Tag: coaching

The 23rd Barrowford Celtic Youth Football Tournament 2017

Tournament Name:
The 23rd Barrowford Celtic Youth Football Tournament 2017

Tournament Organiser:
Paul Ashworth

Tournament Web Address:


Entry Fee:

Tournament Email Address:

Tournament Address:
8 Eden Close




Tournament Information:
The 23rd Barrowford Celtic Youth Football Tournament 2017 Info Sheet We are pleased to announce our summer junior football tournament for Saturday 3rd & Sunday 4th June 2017. This is an all-day tournament; refreshments will be available to purchase throughout the day.

The tournament will be held at Bullholme Playing Fields, Barrowford, BB9 8PU and the adjacent Swinden Playing Fields, Nelson, BB9 8SJ, Lancashire.

The cost of entry is £30 for U9 & U10, £35 for U11 & U12, £40 for U13 & U14. Max two teams per club for each age group. Age groups present season 2016/17. All teams to be County registered. No academy teams allowed or players allowed. All teams must have played in a grass roots league, season 2016/17, league player ID cards will be required at registration to verify player eligibility.

U9s – Saturday 3rd June (7 a-side) max registered players 12.

U10s – Sunday 4th June (7 a-side) max registered players 12.

U11s – Saturday 3rd June (9 a-side) max registered players 13.

U12s – Sunday 4th June (9 a-side) max registered players 13.

U13s – Saturday 3rd June (11 a-side) max registered players 16.

U14s – Sunday 4th June (11 a-side) max registered players 16.

U13s Girls – Saturday 3rd June (6 a-side) max registered players 10.

U15s Girls – Sunday 4th June (6 a-side) max registered players 10.

For an Entry Form and further details contact: Paul Ashworth Mobile: 07855874555 E-mail: info@barrowfordceltic.org.uk Cheques made payable to Barrowford Celtic Bank transfer details: Sort Code: 05-03-83, Account Number: 34594615, please put name of team and age group in reference area. Closing Date: 12th May 2017 Fully sanctioned by the FA All teams will get as much playing time as possible and allowed by FA guidelines, with waiting times and times between games kept to a minimum. Competition format (if all places filled): 12 teams per age group, divided into 2 leagues, top 2 in each group go through into the Cup semi final, 3rd and 4th progress into the Shield, and 5th and 6th into the Plate. Fair play award for each age group. The tournament committee reserve the right to modify the format of the competition at any time.

Club Secretary


Paul Ashworth


“The perfect session” Why players shouldn’t be the only ones learning during a session

The idea of delivering the ‘perfect’ coaching session can prove restrictive for coaches who want to learn and get better, explains FA Coach Mentor, Graeme Carrick.

Asking players to step out of their comfort zone, try new things and experiment, are common coaching requests. However, how many coaches can honestly say they are willing to make a few mistakes in order to improve their own practice?

“As coaches we have to learn and part of learning is that we have to step out of our comfort zone and go through the different stages of learning. If we do a session for the first time the chance is it’s not going to be perfect,” explains Graeme Carrick, FA Coach Mentor.

For Carrick, who has worked in a variety of coaching and mentoring roles at The FA over the last nine years, each session is simply an opportunity for coaches to reflect and get better – whether that is during the session or afterwards.

“As coaches we’re learning as well as the players. We would expect players to self-correct and reflect on decisions and say next time I would do this or that differently. It’s the same as coaches when you find there is a problem in the session.”

Intentionally trying to make sense of experiences during and after a coaching session is crucial to inform future thinking and practice. And that doesn’t just include the parts of the session that ‘went wrong’ but the positive aspects as well, explains Carrick.

“It is important that after the session you ask: How did it go? What was good about it? What would you do again? What would you not do again? And for all of the questions ask: why? It’s about trying to make sense of it all.

“If you can do this over a block of work, you’ll start to see development in yourself over the longer term. You’ll see a shift in yourself as well as in the kids,” he adds.

A clear learning objective and focus for the session is crucial if effective reflection is going to take place, explains Carrick.

“It’s important to have clarity in terms of what you’re going to look for in the session and clarity in terms of the things you want to see and bring out. That will give you things to reflect against during the session and you will be able to look at the things the kids are doing.”

