Tag: the FA


The FA Disability Cup returns this summer with England’s top grassroots disability teams competing at the national football centre, St. George’s Park, on Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 June. 

The competition, which is now in its third year, is the largest of its kind in this country, with six cup finals scheduled to take place in partnership with a range of impairment-specific organisations:

  • Amputee (England Amputee Football Association)
  • Blind (The National Blind Football League)
  • Cerebral palsy (Cerebral Palsy Sport)
  • Deaf (English Schools’ Football Association)
  • Partially sighted (National Partially Sighted Football League)
  • Powerchair (Wheelchair Football Association)

As well as the introduction of a partially sighted category, this year’s event will also play host to an exhibition of frame football, which is a new format of the game currently being developed in conjunction with Cerebral Palsy Sport for people who use a frame or walker.

Phil Heap, National Participation Manager, said: “The FA Disability Cup is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate and recognise the achievements of players, coaches, officials, volunteers, fans and partner organisations involved across the grassroots disability game.

“I am delighted we will be returning to St. George’s Park for the third year in a row as it provides the perfect platform to raise awareness of the opportunities that exist within grassroots disability football For All. I would like to wish everyone taking part the very best of luck.”

CPD Events for Coaches in England

Below is a full list of CPD events across the England. Click on the event topic to be taken through to the relevant booking page.

FA conference events

Dates Time Topic Location

17 Feb 2018

All day Futsal Conference 2018 St. George’s Park

15 April 2018

All day Goalkeeping Conference 2018 St. George’s Park

CPD webinars for all coaches

Dates Topic Location
12 Feb 2018 Webinar: psychological development – youth phase Online



26 Feb 2018

Webinar: psychological development – professional development Online

12 Mar 2018

Webinar: psychological block – goalkeeping Online

26 Mar 2018

Webinar: modern trends Online

16 Apr 2018

Webinar: goalkeeping Online

28 May 2018

Webinar: systems of play, playing in the half and half positions Online

30 Jul 2018

Webinar: developing observational Online

CPD events for Level 3 & 4 coaches

Dates Topic Location

11 & 12 Feb 2018

FA In and Out of Possession: Developing Midfielders SGS College, Bristol

21 Mar 2018

Paul McGuinness: Intimidation by skill Southampton Solent University

21 & 22 Mar 2018

FA In and Out of Possession: Developing Midfielders Macclesfield RUFC

1 Apr 2018

Craig Hinton: TBC Oxford City FC

8 Apr 2018

Paul McGuinness: Intimidation by skill Rugby Town Juniors FC

15 & 16 Apr 2018

FA In and Out of Possession: Developing Midfielders St Neots Town FC

29 Apr 2018

Craig Hinton: TBC Durham County FA

5 & 6 May 2018

FA In and Out of Possession: Developing Forwards Brooksby Melton College

7 May 2018

Paul McGuinness: Intimidation by skill Cheshire FA

12 & 13 May 2018

FA In and Out of Possession: Developing Forwards Barking FC

20 & 21 May 2018

FA In and Out of Possession: Developing Forwards Brighton & Hove Albion Training Ground

County FAs also host CPD events which you can find out more about by contacting them directly.

Alternatively, if you are looking to access some great coaching insight, guidance, tips and features, why not check out The Boot Room – The FA’s official coaching magazine. This popular resource is published monthly and features articles by coaches from The FA, grassroots football and professional club academies. While it may not contribute directly to your CPD hours, it certainly makes for an interesting, educational and enjoyable read.

Another great resource is The FA Coaching Community powered by Hive – our new coaching social media and community platform. Free to join, it brings thousands of coaches from across the game and the country together to enjoy great coaching content and engage in discussion. Registering takes a matter of minutes and once you’re in you’ll have access to even more coaching insight articles, interviews and top tips. To sign up, visit www.hivelearning.com/thefa.

The FA also have a range of free online CPD courses available.

Sign up for our FREE Newsletter HERE


Setting challenges for games and training is a great way for coaches to motivate individual players and teams.

