presentation night. We decided on the usual managers, parents and players player awards.

Discussions led to most improved and clubman. One thrown in to the mix was Top Goalscorer. There was a mixed reaction as it was seen as a trophy that not every single player was capable of winning.

There are only 4 or 5 maximum in a team of 11 who’d stand a chance of winning and it would go against the club’s philosophy of being a team.

There are no individuals. The team scores not the individual.

The perfect trophy for a World Cup year.

After getting a show of votes today to confirm 6 were against for the reasons mentioned and 5 for. This has led to abusive texts and threats from a parent whom believes his son has earned the trophy and if the club don’t give it him he’ll not turn up to the presentation and also leave the club.

My assistant has also backed this behaviour and comments from the parent.

I’ve since quit because of this. I’m appalled that I’ve personally been lambasted and blackmailed by a parent.

I’d like you to put this out to people. Let’s see how they see it. Week after week we train and encourage passing, to work together and that most importantly that they are a team not a bunch of individuals. It’s not about winning it’s about enjoying football.

They are just 9 and 10 year olds. Do certain trophies encourage individualism and isolate certain team players from being able to win them?

What do you think?


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Football Scouts – Guidance for Grassroots Football

Many of us, coaches, parents, league officials and players will have come across a football scout at some point. How can we check they are who they say they are? What are their obligations you may ask and who do they need to identify themselves are questions you may have.

Below we have the FA guide on the Code of Conduct for scouting.

Football Scouts – Guidance for Grassroots Football

  • Professional Club Scouts (sometimes referred to as Recruitment Officers in the Premier League) should identify themselves to the Club Managers / Officials at the start of a game or training session if they are there to scout for players.
  • Always challenge any unidentified or suspicious adults observing matches and ask about their involvement with the game.
  • If a person identifies themselves as a Club Scout always ask to see their identification, if they are unable to provide any identification ask them for their name and the person at the Club who they formally report to.
  • If they cannot provide identification or contact details for verification and choose to stay at the game / training session ensure that they are not left on their own.
  • If you have any reason to be suspicious of their actions or intent contact the Club for verification of the ID where it has been given; where there is no ID you may wish to ask them to leave or contact the police.
  • Report as soon as is realistically possible to your County FA Welfare Officer the name of the individual who has claimed to be a Scout, and the Club that they claimed to be working, for, where no identification has been provided or where you have reason to doubt the validity of the ID.

Let’s Make Football Safe – Not Sorry

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  1. The function of a Scout is to identify to his Club players with whom his Club may wish to enter into negotiations with a view to securing their registration. Scouts are not themselves entitled to enter into any such negotiations nor are they able to make promises to or offer inducements to any players whom they approach.
  2. Scouts are employed by and represent their Clubs and are Officials within the meaning of the Rules of the F.A Premier League (“the Rules”) by which they are bound.
  3. Scouts must therefore be familiar with the Rules and in particular Section N relating to Youth Development. They must maintain an awareness of and at all times comply with the Rules setting out the circumstances in which their Club may make an approach to a Player or Student (as defined in the Rules) whose registration is held by another Club.
  4. When acting in the course of his duties a Scout shall at all times carry the formal means of identification issued to him by his Club and shall produce the same upon demand.
  5. Scouts are responsible for the conduct of their contacts and shall be liable for any act or omission by a contact which constitutes a breach of the Rules.
  6. Scouts shall conduct themselves in a manner befitting their role as Officials of their Clubs and shall take all possible steps to promote the reputation of the game of association football and to prevent it being brought into disrepute.
  7. A Scout shall forthwith disclose to his Club the nature and extent of any direct or indirect interest he may have in any transaction or arrangement involving his Club and he shall account to his Club for any benefit which either directly or indirectly he derives therefrom.
  8. A Scout shall conduct himself at all times in an ethical and professional manner and shall observe the highest standards of integrity and fair dealing.

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Grassroots Activity Fund helps celebrate the diversity and inclusivity of women’s football

From Prejudice to Pride in partnership with Kick it Out, Grassroots and Cheshire FA hosted a women’s football tournament as part of LGBT History Month.

The aim was to celebrate the diversity and inclusivity of women’s football from the 1920s to the present day.

