Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Endangered Species: Grassroots Football

Football Academy for young footballers.
England, as a nation in the footballing world, may be on the up after a poor World Cup. However, bar the odd Euros win, you never hear about young English talent winning any continental competitions.

I think this starts right at the bottom.

Grassroots football.

Grassroots football is fading away more and more, and with less money being invested in the system where are the footballers of the future meant to come from?

Roughly, and I mean roughly, thirty-four million pounds is invested each year (twelve million from the FA and Premier League respectively and ten million from the government), but is that really enough? Once again, approximately, the Premier League makes around three billion pounds per year from the game we love. That is only around 0.4%.


If the Premier League truly wanted to improve the game they could give grassroots 0.8%, just 0.4%% more. and that would give them an extra twelve million to play with.

So, let's say the Premier League offered that extra tiny percentage to the grassroots development schemes. New training facilities, equipment, school teaching and the list goes on, could be added to the infrastructure of the beautiful game in England at lower levels. Give a child a football and he will play, it's that simple.

England U18's (pictured above) they've got to be given the chance at club level as well though. That's the main problem.
However, in certain areas around England, some people cannot afford to fund a child's wants, even if it is just a football. Who knows, and yes this is far out of context, but the next Wayne Rooney, Beckham, etc. could be on a street corner causing trouble instead of playing football, simply because he can't.

Then comes the actual Sunday League sides. Once again, some of them don't have the advantage of a lot of money and cannot afford all the expense for new kits, training equipment, nets, etc. This means some fold and the chance to play football is taken away from youngsters. This is where the funding could step in and provide that extra bit of money and make sure certain areas, or clubs can get the gear they need. In an ideal world the funding should provide for everyone, but that's not going to happen.

Then, lastly the academies. The more 'well off' teams, let's say, poach all the best players from other clubs and then that youngster plays out his full youth career for the academy. His dream comes true and he signs a professional contract. However, he then may get messed about because of all the foreign talent the club have, and ultimately be released, never reaching his potential.

Therefore, I think it would improve grassroots football no end if there was a limit on foreign players even in the youth and reserves squad. This would enable young British/English players more game time and more time to improve their football.

For example, let's say Matt Smith is coming through the Manchester City youth system rapidly, only for his progress to be stifled by the new up and coming Nigerian winger. Obviously there is nothing wrong with foreign players coming through, but I do believe there should be a limit that teams can register/play, this would then enable the home grown players to come through.

To conclude, I firmly believe that the money in football is the problem (in England anyway). The 'top dogs' of English football are not reinvesting enough money back into the game. This leads to a great decline in talent produced in future, not only hindering the local game, but also hindering the progress of the national game too.

Just think about that.

You never know, either of these could be the future.

This article was written by Tom Patey.

Tom is 15, from the North of England, and enjoys playing football, refereeing, and writing about football. If you would like to get in touch with Tom to write an article for your website then please email and we will pass on your details.

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