Tag: the FA

The life of a Grassroots Coach…

Standing in work and all I can think of is, what can I arrange for the kids? how can I help them? what sessions can I do? … gets to my lunch break and I still have a million ideas running through my head. . Biting into my sarnie with phone in other hand searching the Internet for ideas and info. ..making the phone calls I need to make and sending the texts out between every bite. ..

Get in from work. . Quick cuppa ( if I’m lucky ) change from work clothes to footy clothes. . Swap bag to holdall and go out the door loading the car and away I go. . ( can’t wait to eventually get home and have tea)

Some weeks are straight forward, some weeks it’s like the kids have just indulged in a bag full of sugar before arriving and even though I’m doing everything I can to make it fun and constant… it still seems more fun for little johnny to grab onto Peter and dive about the floor (constantly), for Steven to do the opposite of everything I’ve asked and for James to want to have a full on conversation with me about his whole day. . Step by step. Minute by minute!!

From start to end I hear “are we playing a match now? “

Quick chat with parents, ideas getting put forward for things we need, things we can do. . Subs to be collected. ..etc. .

Eventually home, see my kids , grab my tea and bed.. ready for the next day. .

Unless it’s a Friday night then I can’t sleep. . Team for next day ?? have they all got  minutes, will they all remember shinnys? have I packed a spare? Eat, breathe, sleep Grassroots football. .!!

Amongst the million other issues and paperwork that you have to sort, parents and children to deal with, meetings etc..

Would I change it? No way !!

Amongst it all. . To see a child achieve something whether it’s as an individual or whether it’s as a team with a smile on their face is the reason why all of the above ( and more) makes it all worth while. .

I’m proud to be a Grassroots Volunteer !!

I’m proud to be a Grassroots Coach !!

The FAs guide to managing Grassroots football

So you’ve got the job. You’re the gaffer.

Whether you’re a budding Mourinho or a reluctant volunteer you’ve got the responsibility of managing the team.

You might have a detailed five-year strategy or just a few stinky bibs and some flat footballs but hopefully this resource will provide you with a few pointers in the art and science of running a grassroots (amateur Saturday or Sunday) team.

Download, share or print the guide – which features a foreword from FA technical director Dan Ashworth, and advice on tactics, training sessions, team administration and keeping players fit by clicking HERE

FA release results of largest ever Grassroots Survey


A record feedback figure has been collated by The FA in the latest Grassroots Football Survey.

Now in its second year, the survey took in the views of over 30,000 people, including players, coaches, referees, staff and volunteers, topping the total of number of respondents from last year in the process.

And The FA’s director of participation and development, Kelly Simmons, has thanked those who took the time to provide invaluable feedback.

Grassroots Football Survey 

  • Participants: 30,161
  • 14% – People involved in the grassroots game are negative towards their County FA
  • 27% – Coaches are positive about the opportunities they have to progress than they were a year ago
  • 24% – Adult female players feel supported by their County FA
  • 34% – Grassroots players aged 55+ currently play walking football

“We are very grateful to all the people who took time to complete the questionnaire,” said Simmons.

“It provides both The FA and CFAs with invaluable insight, helping shape and prioritise investment and services into the grassroots game.

“The FA invests £50m per annum into the grassroots game and the survey helps to shape FA priorities for all those with key roles in the grassroots game from coaches, referees, club and league officials and general volunteers who make football happen week in and week out.

“We can see how social media is playing its part in how people access and consume information about the game at this level, how people are utilising the smaller sided format rather than the traditional 11 v 11 game, and how people are incorporating other sports into their weekly football fix.”

The survey found that many in the grassroots community still aren’t fully utilising the services their County FA has to offer, with only half (49 per cent) aware that their County can offer advice and funding for facility development.

The availability of good quality Artificial Grass Pitches (AGP) is increasingly important to those in the grassroots game with 63 per cent of those involved in the grassroots game citing them as a priority, compared to 56 per cent last year; good news for those communities set to become the beneficiaries of Parklife schemes next year in Liverpool and west London respectively.