The 5-a-side tournament was open to existing teams or groups of friends who wish to get a team together to come along and play. The information was distributed through the Cheshire Women’s Football networks by Cheshire FA. There was a very positive response with many teams expressing support and enthusiasm for the idea. Some teams were unable to participate due to prior commitments but on the day eight teams took part in the round robin tournament for the Lily Parr Trophy.

The matches were played on the 3G pitches at Moss Farm, Northwich, the base of Cheshire FA.

There was also the opportunity for people watching to get involved:

  • Human table football
  • Skills for girls
  • Beginners taster sessions

The tournament was won by a team from Manchester Metropolitan University based in Crewe, Cheshire. In addition to the main trophy both teams of finalists received rainbow laces and there were also awards for players of the match and fair play through the tournament. The day was played in an excellent spirit with all teams sharing pizzas after the matches.

All the teams showed an enthusiasm to carry the messages of inclusion and diversity onwards and do more work to ensure they are welcoming to all women and girls interested in taking up football.

The Cheshire FA hosted the exhibition of memorabilia and artefacts barrowed from Cheshire Museum service including display panels, vintage football boots, shirts and the original minutes of Cheshire FA ban on the women’s game from affiliated pitches in 1921.

This event was funded by the Kick it Out Grassroots activity fund, find out more by clicking the image below.

A Letter from a dying Coach – The Last Team Talk

Hello to anybody and everybody who will take the time to read this. If I bore you I apologise. If you take something from it, I’ll be delighted.

Now every manager loves a good team talk. They are what motivates and inspires our players. They set instructions and guidance for what our players need to do in a game. What I bet most managers and coaches don’t think about is what their last ever team talk will be.

Unfortunately, I have to.

I have cancer.

Not the okay kind, not even the slightly harsh kind but the deadly kind. I am dying. This cancer will kill me and it can’t be stopped. Let’s be clear, I’m not happy about this. It sucks on so many levels, but what can I do? What it did was it got me thinking. I won’t be taking the Ravens all the way and I won’t see them fully develop into young adults. So I plan to take them as far as I can for how long I’ve got left.

Russ far left

Now this was a decision that it took me a few weeks to come to and to decide to enjoy the ride whilst I can. It offered a clarity that I’ve never had before. The clarity that football for children is all about enjoyment. That is what I’ll be teaching from now on. Football is called a sport, but it’s also a game. Games are there to be enjoyed.

For me this is a message that has gotten lost.

I’ve seen first hand children lose their love of the game because parents and coaches alike have sucked the enjoyment out of the game. Why as managers do we allow this to happen? We have a duty to make sure our players look forward to games with the same excitement week in week out. We as managers need to look forward to these games as much as the players.

We need to make sure that enjoyment is the main priority for everybody. The enlightening thing about being told you’re dying is you get to choose how to live your remaining days. For me I plan to spend as much time having fun as I can and making sure that the players around me have as much fun as they can. I simply refuse to make a player feel bad because they’ve missed as penalty, misplaced a pass or lacks natural ability in their game.

Now you may read this and dismiss it that’s your choice. The one thing to think about is, you never know when your last team talk will be or the last time you see your child play football. I know that time for me is soon and I want to make it an incredible experience.


KAFC Ravens



Working Together to Safeguard Football – The FAs’ Policy and Procedures

Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility

To make sure you have appropriate safeguards in your club or league it is important everyone is aware of your safeguarding children policy and the procedures for reporting a concern about the welfare of a child

Your designated safeguarding officer (club welfare officer) will be able to advise you, but if you want to find out more about how to increase your understanding of safeguarding in football why not complete the Safeguarding Children workshop – for more information visit the safeguarding learning page.

Every affiliated  club and league with youth teams must have in place a Safeguarding Children Policy and Procedures.

The FA has developed a template policy for grassroots clubs, click here to view.

Grassroots Football, Safeguarding Children

Simply click to view Grassroots Footballs Policy and Procedures to gain guidance on: recruiting volunteers, getting the essentials in place, dealing with poor practice, bullying and abuse. Developed specifically to support grassroots clubs and leagues with young teams. Club and Youth League Welfare Offices will be given a copy as part of the The FAs Welfare Officer Workshop.

