Tag: #Teamgrassroots


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.


BREAKING NEWS!!!! FA state England WILL wear poppy despite FIFA ban

The FA have released a statement saying that the England players will wear black armbands bearing poppies during their World Cup qualifier against Scotland on Armistice Day.


This is despite FIFA saying they would proceed to punish or sanction the FA/SFA if they decide to go with the poppies on the armbands or shirt.

FA statement in full

We fully respect the laws of the game and take our founding role on the International Football Association Board extremely seriously. The poppy is an important symbol of remembrance and we do not believe it represents a political, religious or commercial message, nor does it relate to any one historical event.

In keeping with the position agreed with FIFA back in 2011 and in what we believe is in accordance with law 4, para 4, the FA intend to pay appropriate tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice by having the England team wear black armbands bearing poppies in our fixture on Armistice Day.

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Cancer suffering Nana seeks solace in football watching Grandson Ben @ Aston Swallownest JFC

A Sheffield woman with terminal cancer who continues to attend her grandson’s football games while she battles against the destructive disease has been hailed as a Parent in Sport hero.

Pamela Mellars, 71, was diagnosed with skin cancer in 2012 and doctors told her that the disease was incurable. In the face of her illness, she has continued to cheer on her grandson, Ben, at his football matches for Aston Swallownest.

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

Angela Sharp, Pamela’s daughter, has nominated her mum as part of Parent in Sport Week for the support she gives to Ben, aged 13, as he develops his football skills.

Angela said: “I’ve nominated my mum as part of Parent in Sport Week because she’s always shown an interest in Ben’s footballing ever since he started playing eight years ago. She’s so enthusiastic about the sport and at his games.

“Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with terminal skin cancer in 2012 which came as a huge blow to the entire family. Since finding out about her illness, my mum has been knocked back time and time again as the disease develops.

“She’s had a number of operations to try and fix the skin cancer as it was incredibly aggressive. She’s had to have her eye and parts of her skull removed to get rid of the cancer.


“Last year she was also diagnosed with lung cancer which resulted in the removal of a quarter of her lung. This has had a massive effect on her breathing and she gets worn out easily.

“On top of all of this, my dad Michael passed away in February of this year. He had primary-progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) and my mum was his main carer for a number of years. Unfortunately, when she became ill she struggled to keep this up.”

Four years on from her first diagnosis, Pamela is still attending her grandson Ben’s football games whenever she can.  Ben has played for Aston Swallownest since he was four-years-old and is currently part of the Under 14s team.

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“In spite of all that life’s thrown at her, my mum has still continued to show her support for Ben by cheering him on at his matches.

“My mum grew up with football, it’s her background. Her brother, Andy Burgin, even played for Sheffield Wednesday so it’s in her blood.

“She is so focused on the sport, it’s all she ever watches. She and Ben are constantly chatting about the latest matches.  She is the person my son talks to about football, she advises him, guides him and loves him very much.

“To look at her, you’d think she was this frail, little old lady – 71 years old, weighing six-and-a-half stone – but she’s the toughest person I know. Everyone thinks she’s amazing and she really is so strong.

“Mum still goes to the hospital quite regularly these days but she’s coping. She’s getting better every day and we think she is finally cancer free – fingers crossed!

“I am incredibly proud of my mum for how she’s dealt with everything over the past few years, especially for how supportive she is of Ben.

“I want her to know how much it means to me and Ben that she continues to come to his football matches and show such enthusiasm about this sport that they both love.

“She is one tough cookie.”


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.

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.

A final message before this coach walks away from the game.

As I write this, I know maybe it’s my last diary entry, hopefully my feelings will Change but right now maybe my last before I walk away from something I’ve done for 3-4 years now.

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I’m a Coach who has just had enough of too many parents doing everything but being happy there kid loves football and loves coming and seem to complain, whinge and moan about everything, even criticise other people’s kids, cause trouble and tell lies about other parents and situations. Why do this?