With a clear idea of the aim of the session, coaches can start to focus on observation skills and the ‘art of noticing’.

“Within any group there’s going to be lots of stuff going on – so it’s important to answer: what are you looking for and what are you looking at? Sometimes when you try to see everything, you see nothing,” explains Carrick.

“When we first start out with coaching we’re really concerned with organisation, sessions, and how it looks and a feeling of control. As you become more experienced you realise you are more comfortable with that and so that doesn’t take up your attention as much – you’re quite happy with that so you can move on. Now you’re free to look more closely at the players and how they are getting on individually,” he adds.

Carrick believes that starting a coaching practice with a game can prevent coaches getting caught up in issues of practice organisation and instead focus on setting appropriate challenges and observing the players.

“If you start with a game it’s a great way of getting the kids active but it’s also a great of way seeing how they’re getting on with the task and challenges. You can focus your observations more around that than the organisation and how the session is running.

“The challenge might be as simple as: you want the kids to take up better supporting positions. So you’re looking at what the kids are doing off the ball.

“Then you’re reflecting on: how well did they do and did they get a chance to practice it. If so, why? If not, why? And most importantly: what are you going to do for next time? That might be your reflective process. The same observation and reflective process is also equally important on matchdays” adds Carrick.

This article courtesy of Graeme Carrick via the Boot Room, follow Graeme HERE @Graemecarrick


Managing player behaviour

Understanding what young players want from their grassroots football experience can help prevent poor behaviour, writes FA county coach developer, Mike Antrobus.

Poor player behaviour at training or matchday is often caused by boredom, the desire for attention, or the practice activity being pitched too hard or easy.


From a dream of a season, one training session has left me absolutely heartbroken.

This season has been my first proper season of coaching my own team and I can say it’s honestly been fantastic. I’ve loved every moment, and I’m sure the players and parents have done also. I’ve been ever so excited looking forward to next season, making all sorts of plans.

However, life doesn’t always go as you plan.

One parent told me last night  that their child was potentially thinking of joining another team they had been training with all season; not a problem. I supported him training with another team, as his dad was happy to support him to play more football. I encourage players to make their own choices and am glad it is his decision!

Continue reading “From a dream of a season, one training session has left me absolutely heartbroken.”

The problem with academies…

There’s no doubt that football academies are harsh environments. The FA’s official website even describes the process of getting released by one as ‘heart-breaking’, which, considering they’re trying to increase participation levels, is hardly encouraging…

It’s entirely truthful though and not particularly surprising; when the stakes are so high, the consequences of being rejected become even more considerable. The disappointment of being let go by a big-name Premier League club would be enough to crush any youngster so, when the huge financial influence is also factored in, the pressure can often become unbearable.

Continue reading “The problem with academies…”

What I saw was inspirational, I saw happy kids.

It felt like watching Neville and Carragher discussing a Premier league game…….

Yes that’s right.

On my travels yesterday I was invited to a training session in Leeds to observe the kids, what I observed were a great bunch of coaches with excellent rapport and a healthy team-coach relationship.

Continue reading “What I saw was inspirational, I saw happy kids.”

Coaching, its easy!!! isn’t it….

Before we discuss what qualities and skill sets that make for a good coach, we need to first acknowledge how very difficult this profession of coaching really is. Coaching is sometimes a thankless, frustrating “no-win” kind of activity.  It’s most often done in a public fishbowl.

Continue reading “Coaching, its easy!!! isn’t it….”


When I started at The FA only five months ago, I said how delighted I was to become Chairman and that I was relishing the challenge. I also said that it was an honour to join The FA at such a pivotal point in the organisation’s recent history. In my first few months in charge there have already been a few pivotal moments for The FA.

This week we have another challenge – a perennial one it seems for football – as The FA’s governance will be debated in Parliament on Thursday.

Our governance needs changing. We do need to be more diverse, more open about decision-making and we do need to better represent those playing the game. But we are not sitting idly by. The FA has a set of proposals to improve our governance which we will ratify and then take to the Minister of Sport in order to get her approval. Change won’t be easy, but I am confident it will happen – and it will be substantial.