 Anti-bullying policy

The FA defines bullying as one of the five categories of abuse. Having an Anti-bullying policy in place will help everyone understand what is and is not acceptable within your club. Having a clear process will help your club to manage any issues and hopefully prevent bullying. Simply click here to download The FAs recommended Anti Bullying Policy.


Whistle-blowing can be used as an early warning system or when it’s recognised that appropriate actions have not been taken. This approach or policy is adopted in many different walks of life.

It is about revealing and raising concerns over misconduct or malpractice within an organisation or within an independent structure associated with it.

Any adult or young person with concerns about a colleague can also use whistle-blowing by calling 0800 169 1863 and asking for The FA’s safeguarding team, or via email on

Alternatively you can go direct the Police or Children’s Social Care and report your concerns there, or to the Child Protection in Sport Unit via or the NSPCC Helpline via 0808 800 5000 or by emailing

Simply click to view ‘Affiliated Footballs’ overarching Safeguarding Children Policy and Procedures. Endorsed and co-developed by The FA, Premier League, Football League, PFA, LMA, Football Foundation, League Football Education and NSPCC Child Protection in Sport Unit.

Attending a Hearing

There may be occasions when are you are asked to attend to a Disciplinary Hearing – either as a Player charged with misconduct, or attending as a witness to misconduct, or as a Match Official giving evidence.

The FA has produced a series of guides to help prepare you for the Hearing and let you know what to expect covering topics such as:

What should I bring with to the hearing?
What should I wear?
Can I bring witnesses with me?
How long do Personal Hearings normally last?
What happens if I am not happy with the result of my Hearing?
Procedures for young people

These can be downloaded from the resources section below.

Top scouts offer invaluable tips to grassroots players

It takes a certain amount of dedication to get out of bed on a cold and rainy weekend morning to kick a ball around a waterlogged pitch. Faced with typical grassroots conditions, football is often anything but a beautiful game, so what keeps players coming back week after week?

In the majority of cases, grassroots footballers lace up their boots purely for the love of the game and the comradery of being part of a team. And of course the slim hope that a Premier League scout may be out there watching.

Jamie Vardy’s zero-to-hero experience has undoubtedly given lower league players hope, and recent interviews with Crystal Palace’s chief scout Tim Coe and Revo Sports Management scout Joel Purkiss indicate that it has also affected how scouts go about looking for new recruits.

Speaking to teamwear supplier Kitlocker, these top scouts admitted that all eyes are on the lower level teams. They also went on to reveal exactly what they look for on a position-by-positon basis:


Goolkeepers need to be able to read the game and make informed decisions. Other desirable qualities for a goalkeeper include having a good command of the area and the essential ability to handle and prevent goals.

Centre Back

Understanding when to go into a tackle and when to fall back and cover a team mate is a crucial skill for a Centre Back, and one that is difficult to teach. Play is now moving away from the traditional ‘Kick it, Head it’ mentality; a player that displays confidence with the ball at their feet is much more valuable.

Full Back

Athleticism is a prime quality for the modern full back position, as players are expected to get up and down the pitch as quickly as possible. The 3-5-2 formation requires full backs to take on more of an attacking role, something that is becoming increasingly popular in the Premier League.

Wide Midfielders

Decision making — in particular knowing when to cross, pass or dribble — is a key quality for a wide midfielder. Players who instinctively look to attack, create chances and get forward to score goals are also more desirable.

Central Midfielders

Central midfielders are expected to be able to provide the whole package, including possessing excellent ball skills, the ability to get into the box to score and to provide for the rest of the team.


Unsurprisingly, it is all about the goals with strikers. Aside from a natural instinct for scoring goals, they are also required to be clever with the run, create space and hold off defenders.

Scouting the lower leagues

Putting Tim and Joel’s advice into play will help tailor performance (mentally and physically) to suit the characteristics that scouts are looking for. Refining play to suit these requirements will undoubtedly put a player in a much better position to get their ‘Vardy moment’, as Tim Coe concludes:

 “We spend the vast majority of our time watching lower league and non-league football. There is a lot of talent and potential and there are a lot of examples of players who have risen through the levels to play at the highest level.”  