Here are our 10 top- tips for using individual player and team challenges in your work:

1) Get to know your players

 How well do you know the players in your group? Do you know who can use their weaker foot? Who is accurate with their short passing, but not with their long passing? Player challenges are most effective when they are designed for individuals, so it is really important to get to know your players better.  Start by identifying strengths and areas for improvement.

2) Stand back and watch

The best way to get to know your players is through observation. Set yourself a challenge to do more watching than talking in your next session or game. By taking a step back it is amazing what different things you will identify when watching the players. Take notes whilst you are watching as this can be the start of creating effective individual challenges.

3) Continue to improve strengths

It is tempting to link all the player challenges to improving weaknesses. Although there are certain fundamentals of the game that all players need to develop, it is also really important to identify what is unique about a player and help them get even better at that part of their game. For example, if you have an excellent dribbler, challenge them to get even better at dribbling.

4) Variety in design

Challenges don’t always have to link to the technical and tactical side of the game. For example: you may have a player who is quiet both on and off the pitch and doesn’t mix with the rest of the group. You may give the player a communication or leadership challenge to boost their confidence. Linked with this you may challenge another player in the squad, somebody with good teamworking skills, to try and integrate the player into the group more.

5) Sessions which challenge the players

Once you have an idea of your player or team challenges, think about how you can design a practice session that allows the players to work on their own individual challenge in a group setting. This is no easy task, but it can be achieved through clever planning.  Game-like activity is the best way to approach the task, with clever use of player positions, pitch sizes and formations.

6) Time and patience

It is important to give players the time to work at their challenge. For example, a player might work at the same challenge for a six-week block, or even longer.  If you change the challenge too often, the player may not have the opportunities to solve the problems that the challenge poses.

7) Matchday challenges

When you are working with younger players, it is crucial that your training sessions link to matchday. Ask the players to continue to work on their challenges during a game and continue to support them.  Don’t let the scoreline detract from what you are trying to achieve with your individual players.


Enter the Biggest youth tournament in the UK HERE

8) Different positions

Experimenting with player positions is a great way to provide different challenges. Think carefully about the challenges different positions afford and then link the position with the individual you are working with. For example: if you want to help a player with their receiving skills and awareness, you may play them in central midfield where there will be a lot of pressure when receiving. Similarly, you play them as a central defender and encourage the goalkeeper to play short to start attacking moves.

9) Different age-groups

Similar to experimenting with different playing positions, playing players in different age-groups can provide great challenges. For example: a player who needs to develop their physical qualities or understanding of when to take lots of touches and when to play quickly, may benefit from playing in an older age group where the time and space will be challenged. What other challenges do different age-groups offer?

10) Ask the players for their input

Lastly, don’t forget to ask the players what they think they need to improve or what they would like to work on during training and games.

Article courtesy of The FA Bootroom


The FA Goalkeeping Conference 2018 – Book HERE

On Sunday 15 April 2018, St. George’s Park will once again play host to one of The FA’s most popular national coaching events – The FA Goalkeeper Conference.

The event has been designed to provide you with a platform to discuss and understand more about the modern goalkeeper, with a specific focus on the ‘Four Corners’ of goalkeeping development which links directly to the fundamentals of the England DNA .

We’ll be hearing from some of the biggest names from the world of goalkeeping including Richard Hartis, former Leeds United and current England goalkeeping coach, Eric Steele, former Manchester United goalkeeping coach and England national coach Jack Robinson.

The full programme is currently being finalised and will be released in the coming weeks.

For further information and to book your place click the link below.


