BBC Home

Explore the BBC


user rating: 4 star

Would summer suit junior football?

comment on the article

Despite many people bemoaning the lack of quality coaching in England as a reason for the country's recent failings at the World Cup, Sam Allardyce doesn't agree.

The Blackburn boss thinks many of the problems facing English football development can be solved by moving the junior season to summer.

That way coaches can spend more time teaching the right things to kids on a good playing surface without fear of them freezing to death.

It might sound simplistic, but with kids sport more and more organised these days, there is less scope for young footballers to spend the hours they need to hone their techniques.

Speaking at the FA launch of the Future Game philosophy last Thursday, Allardyce's proposal was one of the more radical but it was met with approval by a vast majority of the 600 coaches who attended the event at Wembley.

He may be criticised for the way in which his teams play - although there is always more than one way to win a football match - but his idea also had support from Eric Harrison who coached the likes of David Beckham, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes when they were youngsters at Manchester United.

The problem is that if this sort of thing is to work it would need massive planning and could take years to implement. Revolutionising junior football like this would probably be a logistical nightmare. It might also impact on other sports like cricket or tennis.

But what is the important point here? Will the FA's new coaching philosophy be enough to transform our coaching methods and put us more in touch with European countries who have many more Uefa qualified coaches?

The FA is doing a lot of work to redress the balance, not least through its FA skills programme and age-appropriate courses, but could summer football up until the age of 16 be the answer?

Latest 10 comments

Read members' comments or add your own
comment by James (U13916494)

posted Dec 16, 2010

I actually can't agree highly enough with Big Sam on this. I was a football coach for a few seasons. I took my FA qualifications and started teaching football to 7 and 8 year olds. Unfortunately, commitments to work have seen me cease this activity. The biggest battle of teaching football was to keep the interest up in the winter time. As the days grew colder and the nights get longer, keeping the kids interest was at best a struggle. Kids turning up on a sunday morning playing football in driving rain and freezing temperatures actually convinced a few to give up playing the sport.

Another factor is that thanks to the weather, the teams would sometimes go 3/4 weeks without a game due to the bad weather. This would lead to a backlog of games in march time as we would have a deadline to complete all the fixtures. This sometimes lead to the kids playing 3 games in a week, which is a big demand for them.

Also, the winter time also restricts us to play in indoor sports halls. Whereas they are practical and the kids do get to learn a lot of the game in there, by switching youth games to the summer, they will get to learn and ply the trade on the outside grass all season, which will make a big differance in how the kids adapt to the game and improve their spacial awareness on the football pitch.

Big Sam is correct in saying this - though i doubt the FA will change much, they rarely do. Also - Big Sam getting the boot at Blackburn, what an absurd decision

add comment | complain about this comment

posted Dec 16, 2010

Not sure I entirely agree with Sam on this one. Youth football seems pretty well organised in this country with the academy system providing regular games throughout the season.

What does need proper organisation is reserve team football. You have a situation now where many clubs do not have proper reserve teams peferring to play friendlies (often behind closed doors) to try to keep players match fit but in my view it stifles the development of players over the age of youth football.

The current situation is down to the Premier League and their insistence on keeping their reserve competition limited to their own clubs. I'd like to see a return to a regionalised structure for reserve team football thus providing youth players with a proper stepping stone and a decent number of fixtures each season.

add comment | complain about this comment

posted Dec 16, 2010

I think its a great idea for young kids,
it would get in the way of their school work and gives them somthing to do during the school holidays

add comment | complain about this comment

comment by davidb (U14621928)

posted Dec 16, 2010

On the face of it I have some support to this suggestion. However the TCCB and LTA ,who's sports are summer based ,will also be pushing to get kids involed so it will be difficult to fit ot all in.
I have boys in my team who play cricket in the summer and now in the depths of winter they are already at winter nets indoors.

add comment | complain about this comment

posted Dec 16, 2010

It's a good idea, more time on the pitch, less cancelled matches, kids won't be put off by bad weather conditions and they might keep their interest in the game.

Any resistance to this idea so far has been 'but we have always done it this way!' Which in all honesty, is a pathetic argument.

add comment | complain about this comment

posted Dec 16, 2010

It's a great idea my kid has had 6 games cancelled due to weather this season.

It would give kids something to do throughout the long summer holiday instead of playing on some boggy pitch that doesnt lend itself to a passing game.

Playing 2 foot of mud doesn't help technical ability.

add comment | complain about this comment

posted Dec 16, 2010

The only ones to feel the pinch would, I feel, be those involved in cricket. I and most of my friends used to play for local clubs - football in the winter and cricket in the summer. Given the option I would have chosen football, and so you may find local cricket sides losing out.

Having said that, I think it's a fantastic idea. Summer matches, smaller pitches (and footballs) for younger kids, a focus on technical ability and keeping the ball rather than sticking the biggest kid at the back and winning at all costs - they all need to come in sooner rather than later I feel.

add comment | complain about this comment

comment by sd1986 (U14724843)

posted Dec 16, 2010

I'm in support of the theory as coaching sessions could be enhanced by better weather, therefore providing a better learning environment. It would be easier to arrange fixtures and, especially younger players, maintain interest. It could also encourage greater participation and overall enjoyment of the game if played in summer weather.

I appreciate children have been playing in winter for generations, however just because we've done it in the past does that mean we have to continue? Football is an ever changing sport and we need to be adaptable to develop our game.

The conflict would be with other sports, such as cricket and tennis. This could be a good step for football, but would we be force feeding the country one sport at the sacrifice of others? I always encourage young players in my care to play as many different sports as possible, to aid movement patters and creative thinking. If we were to just concentrate on football, the imagination and creativity of players would be solely in one area and this could have a negative effect on how children view and approach the game. Children might also get varying success levels throughout different sports and just playing one could greatly affect their confidence and perhaps drive them away from the sport altogether.

In conclusion, I feel it is an excellent idea but it would mean a complete shift in the dynamics of the British sports calendar, with many possible negative as well as positive outcomes so the question would have to be, is it worth it?

add comment | complain about this comment

posted Dec 16, 2010

Finally, smoeone with half a brain. Never realy liked Big Sam, but this is exactly the sort of idea needed - lets fcae it, how much can kids learn on a boggy pitch where you cant run properly, the ball doesnt run, and therefore the most effective tactic is kick and rush! Plus, coaches wouldnt be thinking...I better get these kids playing again soon rather than talking else they'll be icicles! They'd actually get to TEACH the kids about the tactics etc of the game!! Wow - is this an unbelievable theory or what...get on with it FA - sort it now!

add comment | complain about this comment

posted Dec 18, 2010

do kids need to be on real grass on full size pitches at any time of the year- 5 aside well aid kids at juniour level much more and is in door, the game is all apart skill and passing, and can be played any time

add comment | complain about this comment

Comment on this article

Sorry, you can only contribute to 606 during opening hours. These are 0900-2300 UK time, seven days a week, but may vary to accommodate sporting events and UK public holidays.


Rate Breakdown

  • 5 75.00%
    3 votes
  • 4
    0 votes
  • 3
    0 votes
  • 2
    0 votes
  • 1 25.00%
    1 votes

average rating:
4.00 from 4 votes