Article courtesy of

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Sign up HERE for FA Girls Football Week 23-29 April

This year’s FA Girls Football Week will run from 23rd April – 29th April 2018.

It will be a fun filled week of activities designed to get as many girls involved in playing football.

Whether girls play regularly or are lacing their boots for the first time, it is a great opportunity for them to get active, meet new friends and have fun!

Supported by Disney for the first time, we will provide registered organisers with a range of coaching session resources which use Disney story-telling to deliver football related activities.This allows girls’ taking part to imagine the fantasy world of their favourite Disney films whilst also learning and developing essential football skills.

When you register your activities you will also receive a range of digital marketing resources and guidelines to help you promote your events, as well as support on how to deliver activities in a fun and safe environment.

Register your events before 28th February 2018 and you will be entered into a prize draw to win a hospitality box at Wembley Stadium for the Women’s FA Cup Final on 5th May 2018.


10 common problems every coach will encounter and the Solution

Rarely do coaching sessions or match days go perfectly to plan. Here, FA county coach developer, Lee Brown, outlines 10 common problems encountered by coaches offering a variety of solutions you can use with your players.

1) The session isn’t working

If your session has lots of intricacies and isn’t going to plan, it’s important to ask yourself “why are the players there?” The answer is always: to play a game. Don’t be afraid to put them into a match if things aren’t going well, but also consider how you can achieve a tangible outcome that links to your learning objective. Challenge the players. “Try to dribble past at least one player before sharing or shooting” is a good match based dribbling challenge.

2) The players aren’t grasping the session topic

Patience is required when players are trying to learn new things. There are times when the group won’t get things first or second time and the coach should be there to support and help. What the players don’t need is for the practice to be stopped as soon as it looks like they’re struggling. Give them time to solve problems and work things out for themselves

First Aid Kit including Accident book

3) Some of the players are finding the practice too easy, or too hard

Using the STEP principle during the session – changing space, task, equipment, players –can help engage, challenge and motivate the group. By adapting, editing and changing different aspects of the practice you can find different outcomes for everyone. Make plans that allow you to simplify or extend practices and appropriately challenge individuals.

4) I don’t have enough players to have even teams

When the team numbers at training aren’t evenly matched, coaches often find themselves joining in or going in goal. Instead, it’s important to try and link the session objective with specific situations in the game where there are uneven numbers. For example, think about a centre forward receiving back to goal against two defenders.

Players need to practise different game scenarios where they have either more or less players than the opposition.

5) What should I do if a player gets injured or has to leave early?

Sometimes players have to leave a practice session early or aren’t feeling well – it is an issue that also occurs on match day. Use the opportunity to practise that scenario. For example: pretend a player has been sent-off. There are lots of scenarios that occur in football where things are out of your control as a coach. The more you practise them, the more comfortable they will become.

6) I want to play a ‘proper’ game but we only have one goal to use

To make a practice game-related you would ideally have two goals to use – but this isn’t a reality for all coaches. If you only have one goal, you might want to consider using a phase of play type practice where one team attacks the goal and the other has to attack a mini-goal, end-line or play into a target player before allowing the practice to start again going the other way.

7) Our goalkeeper hasn’t turned up

It’s not imperative that you have a goalkeeper for training. Instead, let different players have a go in goal just in case the goalkeeper isn’t available on match day. Taking turns as the a goalkeeper can also help shape positive behaviour. By working together to have a go as the goalkeeper the players will develop a number of social skills about co-operation and teamwork.

FREE Coaching session plans HERE

8) We’re losing the game but need to make substitutions for equal game time

Match day is the acid test for your coaching philosophy. If your team is 1-0 down and you are concerned about ‘weakening’ your team to provide equal playing time– what will you do? In answering this, it is important to ask yourself what your role is as the adult and coach? If you believe in learning and development at training then your behaviour should be consistent.

9) The kids won’t stop messing around

If the players are displaying poor behaviour then you may feel frustrated and feel the urge to stop the practice. Instead, it is important to understand that you can’t always control the players’ behaviour, but you can control your own. By staying in control of your emotions you can look at tweaking the session to motivate the players with a calm mindset.