Breaking!!! FA Announce new plans for 2018

A series of new initiatives and investments to impact the whole of English football, please see FA announcement below;

We have today announced a series of new initiatives and investments which will have a significant impact, both on the FA itself, and for all of English football.
The announcements include a range of measures aimed at improving the culture of the organisation and considerable new investment into every level of the game. These include:-
Quality pitches and changing facilities remain our biggest challenge in the grassroots game. This money will allow us to accelerate our efforts to deliver more and better football facilities for the grassroots game. In partnership with Sport England and the Premier League, this increased investment will support a range of new and existing facility programmes to meet the needs across grassroots clubs, County FAs, local authorities and education sites.
One such new initiative includes a mini-pitch programme which will be piloted in 2018, and if successful it will be rolled out across primary schools and grassroots clubs up and down the country.
Such new initiatives will complement existing programmes such as the Parklife community hub scheme which has been successfully rolled out in Sheffield, with further hubs to follow in Liverpool, London and a further 15 other cities and towns in England. The £9m is in addition to the £20m a year already invested by us into football facilities, all delivered through the Football Foundation and will, alongside the investment of our partners, help to ensure that by 2024 over 80 per cent of all football will be played on quality football pitches.
There are 64,000 mini-soccer and youth football teams. The youth game is thriving, witnessing a seven per cent year-on-year increase in team numbers. We want the first experience of football for all those children to be the best it can be. In order that they can enjoy and learn their football in a safe and fun environment, and also improve the standard of football being played, we are investing to ensure every one of those teams has a Level One qualified coach. We will make funds available to clubs to get their volunteers onto the coaching pathway and improve the standards of their mini-soccer and youth offering.
The largest community clubs are the most sustainable and deliver the most development outcomes in terms of the number and diversity of the teams they run. For the first time, we will invest directly in 150 of the biggest clubs to support this vital community development work.

Clubs will be invited to put themselves forward to enter the programme, which will offer a range of support from business capacity building and direct facility investment. Each club hub will be supported to recruit/retain a UEFA B coach to not only work across its own teams but act as a coach mentor across grassroots clubs in its region. The UEFA B Licence is a coaching licence one level below the UEFA A Licence. As of November 2017, there are currently 11,095 UEFA B coaches in England.

We will increase our investment in the women’s game. Over the next six seasons, an additional £50m will be invested into women and girl’s football taking the total investment from the 2018-19 season onwards to £114m.

We believe that no-one in the world is matching this level of investment. It will go into every level of the women’s and girl’s game from school programmes and SSE Wildcats centres, the initiative to encourage girls aged 5-11 to play football, through to investment into the Women’s Super League clubs and development of regional high performance centres to feed the talent pathway to the Lionesses.

The announcement also includes a range of substantial new strategic investments in the game which will be made from the 2018-19 season.

This will total around £180m per year going directly back into football, which is up from £123m in the previous year, representing a 46 per cent increase.

We are a not-for-profit organisation that is now able to make this new investment due to increased revenue from the sale of the Emirates FA Cup and England broadcast deals, a new long-term partnership with Nike and the consequence of the corporate re-structure in 2015 which has enabled The FA to operate more efficiently.

The FA;

The new investments include:-

• More than double the Emirates FA Cup prize fund from the 2018-19 season. This will benefit all participating clubs at every stage of the competition.

• Pay off the Wembley National Stadium debt. This will be done by the end of 2024, ensuring we can remove the burden of debt repayment from then on. At present repayment rates, this means £2-3m saved every year after 2024 and invested back into the game.

• Significantly increasing our investment into grassroots facilities by £9m per year. This money will support a range of new and existing facility programmes to meet the needs across grassroots clubs, County FAs, local authorities and education sites, including a new mini-pitch programme in primary schools and grassroots clubs up and down the country.

• Increasing our investment in grassroots participation activities by nearly £6m per year.

• Investing directly into the 20,000 grassroots affiliated clubs to ensure that each of the 64,000 mini-soccer and youth teams has a minimum of a Level One coach, to provide our youngest players with the quality coaching they deserve.

• The establishment of a new Community Club Hub network. Over 150 large-scale clubs across England will receive direct investment and resource support to deliver development outcomes. Each Hub will also have a subsidised UEFA B Coach mentor to work across their club and wider community.

• A new volunteer strategy to invest directly in succession planning and training across the leagues and clubs network. This will include a reward and recognition element.

• Establishment of a recreational growth fund to support recreational football including small sided, Futsal and walking football.

• Sustain and enhance the disability growth fund to support growth in disability football.