The increasing ascendance of the women’s game is reflected too. Adult female players feel better supported (24 per cent) than their male counterparts (14 per cent) and a greater proportion from the grassroots game would prefer to hear about both the men and women’s senior national teams combined (20 per cent) than just the men’s alone (12 per cent).

There is, however, still work to do in other areas of the diversity agenda; black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) participants are less likely to find their County either accessible (33 per cent) or inclusive than non-BAME participants (43 per cent). This is an area The FA is working hard to address.

“It is the responsibility of The FA both centrally and County FAs to ensure everyone, irrespective of race, gender, sexuality, faith and every other of the protected characteristics, has the same positive experience,” added Simmons.

“More than ever, we’re committed to the philosophy of For All and making sure everyone has the opportunity to be involved in the game at whatever level, and in whatever capacity, they wish to participate at.”

The Dangers of Copycat Coaching by FA talent technical coach Gavin Step

Gavin Step, FA talent technical coach, outlines the dangers of copycat coaching and offers examples of how to tailor coaching sessions to individual players.

Never before have football coaches had access to as many ‘off the shelf’ coaching sessions.  Through social media and the internet a huge volume of ideas exist to inform practice design.

The challenge with these sessions is how to deliver the content to meet the needs of individual players. With generic sessions it is unlikely that the whole group will benefit to the same level as if the session was individualised.

Does the girl attending her first football session have the same needs as the boy who has been playing for three years? Does the youth international full-back have the same needs as the centre midfielder returning from injury? For each player in the session it’s important to ask: what’s the point of it?

It goes without saying that the best coaches plan their sessions with learning objectives and outcomes at their core.  Additionally, I have seen some really thoughtful examples of coaches who plan individual learning objectives for every player in their squad.

However, I’ve often wondered what this looks like on the grass.  During a 60-90 minute session, is it realistic for a coach to facilitate and achieve the learning objectives for the session along with 16 individualised learning objectives? Even with the support of an assistant coach, this can prove challenging.

Yet, it is vital that we consider the specific requirements of our players when planning and delivering. Some good examples from clubs I work with include players being set individual targets at the start of a coaching block that remain for the duration of that period of work.

Targets are written, laminated and present at all coaching sessions. On the whole, it is the player’s responsibility to ensure they are working towards their individual target, session on session. The role of the coach is to design practices that allow the player to explore and develop their specific target. What they do not do is set a new target week after week, hoping to achieve these every new hour of work they have with their players.

When I work with players, I list both session objective and success criteria.  Along with what I plan on focusing on, I list criteria I think will help the players successfully achieve the session objective. These will be displayed on either a whiteboard or flipchart. For example:

Session Objective


Help the team progress and penetrate through the thirds

Success Criteria

1) You will make forward passes with quality through defensive lines
2) You will travel with control and composure through defensive lines
3) You will make positive runs ahead of the ball to support teammates

Session Objective


Display resilience when faced with a challenging situation in training

Success Criteria

1) You will use positive language to yourself and with others
2) You will display positive body language
3) You will encourage others when they find the ‘going gets tough’

Players are tasked to select one or more of the success criteria to focus on for the session.They commit to this by initialling and signing against it.

Sometimes I use subtle questioning to lead players towards an objective I feel they may benefit from focusing on.Sometimes I tell a player what I think they should work on.  Other times I say nothing at all.  This could be described as player-centred coaching within coach-determined parameters. To support the players’ learning, I list success criteria that helps guide the players towards the outcomes I hope they will achieve.  With time, players can generate their own criteria.  They suggest what they think they must do to successfully achieve the session objective.

The success criteria are the hooks that I return to within the session. Reminding the players of the session focus and specific elements they have committed to work on at the outset of the session.  This supports them to achieve what I have planned and intended for them to learn.  When I reflect on what is the point of my session, the players themselves drive the individual targets as to what they feel the point of the session has been for them.

In designing individual challenges, I propose a menu of choice and it is up to the player to select the focus of their work.