10) I get too caught up in the action on match day

Using a notebook or a whiteboard on match day can help to manage the emotion of the event. Making notes or setting observation tasks for the substitutes can help you manage your emotional responses and prevent you from solely focusing on the ball or the result. It will also help you consider what you’re going to say during the breaks. Challenge yourself to be absolutely silent for at least 2 minutes of your next game and evaluate what effect it has on the player’s decision-making

Article courtesy of the FA Bootroom, and written by Lee Brown, FA county developer Follow: @leebrownNFA

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The trials and tribulations of a Grassroots Coach – Its Cup Final day

Cup Final Day – its Sunday, 6.15 am and I’m wide awake still thinking about team selection. If I’ve learnt anything this season, it is that you can bend over backwards for the kids’ parents and you’ll still never make some happy.

My father-in-law died a week ago. Things have been tough. Life goes on I know, but he would have been here today to watch Harrison play. He came to a few games in the past. He’d come along with his wife Marge, watch and You wouldn’t even know they were there. No shouting or ‘encouraging’ as it’s called these days. He would have loved it today.

Mothers Day gift for any Footy Mum £5.99

I look up and can see Alfie in the stands. You can spot him a mile away because he’s got a huge red foam hand that his grandad got for him. He’s here in spirit most definitely. I wish he was here, I miss him terribly. His death has hit everyone hard.

On cup final days you imagine that nothing can go wrong because it’s been planned for ages. We’ve talked it through, we’ve trained for it and we’ve planned it to the finest detail. Which is why I’m reminded of Michael Douglas in the film Falling Down, a man one bluebottle away from meltdown, when Corey the keeper turns up with no boots or gloves. They’re locked in the car and he can’t get them. ‘Whhaaatttt?’

To put this into perspective Corey has already turned up twenty minutes late, we are kicking off in less than half an hour. The ground is partly on the rat run for Manchester’s Ikea and he’s telling me he’ll be back soon, he’s just nipping home! Off he goes into a swell of supporters as I feel the effects of another hair gently leaving my head, never to return.

I hastily ask around the other coaches whether anyone has any spare gloves, they don’t. Family and friends are trying to talk to me but I need to be on the pitch, the players need warming up. I finally get pitch side and tell Ben what’s happened. We decide that Leighton is our best option for replacement keeper, only he doesn’t want to do it. I can’t blame him, I wouldn’t want to either.

First Aid Kit Large
Grassroots First Aid HERE

I should be soaking all this up. We’re at the Tameside Stadium, there’s a big crowd of supporters in the stands and the sun has made an appearance, all as it should be on cup final day. However I’m a goalkeeper down and it’s ten minutes to kick off. Suddenly as if by magic, Corey appears, in boots and gloves. If this was Hollywood he’d probably arrive on a white swan with trumpets blaring out Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto, declaring he was here to save the day. As it happens he just smirks and says ‘Chill Steve’ another hair tumbles.

I look out to the stands and hope that all the people that have turned up wont be disappointed with the result. It sounds daft but I feel quite emotional, it’s been a journey for all of us, the ups and downs, the freezing weather, the rain, the cheap coffee. Six months ago we didn’t have a club and now here we are a cup final.

This isn’t about ego, its about sharing. It’s about a group of parents coming together every weekend to support and cheer on their loved ones. All of us as one, all pulling together after a bad week at work, or another stack of bills landing on the doormat. A chance to be with our children and enjoy watching them having fun and hopefully winning.

Extracts from Steve O’Donoghues’ Grassroots Diary.


Extract from Junior Football – It’s not a man’s game. Buy a copy here for £6.99


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Try the FAs’ seven behaviour management tips at your next training session and observe the impact on your players.

1) Get started quickly

Get the players on task quickly. By doing so, a coach can identify which players want to focus and which may need additional support as the session develops.

2) Don’t give your attention to those who are poorly behaved

Give it when it is deserved. Affording attention to players for doing the wrong thing sends the message that negative behaviour is a method of gaining the coach’s time. Instead, seek out players who are performing well, trying hard and investing in their own learning and make a strong example of this positive behaviour.