• Increasing our investment in the women and girl’s game by an additional £50m over six years to ensure the sustainability of successful initiatives such as the SSE Wildcats programme, which will see 3,200 new Wildcats centres by 2020, and also ensuring the Women’s Super League gets the support it requires as it grows. This is all part of our commitment to double participation in women’s football and to ensure consistent success on the world stage.

Martin Glenn, FA chief executive officer, said: “The initiatives and investments announced today will make a significant impact to the way football is run in this country.

“They illustrate both how committed The FA is to becoming a more inclusive and diverse organisation, and how much it contributes to English football.

“The FA will now invest over £180m a year back into the game, more than we have ever done before, which will have a positive and meaningful impact at every level of football in England.”


Grassroots teams from across England can now sign up for FREE to enter the FA People’s Cup for 2018.

The People’s Cup, which is the largest small-sided football competition in the country, is made up of 18 different categories and offers a chance of glory for all.

The FA People’s Cup

Entry: Free

Application deadline: Sunday 18 February
First Round (Regional): 23 – 25 February
Semi-Finals (Regional): 24- 25 March
Finals (National): 28 – 29 April

With two rounds to progress through before the Finals are held at St. George’s Park in April, and a chance to be at Wembley for the Emirates FA Cup Final in May, could YOUR People’s Cup dreams come true this season?

But with the first round regional stages taking place across the country between Friday 23 and Sunday 25 February, teams need to make sure they are registered as soon as possible with the closing date for applications being Sunday 18 February.

It’s a simple process to register your team too. Simply search for your nearest FA People’s Cup event below and then take it from there to enter! After the first round, teams who progress will head into the semi-finals across the weekend of Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 March 2018.

And the titles will be dished out at St. George’s Park during the grand Finals on Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 April 2018.

The 18 categories for the 2018 FA People’s Cup are as follows, so find your relevant group and join from there:-

• U14 male
• U14 female
• U16 male
• U16 female
• Youth disability mixed
• Adult male (16+)
• Adult female (16+)
• Adult male disability (16+)
• Adult female disability (16+)
• University Male
• University Female
• Male veterans (35+)
• Female veteran (35+)
• Walking football (50+)
• College Male (Futsal)
• College Female (Futsal)

So, get yourself and your team signed up now. Who knows? It could be your year…

Find your nearest event HERE

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.”


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.


This article looks at using a more games-based approach for players aged 5-11 in the Foundation Phase and the potential benefits of this way of working.

For many young children, playing in games of football is the driving force behind their early engagement with the sport and their motivation, enthusiasm and focus remain high when taking part in these games. To clarify, games can be small-number games in training (such as 1v1, 2v2, 3v3) as well as any suitable competitive small-sided game format as part of a league, festival or tournament.

The Foundation Phase 'experience'

Small sided games are valuable for the development of foundation phase players

The players need this exposure to help their development. The part that we play as adults and coaches is to help manage the ups and downs, the successes and disappointments and the development opportunities that these encounters will provide. We must create an environment that is safe and supportive whilst being competitive and player centred. If we can provide this then there is an increased chance of players staying with the sport and as such giving us, the coaches, a chance to develop them even further

The Approach

If you have the opportunity to take your team indoors to play Futsal in the coming months you will have the perfect opportunity to help players begin to understand the game. Try to place your players in a wide range of different situations. Help them to recognise the situation they are in and then work together to arrive at the most effective solution or outcome. This will take time as these solutions will have to be tried and tested over a long period of time and through a large number of similar repetitions.

For example, in a game of Futsal the player will be challenged to process: where they are on court, how much space they have to play in, how much support (if any) is around, where the pressure might be coming from and how many defenders might be present (this is not exhaustive but gives an idea of all the visual and perceptual processing that might be going on).

