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FOOTBALL: Radical youth football overhaul approved
9:20pm Monday 28th May 2012 in Football
REVOLUTIONARY changes to youth football proposed by the Football Association have received overwhelming backing by the organisation's shareholders.
Some 87 per cent of the 778 votes cast were in favour of the plans which will see youngsters playing in smaller-sided games, with smaller pitches and goals, and more emphasis on learning skills rather than winning.
FA director of football development Sir Trevor Brooking has called the vote "as important as anything that will happen this summer. The Euros are about the here and now - this vote is about the future."
A meeting of county FAs, clubs and other bodies at Wembley today saw 679 votes cast in favour of the proposals and 99 against.
The changes will be phased in for the 2014-15 season and see 5 v 5 for seven and eight-year-olds, and 9 v 9 for 11 and 12-year-olds.
Nick Levett, national development manager for the FA, said the changes were part of a long-term plan that should lead to benefits all the way up to England level.
Levett said: "This is about grassroots football but also a 15 to 20-year programme for long-term player development, ultimately to help produce players to support the professional game and England team.
"It will mean more touches, more shots and more dribbles for young players and therefore improving the kids' technique."
Levett admitted there would need to be an education process to stop parents and coaches enforcing a win at all costs attitude for youth football.
"We want there to be less pressure on kids," he added.
"There needs to be a climate change - this is kids football not the World Cup final."
Gareth Southgate, the FA's head of elite development, made a speech before the vote urging delegates to back the proposals.
The new proposals passed by the FA AGM will see young players not play 11-a-side football until they are 13.
It will be mandatory for under-sevens and eights to play five-a-side games.
U11s and 12s will play nine a side.
The pitch size and size of goals will be appropriate to their age group.
The ideal is youngsters will have more time on the ball and so develop better technical skills.
Competitions will become more child-friendly, breaking up the eight-month-long, adult-based season into smaller periods of competition.
Parents and coaches will be encouraged to drop a win-at-all-costs approach to children's football.
MORE ON THIS STORY IN THURSDAY'S GAZETTE & HERALD AND FRIDAY'S WILTSHIRE TIMES
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