Delivering real change is my responsibility and I firmly believe this is critical for the future of the game. If the Government is not supportive of the changes when they are presented in the coming months, I will take personal responsibility for that. I will have failed. I will be accountable for that failure and would in due course step down from my role.

However, I don’t believe that The FA is failing football. That’s completely different. In fact I strongly dispute the motion put in front of Parliament that The FA is not meeting its duties as a governing body.

I do hope that those attending on Thursday make themselves aware of The FA’s duties and the great work we are actually doing. Our duties require us to promote, develop and invest in the game; and whilst I freely admit that our governance needs improvement, it doesn’t prevent us from supporting the game from top to bottom. In fact The FA is in good shape. It is investing record amounts into the grassroots game and changing the face of football in England.

Many people hear talk of an old-fashioned FA, but they don’t actually realise how it works or what it does. That’s a real shame. The FA is a not-for-profit organisation that invested over £65m into grassroots football last year alone – that’s more than any governing body in the world invests into a national sport.

Football at the grassroots is alive and kicking. Traditional eleven-a-side formats of the game may not be fitting into modern lifestyles so well, but we are adapting. 12 million people play football every year and flexible formats such as mini-soccer and walking football are growing at record pace.

Women’s football is also on the up. It is the third-most-popular team sport behind men’s cricket – for now, that is, as we have a plan in place to double our number of female players by 2020.

We also fund a massive facilities programme with £22m every year going into desperately-needed new playing facilities. We know other countries have better facilities than us, but we also know that this duty rarely falls to the football authorities in those countries.

Of course one of our primary duties is to deliver winning England teams. Like every English football fan I am desperate to achieve success with England – not just with the men’s senior team but with every one of our 24 men’s, women’s, youth and disability teams. We know England can and must do better, and at St. George’s Park we have a well-resourced and determined team striving to achieve our ambitions.

I hope Thursday’s debate genuinely reflects all the work of The FA and the positive impact football has in communities up and down England. I am also confident that when the time comes to present our changes to the Minister, she will agree that we are making positive and pro-active change.

I’m still very much relishing the challenge here at The FA. Whether it’s The Emirates FA Cup or The FA People’s Cup, we’re getting things done. Having started my football journey as a programme seller at Leicester City, it’s a pleasure to be leading The FA and really making a difference across football.


3 points at what cost !! Will I sacrifice player participation for the win…..

I never wrote a match report on Saturday!

Why ?

Because I was more interested in the physiological effect the 3 points would impact on me as coach. I always revisit games for days afterwards in my head.

The what if’s, the buts, the why’s and when’s. How can I help the children for next week. Unlike any other week this week was extra important. I needed to ask myself what impact the 3 points had over being fair.

Did the win sacrifice player participation? Luckily the answer is No. But it quite easily could have. I learnt of the added pressure for 3 points. Why ? Parent pressure, league pressure, team/club rivalry. Ex coaches showing their abundance of trophies at that level.

The only people not to accept any pressure is the children. They just want to play football and have fun, right ? If I was guilty of one thing it was taking the ownership away from the kids. I pigeon holed them into their best positions, I got lost in the environment and focused on 3 points. Do I feel great for it ? No and neither do the kids.


They don’t care about the 3 points. Don’t get me wrong wanting to win is perfectly natural, but kids would rather play and lose than warm the bench and win Roll on next week, back to full player ownership.

Athletes learn by doing, not by watching ! Don’t deprive children the opportunity to learn. Once the 3 points take priority excluding and demoralising a child in the process by turning them into part playing bench warmers it’s time to step down as a coach and go home.

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Investment in coaches or facilities, What would be your priority??

I was wondering what people’s thoughts were on where the priority for investment should be. Recently I’ve seen many few posts about mini soccer being played indoors in the winter or even converting to Futsal.

I’ve seen some good points made, and some points I don’t agree with on this debate. A few years ago when the FA announced a new blue print for mini soccer, I like a lot of people was encouraged by the plans and ideas. People involved within grassroots football, from mini soccer to semi pro standard were impressed that after decades of minimum funding, we would be part a promising future.