3) Let the players make some of the decisions

Give ownership to players, it will give them more involvement and more control over their own development.


4) Don’t stop the whole group to highlight a ‘mistake’

Don’t draw attention to individual player mistakes. If guidance is required, it should be one-to-one while the other players are busy with the task.


5) Encourage group work and discussion

Get the players to work together in small groups. Challenge them to work together in identifying ways of succeeding in tasks and practices. Give them ownership for solving the task.

10 Balls for £60 HERE

6) Let the players know your session is a ‘safe’ place


Make the players feel comfortable making mistakes and give them the freedom to try again and self-correct.


7) More time on task

No need for lengthy instruction or de-briefs. Get the players in, get them on task and get them playing. Want more top-tips like this? Read our guide to effective behaviour management here


Article courtesy of The FA Boot Room


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I only came to watch my son play football – it wasn’t meant to be like this….

I can’t believe it, I’m walking across the quagmire that is to be the pitch for my youngest son Alfie’s first ever cup match for his Under 9’s team. It’s windy and cold, the parents are putting a brave face on it, but it’s one of those blow your umbrella inside out kind of days.

The weather though, isn’t what concerns me. It’s 10 minutes to kick off and Butch, the under 9’s manager, is nowhere to be seen. It’s a bit weird because his son is here, but he’s not. My phone rings, it’s Butch. ‘Hi mate, sorry but I’m running really late, youse know what to do, can you sort it, y’know, pick the team and that?’ ‘Erm OK, how long will you be?’

‘Not long mate, I’ll be there soon, maybe 20 minutes, just pick the team.’ And then he’s gone.

Funding Available HERE

Oh dear, I don’t want to do this, it’s not my age group, and I don’t know the kids all that well. I figure I should get the boys warmed up, so I call the lads together and ask them to form a circle, which they do but it is the most unlike circle shape I’ve ever come across. You will see this warm up drill done up and down the country at most junior games, it’s a very basic version of a practice called a Rondo. It is a great way to get the lads going because it allows the kids to still chat and joke amongst themselves before the game starts while at the same time encouraging them to focus on their passing and movement. It’s a bit like piggy in the middle.

The circle of players has to pass the ball to one another across the circle without the player in the middle intercepting the ball. If your pass is intercepted, you then swap places with the player in the middle. The object of the game is not to be the one in the middle, but inexplicably all the under 9’s want to be in the middle.

They all start chanting “Can I be in the middle? Please let me be in the middle!” The circle is breaking; the kids are moving towards me, I’m surrounded by blood-thirsty children chanting “Steve” in unison. Arms in the air, eyes wide, some of them are so close; they’re actually tugging at my jacket. The circle is now non- existent, I am surrounded; it wasn’t meant to be like this, I only came to watch my son play football. The chant goes on Steve, Steve, Steve. Oh God, I can’t breathe, someone help me.

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I look over to the parents in desperation but they appear to be laughing. Just as I think I’m going to black out, a hand lands on my shoulder. ‘Alright mate? I’m the referee.’ I turn to face my saviour. ‘Thank God’ I say, and without thinking, give him a hug.

Imagine being the captain of a sinking ship, and telling the last remaining passenger that there is no more room in the lifeboat, and that they’re probably going to drown. The look on that passengers face? That’s the same look you get from an 8 year old who you’ve just told is going to be a substitute. In this case Oliver.

‘Ollie, you are starting as my super sub today, OK?’ ‘Oi, Ollie, don’t cry mate, honestly you’ll be on very soon.’ ‘Where’s Butch?’ he asks tearfully. ‘He’ll be here soon, but he told me that you were starting as sub’ I lie. Such are my feelings of guilt at seeing little Oliver’s distraught face, I actually contemplate sneaking him on when the referee isn’t looking.

Tye the self-appointed captain and probably more importantly, Butch’s son, wins the toss and opts to take the kick in the face of a wind so strong, that the ball refuses to stay put on the centre spot and keeps rolling away.We kick off; the ball is played back to the edge of the centre circle, so far so good. We’ve been playing for 5 seconds when I get a tug on my sleeve, it’s Oliver, ‘Am I going on yet?’ ‘Soon Ollie mate, soon.’

