By John Cartwright
All readers’ of the Premier Skills ‘blog’ over the past few years will have noted my deep interest in the development of young players and for the game itself. I have been critical of the coaching methodology that has been used over many decades by our national association. I have become extremely concerned with both the results of their long-term control over coaching and the direction they have recently taken with yet another ‘tinkering’ with development methods.
I watch all levels of the game here and have done so for the past 12 years. I see no overall improvement in both individual playing skill or team qualities. The latest input into development is more concerned with the elite end of the learning process with the introduction of EPPP and as with Burton -St George’s we are told that it will take ten years before we see the ‘fruits ripening’ on these ‘questionable trees’! We have been told several times before that ‘ideas’ emanating from the FA’s coaching dept. would eventually lead to a surge in player quality; Lilleshall National School, Centres of Excellence and Academies are just some of those expensive failures.
Our football hierarchy have consistently failed to understand that —- CHILDREN MUST FOLLOW A GRADUAL PATHWAY OF LEARNING METHODS. – from NURSERY TO UNIVERSITY! That pathway in the past was provided for football by youngsters ‘graduating’ from the University of the Street’ but since the demise of the street game structured coaching has provided that pathway and unfortunately, that pathway leads to nowhere!
When will we realize that the work done at 5/6 years of age is the ‘foundation’ for players of 20+ ? . The latest ‘gimmick’ of playing more competitive games at the u/21 age group with players who have not acquired the ability to play at this level is ridiculous. Due to their exposure to the deficiencies in development methods from a young age, players are unable to produce playing qualities that are necessary for senior football; — once again, we have put ‘the cart before the horse’ and concentrated on the senior end of the game instead of the junior end and are then told we must wait for a decade before positive results will occur. I do not believe any such progress will happen and, after several years of frustrating failure, we will once again have another piece of useless ‘tinkering’ set out before us as the answer to our failures.
HELLO THE FA!! It’s about time the development system here was scrapped and a better thought-out version put in place. Greatness is something that is nurtured to prominence over the years, it is not something that can be achieved overnight. We must concentrate more carefully on the early development years to provide the platform for high standards later. The consistent failures and poor quality playing standards that have become a regular feature in our football can only be repelled by the introduction of a better coaching and development structure allied to an intelligent games’ infrastructure from junior to senior levels.
Week after week, it is frightening to watch ‘labourers’ trying to do the work of skilled craftsmen and unless our game is prepared to make the thorough changes required we will continue to follow the other nations of this kingdom down football’s road to obscurity.