Scrap Winter Grassroots Football & Introduce a Summer League
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I have played football for 30 years and I have been coaching for 10 years. It is about time we make some changes if we want to see more participation and an increased standard of grassroots football in England.
I strongly believe that a grassroots / recreational summer league (March - October) would increase the number of adults and children playing the beautiful game. From November to March we have so many games called off due to adverse weather conditions and poor quality pitches that it is becoming increasingly frustrating and is taking a lot of enjoyment out of the game. My reasons a summer league would benefit english grassroots football are listed below.
1.You get yourself fit and into the season and then the UK is hit with months of awful weather, meaning many players become unfit again, which increases the risk of injury.
2. Children who are looking to start playing football and ones that do not regularly start can spend time on the sidelines, watching their team in freezing conditions and very wet weather. From personal coaching experience they stand huddled up next to their unhappy parents not enjoying the experience at all. A summer league would encourage the children on the bench to kick a ball about and practice some drills on the sideline rather than get cold, again reducing the risk of injury and certainly making theirs and their parents weekend football games more enjoyable. I strongly believe participation and enjoyment would increase with the introduction of a summer league both in children and in adults grassroots football. More participants and enjoyment will in the long term increase the standard of football throughout England.
3. Training can become expensive and not all families can afford to pay subs to use a local indoor or floodlit facilities throughout the winter. With the introduction of a summer league teams can train at the local park for free in the evenings. Reducing the cost, increasing participation and I also believe increasing a players enjoyment due to it being a few degrees warmer.
4. A summer league would not only encourage players and parents, it would also entice more people to take the trip to the local park and support their local grassroots teams. More people out of the house in the fresh air, again encouraging higher numbers of people to get involved with the sport.
So what are the drawbacks and what are the solutions?
Drawback 1. In the summer pitches can get hard and therefore games will inevitably be called off. Yes this will happen but I am almost certain that far fewer games will be called off throughout the summer than those in the winter leagues. This season my 11 aside team has played 5 or 6 games since November it is now April. That is an average of 1 game per month. We now have a backlog of 13 games to play in 4 weeks. Many of us have families and we are certainly not professional athletes, 3 games a week for 4 weeks will cause injuries, not everyone can play due to work and family comittments and our team are struggling to field 11 players at 6.15pm kick offs.
Drawback 2. Its dangerous, players may struggle in the heat. Lets face it we live in the UK and our summers arent that hot. We could introduce evening games for a couple of months throughout mid summer. Regular water breaks on hot days, coaches have the responsibility to ensure players, especially children wear sun protection.
I firmly believe that introducing a summer league will dramatically increase numbers of football participants throughout the UK and in the long term increase the standard of our football as a whole, helping us to compete with the very best.
Compared to many petitions posted online this may seem rather insignificant. However i am very passionate about football and sport as a whole. It kept me out of trouble and many of my closest friends were members of sports teams which i have had the pleasure to be involved in over the years. Increasing the number of people keeping fit, enjoying themselves and building strong relationships along the way can only be a positive for our country, our sport and our local communities
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