The Foundation Phase 'experience'

Futsal is the perfect activity for the winter months

When the game is going on this will happen in a very short space of time and will require a huge amount of practice to refine the processing of so much information. That is why this approach is a long term one involving lots of repetition of similar but not identical situations and through a coaching methodology that helps and supports the player to make sense of all the information coming in. The role of the coach will be to help the player understand their own capabilities and to support them as they experiment and explore how these capabilities can provide effective solutions to the many situations they will encounter in the game. This approach will also help the player and the coach identify areas that need to be developed in order to be more effective in what they do.

Pete Sturgess is FA Technical Lead for players aged 5-11.

About Pete

Name: Pete Sturgess
Role: FA Technical Lead for players aged 5-11
Follow: @Sturge_p


Creative ways to use the popular football video game to connect with young players.

This Christmas many of the players we coach will enjoy playing the newly released FIFA  video game.

Parents will battle with their children, bargaining and arguing about how long they can play for, and at what time of day.

Although some may be sceptical about too many hours in front of a screen, the careful design of video games also provides high potential for learning.

Playing video games tends to be so enjoyable that people view video games as a form of entertainment rather than education – but there are many hidden benefits.

Video games have the ability to place people into the state of ‘Flow’ – a psychological state that boosts learning and performance.

This ‘Flow Zone’ is characterised as a state in which someone is completely immersed in the activity, and thoroughly enjoying the process of the activity (intrinsically motivated).

As a concept, it was first shared by Hungarian psychologist, Mihály Csikszentmihályi, in the 1970’s, who found that the feeling of flow is dependent on three conditions:

  • The activity has a clear set of goals
  • Clear and immediate feedback provided
  • Person must have confidence in their own ability to meet goals of the activity

These conditions are common of video game design. And as grassroots football coaches, there is an opportunity here for us to harness our players’ engagement with FIFA to help them to learn more about the game of football.

Digital Coaches

To do that, the following may be helpful when attempting to link learning from FIFA  to your team’s training sessions or matches:

  • Set tactical challenges – use learning focus of the training session to devise specific challenges for players to focus on when playing FIFA.

For example, if the learning focus of training is ‘positive and enthusiastic defending’, the FIFA  challenge could be to ‘try and prevent Messi from dribbling’.

To support the player during their FIFA  challenge, request that players jot down their progress in the challenge as it happens. An advantage of football video games, compared to physical football is that players have a PAUSE button – they can use this to their advantage in order to spend time explicitly reflecting on their learning.

  • Multi-player (with team mates) – organise your team into two smaller sub teams, so they work collaboratively to outwit their opponent in a FIFA  game.

Ask each sub team to develop an ‘in possession’ and ‘out of possession’ strategy, which they can present at training, prior to their FIFA  game.

At the next training session, each sub team can then present how their strategy developed or changed during game play, and why.

  • Select a particular FIFA character – for the next training session, challenge players to extend their commitment to the character, on to the pitch.

A player might choose to be John Stones on FIFA, so at training encourage the player to play like John Stones. This will encourage them to reflect on and explore Stones’ technical, tactical, psychological, social and physical attributes.

  • Arrival activity – reenact memorable moments from previous week’s experiences of playing FIFA.

Set up a space on the pitch for players to share their experiences of playing FIFA.

This might involve some players working in small groups or pairs to demonstrate specific plays, some players working individually to practice particular skills, or some players simply talking to one another about new problems or solutions from FIFA .

Amy Price is Lecturer in Physical and Sport Education at St Mary’s University in London. Amy holds the UEFA A Licence and is an FA Coach Mentor and Level 1 and 2 Tutor.


A matchday is a significant learning opportunity for players and should be treated as such. Coaches should focus upon helping each player to maximise this opportunity and embrace the matchday experience. A good start point for coaches is to be clear about what players will try to learn on matchday. Too often coaches try and fix everything which can lead to a lack of focus and confusion for players.

Matchday learning focus

When planning for matchday consider the following:

1. What is success?

2. Consistency with training objectives/focus

What is success?

What success means and looks like generally differs for player to player. Coaches should develop an appreciation each player’s perspective enhancing their understanding of the individual and their motivation.

The coach’s role is to help players and both training and matchday should be about the players not the coach. Consequently, the coach alone should not decide the success of a matchday and nor should the outcome of the match.

