ESFA Newsletter - February 2008
MESSAGE FROM THE CHAIRMAN
Chairman Gerry Smith
Welcome to the fourth newsletter of the year and to the time of the ESFA season when competitions are at the quarter final stages. Many schools are dreaming of reaching a National Final and perhaps playing at a major professional stadium. Those schools participating in the RAF under 16 competitions can look forward to playing at the City of Manchester Stadium on the 28th April. On May 16th at the Ricoh Stadium, Coventry the finals of the Minute Maid under 13 boys and girls competitions will also take place.
I can speak from my own experiences in regard to the memorable experiences the ESFA endeavour to make these occasions. As a coach I took a team from Kingsdown School to Highbury in 1999 in the final of the national under 14 competitions but faced the disappointment of losing 2-1. Fortunately, two years later at under16 level, the same team, older and wiser, beat a team from Liverpool 4-1 when the final was staged at Coventry City. On both occasions Mike Spinks and Darren Alcock from the competitions department, ably supported by chief executive John Read ensured the whole day was an experience to be treasured by all the young players and of course by me as their coach. Mike and Darren are busy ensuring this year’s competitions draw to a successful close hopefully at grounds that all the finalists will appreciate for many years to come. Can I wish all teams still left in competitions the very best of luck in forthcoming matches.
Since the last Newsletter I have accompanied the Under 18 team to Lilleshall for their final training weekend on 26th / 27th January before embarking on their first International of the season and their half term trip to Spain for 3 days training. A full days training on Saturday was followed by a game against the Australian Touring Schoolboy team on Sunday 27th January. Shrewsbury Town staged the game on behalf of ESFA with a good local crowd witnessing an exciting game. Goals by Tom Siddons and Tom Grice gave the English players a commanding 2-0 lead at half time which they never really relinquished in spite of a number of substitutions throughout the second half. This was a great start to the International season and the squad shows promise for the remainder of the season.
My next experience of ESFA activities was in Gloucester where John Read and I were guests of Gloucester Primary Schools FA. John spent Friday evening watching the boys from the A and B district squads train at a local leisure centre and then I joined him on Saturday morning to watch both squads play against Bath and the Vale of White Horse respectively. Although not at the same technical level of their under 18 ESFA peers it was a pleasure to watch a game between two district representative teams refereed by a young referee with no criticism from the sideline by spectators.
Secretary and team manager Bob Owen has been the driving force of this association for many years. He is aided by a small army of helpers who in the last two seasons have raised finances for the rebuilding of an old hut into changing rooms, a kitchen and meeting room. Chairman Keith Steadman was bursting with pride when he showed John and I their updated facilities and the comprehensive collection of photographs and memorabilia displayed around the wall of their meeting room. This association is committed to their local community and are to be congratulated on the contribution they make to the football and social education of the young players in their care. My thanks to Bob, Keith and the many other colleagues in Gloucester for their hospitality and commitment to ESFA activities.
As we approach March can I look forward to meeting colleagues at Bath for the South West Regional meeting to discuss the role and development of the ESFA in the future? Other meetings will also take place around the country previously advertised by all ESFA publications and newsletters. I hope as many colleagues will endeavour to attend to ensure membership is able to contribute to these important discussions.
Finally, I need to mention the forthcoming U18 International match at Wembley on 26th April against Scotland. Full details have been published on the ESFA website and will appear in more detail in this newsletter. Many national newspapers and publications are advertising the game and we hope for a crowd of 40,000 plus. Having been at Wembley recently to watch the Spurs v Chelsea Carling Cup final if the schools spectators can generate a similar atmosphere it will be a fantastic occasion. Martin Duffield is leading the committee working tirelessly to ensure this ESFA event is a day to remember for everyone involved. For me personally it will certainly be the highlight of my year as Chairman. I hope all ESFA colleagues will join me on this historical day.
OFFICE UPDATE – FEBRUARY 2008
I write this shortly before heading off from Stafford to Leicester to start my tour of the 4 regions to talk about the future of schools’ football. From Leicester tonight I move to Wakefield tomorrow night, via Durham to discuss the plans for our under 18 International at Sunderland on 19th April at the Stadium of Light against the Republic of Ireland. I shall quickly ‘pop’ back into the office on Friday to clear up the undoubted 100 odd emails. On the road again on Monday to Bath and then to London on Tuesday.
This update is instead of the General Newsletter that would have followed the Council Meeting on 8/9 March because not only will the staff here in Stafford be up to their eyes in Wembley once we hit the month of March, your Chairman and I will also be away with the under 18s in Belfast.
There are only three main issues at this time:
Yes I know, you are all fed up of this topic, worthwhile as it maybe! However, with Government legislation coming into force later this year we cannot ignore the situation. I have attached a latest update from the FA but suffice to say that each District Schools’ and County Schools’ FA must nominate a CWO by 1 September 2008 and that they must have at least one nominated and trained official by September 2009. Non compliance will be a criminal offence. To help us through this the FA are likely to allow us to appoint a National CWO on a part time basis to work out of Stafford.
FA Funding and Business Plan
Those of you who attended one of my 4 regional meetings will know about this already. In order for us to continue to gain funding from the FA that is ‘ring fenced’ for our Associations, we are going to have to be far more proactive in our target settings and delivery plans. In order for us to comply with the FA’s new regulations as part of the Football Strategy 2008-2012 (they are now our largest funding partner), we will have to complete our National Business Plan in the next few months. The FA is reverting to a seasonal budget (July to June) from 1 July 2008. In May 2008 you will be requested to complete your funding applications (currently this is asked for in September), which should be with my office no later than the date of the AGM. At the post AGM Council Meeting grants will be allocated to Associations. However, monies will not be released until, as now, December of each year and then only on the successful receipt in the office of the Associations Financial report.
Please may I enlist your support in pushing our match against Scotland at Wembley? I know that there is some disquiet out there at the ticket price but you all must realize that time has moved on from the last time we were at Wembley. The major point that must be passed onto all prospective ticket buyers is that we have had to make a considerable payment to Wembley National Stadium Ltd just to use the bottom two tiers of the ground. We will need over 30,000 paying spectators to break even, so please get around your schools and ensure that we have good support. If only 3 representatives from each school in our membership attended we would be able to fill all our available seats. The match is advertised on our website, the Wembley web site and the FA web site. There will be a number of articles in the National Press (did you see the Daily Telegraph last Friday and the Jeff Powell page in the Daily Mail on Monday?), radio and television during the next two months.
We are proud to be able to give our Primary Schools’ Finalists a chance to run out at the famous stadium and to include an International Celebrity match between Sir David Frosts’ England and Rod Stewart’s Scotland. It should be a great day out for schools, football clubs and individuals. Additionally we have agreed with Bobby Moore’s widow to play for the Bobby Moore Trophy as we all feel that the ethos of schools’ football is well suited to the great gentleman of the English game. Support England, or just come for a great day out.
Under 18 England Schools' Team 2007-2008
Hopefully I will have seen many of you over the next (past) few days.
Best wishes and thank you for your continued support of schools’ football.
John A Read