Monday 31 March 2014By ESFA Office
I am truly amazed at the determination and resilience shown by our schools, districts and counties to get their fixtures played in which, for many, has been the most difficult Winter conditions. The amount of rain has made many pitches unplayable for long periods of time and the advantage of the 3 and 4G surfaces has come to the fore for those who have access to them. My thanks go to all involved in trying to keep competitions to schedule. With the Spring officially upon us, we hope the positive turn in weather is here to stay.
I am also pleased to be able to inform membership that David Ebberson has been appointed to oversee the Premier League/ESFA Primary District Initiative which is slowly getting under way in most parts of the country. All of the PL clubs along with Wigan, Middlesborough, Wolves, Reading and QPR are now on board and I look forward to David’s reports on progress throughout the country.
Of great concern to most schools at present is the move to U12 9v9 football next season and the shortage of funding for new goals. Although a good number of schools have the required goals at present there is significant need for more funding to be made available to enable the purchase of more sets. John Read continues to lobby at the National Game Board for more funding to be made for schools and the matter is being closely monitored at present. As soon as more news becomes available on funding we will let schools know but you will have to act fast.
The PlayStation launches in schools throughout the country have been a tremendous success and have seen action packed days in every school visited. It is pleasing to hear that PlayStation have already hit their first year sales target for their PS4 product only half way through the year. I hope that they look upon this as being one of the benefits of their sponsorship of the ESFA! The PlayStation finals are scheduled to be in May and are sure to be one occasion that you can definitely overdose on football. Fifteen games over three days is a mammoth undertaking and I wish Darren and his team from the ESFA office all of the very best of luck.
The boys U18 and Girls U15 ESFA International teams have been undergoing their final preparations over recent weeks. The trials processes have involved hundreds of players who have all been given the opportunity to show off their skills. Those who have been selected to represent the ESFA have already shown their undoubted abilities and look to prove excellent ambassadors to our Association. The boys have recently played the visiting Australian Schools FA team, Shrewsbury Town FC Youth and Wolves Youth and have emerged victorious in each game amassing 16 goals along the way. The Centenary Shield matches thus far have gone well, taking 4 points from a possible 6. The girls began their preparations in CE Futbol Salou just south of Barcelona where they enjoyed victories over two Norwegian club sides, Fossum and Stabaek. Nine goals scored in their two games hint that our games may be well worth a visit if either team are playing in your area – a notion that has only been enhanced by the 8-0 thrashing the girl’s delivered to the Republic of Ireland team on a sunny afternoon in Maidstone.
So many positive comments have been made about the standards of behaviour, appearance and performance of our teams that they are a joy to be with. They show off our Association in such a good light and are proof of the values and skills honed in them by every teacher that has worked in school football.
At the recent Schools International Board meeting in Brussels we had the pleasure of attending an excellent presentation from Marc van Geersom of the Belgian FA on the provision for late developers. They seem to be doing very well in developing their players to world class level at the moment and so I think their methods are worth studying. I am not sure that taking a player as young as we do in this country and subjecting them to the magical 10000 hours of coaching actually works. It may do with violinists with whom the research was actually carried out but here it is currently turning out a lot of disappointed boys at age 16 (or younger) who are leaving the game.
Finally, the link with the ESFA to the launch of the national Talent Pool by Pass4Soccer seems to have raised a few eyebrows in some quarters. Is it because teachers always seem to be looking for a catch? Quite simply it is a scheme in which boys and girls who are not in the Academy/Centre of “Excellence” system can get themselves assessed and receive an improvement plan which they can work upon to improve their game. Yes it does cost the individual player but it is in response to demand.
As the final stages of this current season come rushing towards us can I firstly thank all of you for the efforts you put in to ensure that Schools Football is so enjoyable. For those of you taking part in final stages of competitions, I wish you good luck. Most of all, enjoy the occasions and make sure that the players have a memorable experience.