Design and print yours for FREE
Design and print yours for FREE

The promise of higher standards of coaching, better facilities leading to more promising children coming through. I feel that what was set by the FA has made no improvement at all because the plans were flawed from the start. The FA chose to copy the Dutch way of coaching total football, which in my case was out dated and then tried to add tiki taka, which again I feel is becoming out dated.

The FA focused on getting coaches qualified to a minimum stage of level 1 and 2 coaching. My personal view on this is its a way for the FA to generate income and not in the best interests of the sport. For example in almost all walks of life there are more than 1 organisation to buy a service from in this case a coaching course, however to be involved in the sport the one recognised qualifications are FA ones, who set the prices!! If there were a few competing organisations the standard would increase and the price would decrease.


I think the FA should invest money into facilities and also were applicable subsidise the cheaper hiring costs of expensive facilities for teams and parents. The Parklike project in principle is great however it will only benefit a minority of the country.

What’s the point of teaching coaches to coach to a higher standard if the facilities are to a worsening standard?  Better facilities are too expensive and in winter months due to the British climate games a are constantly called off. If the FA and local professional clubs help to upgrade facilities, ie better maintained pitches and an outdoor 3G, all weather pitch for all kids teams, training wouldn’t get affected, children can train and experience playing football in different conditions and it would help motivate coaches and teams maintaining higher standards.

I’m not a fan of moving mini soccer away from the winter as football in this country has always been played at this time of the year at all levels. I really believe we can improve facilities, and give every club access to an all weather pitch. These are only my opinions I would like to know what other people think ……



The problem with academies…..

Many thanks to Dan Yeo for this piece on football academies in England.

There’s no doubt that football academies are harsh environments. The FA’s official website even describes the process of getting released by one as ‘heart-breaking’, which, considering they’re trying to increase participation levels, is hardly encouraging…

It’s entirely truthful though and not particularly surprising; when the stakes are so high, the consequences of being rejected become even more considerable. The disappointment of being let go by a big-name Premier League club would be enough to crush any youngster so, when the huge financial influence is also factored in, the pressure can often become unbearable.


Children not even old enough to attend secondary school are exposed to a stressful, ruthless environment in which their every move is carefully monitored and analysed. Those judged to be progressing too slowly are filtered out of the system as early as possible, but the players really at risk are the ones that succeed in making the first few cuts.

The reason for this is simple and something the FA’s site also alludes to; young footballers tend to get carried away. Tell a ten-year-old he’s good and he’ll dream about being the next Messi. Tell a sixteen-year-old he’s good and he’ll think he really is the next Messi. The further teenagers progress down the path of becoming a professional footballer, the more they begin to prioritise the beautiful game over everything else in their lives. Football, for many, becomes an obsession and this is something that authorities need to guard against.


While it’s fantastic that the next generation are competitive and hungry to do well, the current clamour for more home-grown talent and the amount of money being spent on the best academy graduates means that, if anything, academies are encouraging rather than discouraging this kind of compulsive attitude. This has to change.

Spurring youth players on to succeed at all costs may benefit those who finally make the grade but, for the majority who don’t, it can very seriously damage their career prospects and later lives. The PFA estimates that, for every five players offered academy scholarships, only two will receive full-time contracts at the age of eighteen and only one will still be playing professionally by the time they’re twenty-one.


10 Top Tips for Winter training from the FA

Over the coming months, many coaches will brave winter conditions to deliver coaching sessions to young players. Here, FA regional coach development manager, Martin Dighton, provides ten top tips to help fully engage with players when working outdoors.

Read the One Two Mag HERE
Read the One Two Mag HERE

1) Young children are not mini-versions of adults

As much as they will be adults one day, the young players in your care are certainly not there yet. We must understand and recognise that we can’t treat them in the same way as we would our peers.  We must always have the well-being of each of the children in our care as the priority. The session must fully engage the young players no matter what the weather.

2) Get the players moving as soon as they arrive

In poor weather keeping the players busy is vital. Young children will go cold quickly – almost without noticing –  and once they are cold they will really struggle to warm up again. Telling them to run around a bit more won’t help either unfortunately – it’s too late by then.

