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BBC presenter highlights changes

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The FA have reminded grassroots youth football clubs that resources are available to guide them through the processes of the Youth Development Review (YDR) after the elements were promoted on BBC Breakfast recently.

With many youth leagues having already adopted the new changes, and more following suit over the next two seasons, BBC Breakfast went out onto the pitch to learn more.

Presenter Mike Bushell tested out a special over-sized goal, which demonstrated the need for changes in pitch and goal sizes for the nation’s younger players.

He spoke to the FA’s National Development Manager, Nick Levett, who explained the thinking behind the alterations.

“As soon as you put kids on massive pitches, adults want to win and pick bigger, stronger and faster kids,” said Levett.

“They’ll get kids just to whack it over the top and, when they get through to a huge goal, and a tiny little kid, there’s no challenge for them and it’s very easy to score.

“In theory, with the changes to smaller pitches and goals, you can have much more of a focus on technique and skill development for the future generations.”

In 2010, the FA examined recommendations based on research and feedback from across the country.

After listening to the views of the grassroots game, two main proposals surrounding the player pathway and competition strategy emerged.

Positive changes have been put in place to improve enjoyment, fun and the development of young players, allowing more touches on a better proportioned pitch with an increased involvement in the game as a whole.

The YDR is about a modern, child-friendly approach to youth football, challenging the ‘win-at-all-costs’ mentality which is stifling development and enjoyment for young people.

Working together with a proactive attitude, adults can help develop a better learning environment for young people which puts their needs at the centre of the process.

In preparation for the phasing in of the new elements from the 2013/14 season, age-specific resources have been developed to support their implementation.

The book for under-11s and under-12s includes the laws of the game for 9v9 football, highlighting how offside is included, and isn’t optional - which has proved to be a popular question.

The leagues resource has been developed in conjunction with a leagues working party to ensure the information is relevant.

Videos and resources can be found online at www.TheFA.com/YouthDevelopmentReview.

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