Most coaches work full time, have families, other responsibilities, yet myself like others give up at least 2 nights a week to coach your kids, plus more time away from that planning sessions, sorting fund raisers, chasing kits, sorting tournaments, answering emails, arranging weekend game, replying to text messages 11pm at night, Plus much more and we do this for FREE cause we enjoy it and love seeing kids develop and grow.

YOUR kid develop and grow!!!!!

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So why do parents find the need to send you messages a mile long slamming the performance of a young team in mini soccer despite the fact you win most weeks, these texts happen when you do actually win too.

Why when you are not happy about the littlest thing do you find it necessary to spread that with other parents and convince them your right and encourage them to hound the coach too?

Sadly I can’t give you examples of the situations I am talking about here, but the point I am making is how many coaches have to walk away mainly due to how parents behave and conduct themselves and how they go on sometimes.

Where have all the parents gone who just turn up watch there kid play and as long as they enjoy it everything is good. These days it’s like the parents want to coach, watch and run the club and the coach is there employee…..

It’s simple….. no coaches means no grassroots stop before it’s too late!!!!!!!!

While Grassroots dies of poverty, the pro game gorges on greed. 

The headline says it all.

What has happened to our game?

We see grassroots teams collapsing and facilities in a complete state of disrepair in the Grassroots world (the real world)

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Then at the other end of the game (fantasy land) we hear of wide scale corruption and greed at the very top of the game.

What has happened to our great game. It seems to be the more they have the more they want.

Football was and should be the people’s game, where pro clubs were built on communities and had the communities at the heart of everything they did. Scouts would scour the local area and find the best the area had to offer.

The distance between the Grassroots game and Pro-Game was within reach, touchable, these were people just like us that lived for and loved our game.

Everyone will have an opinion on how we’ve got to where we are now. But what football really needs right now is a re-balance.

The game needs to be more balanced, financially balanced and funds need to flow from the top down empowering grassroots teams to flourish,using funds to improve facilities. In addition pro clubs need to re-engage with the grassroots community and be seen to work with grassroots clubs.

Pro clubs have state of the art training facilities dormant on a weekend when grassroots teams are desperate for quality pitches, how bold a step would it be for a club to come forward and offer the venue to a local league, therefore reducing prices!! The facilities are already there.

There is so much that can be done to Re-balance the game, what thoughts do you have. One thing is for sure, we can’t stand by and watch grassroots die of poverty whilst the elite gorge themselves on greed.

Heres some ideas we would put forward

You have seen ideas that we would put forward, we would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.

Quote from a parent “Where’s all the money gone”

I sent a text out midweek about planning a  Christmas party for the team and their  brothers/sisters, nothing fancy just a small function, maybe a Dj, small buffet,  maybe medals and a trophy each to celebrate Christmas etc



This was for my u7s team, I have 6 players with subs of £2 per week total of £48-£60 per month income from subs.

Anyway, I sent a text saying the party would cost approximately £250 which equates to about £40 per child.




I suggested a range of quick ways to raise funds on the text, bonus ball, raffle, or sell tickets for the party to the friends and families.


I received NO response at all, Sunday’s game came and after the game I spoke to everyone to see what there thoughts were. Clearly 2 of the parents had discussed this all week and said the most insulting words possible to me with an air of suspicion


“Where’s all the money gone?”


Had I been in a different setting my reaction may have been different, I informed these parents that there £2 per week believe it or not wasn’t enough to cover strips/league fees/training fees/medals/trophies/ref fees etc.


I am SOOOO angry that I was made to feel that I had done something with the money, the truth is it actually costs me money!!!!


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Diary entry 21/11/15″Very proud coach”

Coaches diary – Today i enjoyed the greatest experience of my coaching journey to date!!Having chosen the team to start todays game while enjoying my morning coffee i knew the lad I’d chosen to play up front would not be happy about starting in that position (he has confidence issues and is not a big fan of running with the ball), and i was right he was not impressed!! 

I pulled him to one side before the game and had a one to one chat with him, basically telling him i knew he was capable of going out there getting the ball under control and scoring, and that he needed to believe in himself!! 
End result – two goals, MoM and one very happy young lad (and coach).

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