Consistency with the training focus

Continuation of the training theme on matchday allows players to demonstrate and extend their learning. This also helps the coach to be specific in their observation and with their feedback. Resultantly, the messages communicated to players have a purpose and support learning.

Team selection top tips

1. Equal opportunities to learn

A coach has a duty of care to ensure that each player is given equal opportunity to learn. Give each player the same amount of time on the field with challenges relevant to the needs of the individual.

2. Select teams on rotation

Ensure all players are given opportunity to start matches. If a player doesn’t start one week, ensure they start next week.

3. Encourage and provide opportunities for all players to experience different positions.

Rarely will a young player play in one position throughout their footballing experience. Being exposed to different positions presents players with a variety of pictures of the game, helping them to learn a variety of roles and responsibilities and enabling them to make the link between different positions.

4. Don’t rotate positions too frequently

Be careful not to rotate positions too frequently as this can hinder motivation, confidence and learning, particularly as players get older. Consider the player who finally gets an opportunity to play as the striker but doesn’t see much of the ball because the opposition are stronger and dominate the game.

Three games in any given position presents opportunities for a player to familiarise themselves with the role as well as face different opponents and challenges allowing learning to take place.

5. Player Ownership

Allow the players to pick the team. Young players select teams, players and formations on computer games such as Football Manager and FIFA and are adept at doing so. Allowing them to select the matchday team engages players in peer learning, a powerful form of cooperative learning.

To maximise the learning opportunity affinity groups of 4-6 players are recommended. This encourages all players to share their views and reduces the dominance of individual players.

Team and induvidual challenges

Magic 3

It is crucial not to overload players with information that they won’t remember. Three simple bits of information is ample. One way of structuring challenges is to set a challenge for the team, one for each unit (defence/midfield/attack), and one for each individual.

This format encourages teamwork whilst allowing for individual achievement. Challenges can be set in a number of ways.

1. Coach sets challenges for players
2. Players set the challenges
3. Player challenge cards

Challenges set by the coach allow alignment with the training objectives and ensure challenges are pitched appropriately. Coaches should reflect on recent training sessions and ask:

What was he/she good at?

What does he/she need more help with or practice at doing?

The challenges should emerge from your answers. Importantly, the challenges should be alternated to ensure the player has a chance to showcase what they are good at as well as what they need more practice at.

Allowing players to set their own challenges can lead to increased buy-in. However, be sure to ask why they’ve set the challenge and what success will look like? When players can articulate the meaning of the challenge it shows an understanding of the game and an awareness of where they are at in their learning.

Role models

Young players love emulating their football idols do, so why not base challenges on what their idols do?

1. Players pick a challenge card with a footballer on the front [see right], for and the challenge on the reverse becomes their individual challenge throughout the match:


The language used when setting individual challenges should focus on things under the player’s control. When attempting a challenge there are many variables that determine success. Setting a challenge such as score 3 goals or 5 tackles are not within a player’s control and should be avoided.

About Ceri

Role: Lecturer in Sports Development and Coaching

Follow: @CeriBowley

FA Girls’ Football Week 6th-12th November

FA Girls’ Football Week is your opportunity to engage as many women and girls as possible in football.  During FA Girls’ Football Week the whole country will gear up to encourage football activities for girls, which can include playing, training or even learning more about the beautiful game.

FA Girls’ Football Week is taking place on the 6th-12th November.

Organisations can register their ongoing activities as part of the week, or maybe even start something new to kickstart girls’ football.  It’s a great chance to recruit new players and volunteers.  Take a look at this fantastic guide to help you decide what activities to run during the week.

“Any girl can be involved regardless of experience or knowledge of the game. We need everyone to spread the word to get more girls than ever playing football and having fun!”

Register any activities you have planned for the week now and you will receive access to a range of resources designed to help you host events in a safe and enjoyable environment.

Click here to register your activities.

Don’t forget to share all of the great stuff you do during Girls’ Football Week by using the hashtag #GirlsFootballWeek on Twitter.