An arrival activity is vital. The children should arrive warm and getting them active early is crucial.  Little games of tag, mini 1v1s or 2v2s, and small fundamental movement games will all do this. Make sure you have this section in your session plan ready to go whatever the weather.


3) No queues and keep all the players involved

Having queues of children waiting for their turn is a big no-no in any session let alone on a cold, wet day.  Can you find ways to make sure all the players are all involved all of the time?  If you are struggling for equipment could you set up two or three smaller areas rather than one in order to cut down any form of waiting?

4) Use games during training

Consider what the players expect football to look like. What’s the first question they ask:  ‘When are we playing a match?’  Wet and cold sessions are perfect for match time as it keeps them all involved and active. Play mini 3v3s on a couple of pitches to keep all involved and then carefully manage how you intervene to coach.

5) Work with individuals rather than stopping the whole group

Children don’t like coaches talking for ages at the best of times but on a wet day it’s even more important to keep communication concise. Can you coach individuals whilst the game plays on around them?  Could you give quick challenges to players ‘on the fly’ as they pass you?  Could you set yourself a challenge to intervene for no longer than 30 seconds?  The kids would really appreciate this.

6) Consider practice design and progression

Spend time on planning the session. Will you use a technique-skill-game format or whole-part-whole or a myriad of other templates?  Which will increase playing time the most and which may lead to times of relative inactivity?  How can you create excitement and therefore engagement?  Can you always have a scoring system in place? Can you ensure that if any defender wins the ball they have a way to attack and score too to keep games flowing?

How you progress the session needs to be thought about too.  Can you progress some players without stopping all of them at the same time?  Think about working the session with players in groups; perhaps advance the better players first before gradually progressing the weaker players later on, meaning that they’ll get the extra practice time they need.  This also means that as you talk to each group two-thirds of your team are still active and warm.

7) If in doubt: play matches

If you’re ever in doubt or get caught by the rain or bad weather half-way through a session revert back to several small matches.  Smaller sized matches promote ball contacts, in and out of possession play, transition and game craft. They also ensure that players are never more than one pass away from the ball, so engagement and activity levels stay high.


8) Have some rules about correct kit

It’s important to have some rules or conditions regarding kit. I’ve had children arriving in t-shirt and shorts to sessions in December and I’ve had to take the hard decision to turn them away. Parents sometimes feel that it’s okay because they’ll be running around at football – yes, but they will only be warm if they start warm in the first place. Perhaps having a club wet-weather policy would be a good idea?

We can take note from cricketers playing in early April or late September. They wear lots of thin layers rather than a couple of large ones to keep heat in.  Encourage your players to do the same. It’s nothing different to what my mum used to shout as I ran off to training:  “You can always take some off, if you get too hot”.

9) Safety and welfare are top priority, but each individual is different

We have a responsibility to the children and their parents to look after them and always to make decisions in their best interests.  Safety and welfare are the top priority but we also mustn’t shy away from playing just because the weather isn’t great.

In a grassroots setting I worked in previously we had a rule – if the kids turned up then we would play. It was the choice of the group and their parents if we played.  This meant that sometimes we played for just 30 minutes instead of the full hour, sometimes the session plan went out of the window and we just played little games and sometimes we led sessions with only three or four kids.

What we must always understand is that every child is different, some will love and thrive in the terrible weather whereas others will hate it. Either way, they are both likely to remember it for a life time.

We must make certain that our coaching fosters a love of the game and a love of playing it. Make sure that when you are next faced with bad weather you make decisions and plans based on the best interests of the little people that turn up each week to play the great game of football with you.

10) Find a way to use the weather to create memories

Some of my fondest experiences as a kid were playing outside in terrible weather.  I still remember my first game in snow and the excitement playing with an orange ball for the first time gave us, the sliding tackles that seemed to last a full 30 yards through the midfield mud-pit and the diving headers that gave such a splash landing that if you timed it well could soak the watching parents.

We must appreciate that we could be building memories for our players; let’s make sure they are positive ones where the kids can’t wait to play the next time it rains. Starting to implement all of the above is a good foundation to start from.

Courtesy of The FA.