Gavin Step is an FA talent technical coach working in the women’s game.


Have fun, make friends, play football

The Football Association and SSE have teamed up to launch a new initiative in 2017, SSE Wildcats, designed to inspire girls aged between 5-11 to be involved in the sport.

SSE Wildcats Girls’ Football Clubs provide girls with regular opportunities to play football and take part in organised sessions in a fun and engaging environment created exclusively for girls. 200 clubs have been established across England throughout the spring and summer.*

The sessions take place on a weekly basis, either after school or at weekends, subject to the local organiser. They will provide a safe environment where girls with no football experience can; have fun engaging with sport, develop fundamental skills, try a variety of sessions, learn new things and create foundations for a lifelong love of sport.

Alongside the football for girls activities, there will also be opportunities for the attending parents, carers and siblings to engage with sport in ‘Family Sessions’, e.g. Soccercise/Walking football at the same time.

Each SSE Wildcats club will be run in conjunction with local County FAs and utilising qualified coaches and local facilities to offer girls a location nearby where they can get involved.

SSE Wildcats has been established in partnership with SSE, supporters of girls’ football participation and sponsor of the SSE Women’s FA Cup, with support from UEFA, FIFA and The Youth Sport Trust.



How to prevent scorelines of 13-0, 19-1 and 27-0 in youth football was the subject of a recent blog by Jack Walton, FA regional coach development manager.

In the article, Jack stresses the importance of creating competitive balance in youth football to ensure an enjoyable, equal and beneficial learning experience for all involved.
Here, we asked Jack for his 5 top tips for coaches to use to prevent mismatched fixtures.

Continue reading “WHO BENEFITS IF YOU WIN 13-0?”


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.


80 Leagues meet at the National Youth League conference.

Delegates from youth leagues all over the country will unite at St. George’s Park this weekend to explore how best to develop player-centred environments to create prime football experiences.

Continue reading “80 Leagues meet at the National Youth League conference.”


It’s difficult now in 2016 to remember a time when there was no Premier league, kids of today will assume it has always been this way, I can assure you that I for one am unfortunately old enough to remember when the whole league system was united and money was shared.

So we look back now and consider…

Has the Premier league failed to live up to its founding principles??

Good question, let’s go back to 1992 when the elite clubs fought to  have a breakaway league, they said;



Is the FA preparing to take the first step towards equipping grassroots referees with body cameras in an attempt to combat abuse towards game officials.

With Referees leaving the game in substantial numbers and those remaining complaining of regular verbal and physical abuse.


Sports minister warns government may legislate to reform the FA

Grassroots have stated for many years now that the FA is not representative enough when it comes to Grassroots Football, the warning signs have been there for many years.

Since the formation of the Premier League, grassroots football has felt more and more isolated, and the gulf between the professional game and grassroots game seems at an all time high.

Sports Minister Tracey Crouch

Tracey Crouch, the sports minister has now stated that  the government are considering passing a law to force the Football Association to reform if it has not reorganised its council and board by April.

Previous high profile former FA chairman and Prince William have all recently spoken out about the need for the FA to reform and be more representative of the game and the people it represents.

The FA is on notice that it will lose £30m public funding for grassroots football via Sport England and not receive support for any future World Cup bid if a reformed board and council are not delivered, Crouch told the select committee.

See the full list of FA council members HERE


The FA Peoples Cup is BACK….Enter HERE for FREE

It’s just a kickabout. Said no one, ever.

The FA People’s Cup returns for a third year – bigger and better than ever before. Run in partnership with BBC Get Inspired, The FA People’s Cup is the biggest amateur 5 a-side competition in the country.

It’s FREE TO ENTER and welcomes male, female and disability players across 16 categories – ranging from U14s, through to veterans (over-35s).

Register your team today to guarantee your home ground and team name. Absolutely Fabregas FC won’t stay around for too long!

The cup run starts on Friday 24 February through to Sunday 26 February 2017 – so make sure you’ve got your name on the teamsheet.

Enter your team HERE