This interaction between caretaker manager and the worlds most over enthusiastic substitute continues throughout the opening 5 minutes as Oliver matches me, stride for stride, stalking me up and down the touchline.

By this time we are 2-0 down and I give up on any chance that I might shake Ollie off. I turn to face him, his pleading eyes looking up at me beneath his rain splattered specs. ‘OK mate, I’m bringing you on’ His face beams. ‘Listen Oliver, you are going to play on the right side of midfield. So that is on this side, where we are stood. But remember Ollie, you’ve got to hold your position and you must get back and help the defence.’

I look into his eyes; he seems to have understood what I’m saying. I literally have to hold him back from running straight onto the pitch, explaining that we have to wait for the play to stop. It gives me one last opportunity to relay my instructions once more. ‘Right midfield mate, just in front of where we are, up and down yeah?’ ‘Yes’ he beams whilst performing such obscure body movements, that I actually look round wondering if someone has tasered him.

The ball goes out on the far side ‘Ref, sub please.’ I look to Oliver but he’s already moving. He runs onto the pitch, star jumping whilst simultaneously shouting ‘yes, yes, yes.’ Finally he comes to a stop, focuses on what we’ve discussed, and takes up his position, on the left …

My début as under 9’s manager ends in a closely contested 8-0 drubbing, which at one point saw our goalkeeper, Evan standing in his net, facing the wrong way sulking, because in his opinion, the last goal didn’t count. He offers no explanation why this is, he’s just simply decided.

Unfortunately the referee didn’t see it that way and awarded the perfectly good goal to the opposition.We also conceded one goal because he’d spotted a worm in the six yard box and didn’t want to step on it. ‘Save the ball, not the worm’ I wanted to shout but for all I know, I may be looking at the next Chris Packham.

By that stage Oliver had wandered upfront, I knew this because he was talking to the opposition’s keeper who, incidentally, was wearing the cleanest kit on the pitch.

Two minutes after the final whistle Butch telephones telling me he’s just pulling into the car park …

This article is an extract from Steve O’Donoghues’ new book It’s not a man’s game. Buy a copy for £6.99 by clicking the image below.

Extract from Junior Football – It’s not a man’s game. Buy a copy here for £6.99

Premier League Primary Stars Kit and Equipment Scheme

High quality football kit and equipment is being made available to primary schools across England and Wales, as the Premier League Primary Stars Kit and Equipment Scheme is opening for applications on Monday 19 February.

Delivered by the Football Foundation and run in partnership with Nike and Kitlocker, the Kit and Equipment scheme enables schools who sign up to the Premier League Primary Stars programme to apply for free football kits and equipment. This gives school kids access to new, Premier League quality football kit, encouraging them to get involved in sport, whilst also giving teachers access to a host of resources applicable to a number of classroom subjects.

What kit and equipment is available?

Available in a variety of styles and colours, this year’s kit package includes: 14 Nike football shirts and 1 Nike goalkeeper shirt numbered, 15 pairs of shorts and 15 pairs of socks. As well as one Nike tracksuit for the teacher.

The equipment package includes: a Nike trolley bag, 12 Nike match balls (6x size 3 and 6x size 4), 16 Nike training bibs, 4 pop-up goals, two sets of throw down floor spots (one marked A-Z and the other 1-30), a set of 9” cones marked 0-9, a set of 8x 6″ training cones, five large foam dice, a captain’s armband, 30 bean bags, a ball carrier net, 4 balloon balls, 5 hula hoops, and one Nike tracksuit for the teacher.

This year’s application window, open to schools that have not already received resources from the 2017 programme, will run from Monday 19 February to Friday 6 April. Successful applicants will receive their kit / equipment from September 2018.

Schools should visit for details of how to apply for the kit and equipment – and how to access the other exciting Premier League Primary Stars resources that are available to them.

What are the timings?

This year’s application window runs from Monday 19 February 2018 until Friday 6 April 2018. Successful applicants will be notified by Monday 16 April 2018 and provided with a redemption code to claim their kit or equipment by Friday 11 May 2018. Kit or equipment will be delivered to schools between September and October 2018.

Apply HERE