World Football - England aim to follow Barca model

Thu, 02 Jun 20:59:00 2011

Gareth Southgate hopes the FA's proposal to overhaul youth football will allow England to develop a new generation of players who are on a par with Barcelona's current stars.

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Southgate, the FA's head of elite development, and national development manager Nick Levett, have been touring England promoting the 'Your Kids your say' programme. The initiative includes a raft of recommendations for changes in youth football and was unveiled last December as a result of an 18-month research project into how to improve development at grassroots level.

The programme, if approved by 75 per cent of the FA's voting shareholders, will mean children will not play 11-a-side club football until U13 level, while other younger players will play in teams of five, seven or nine dependent on their age.

The FA point to the fact that three of the most successful countries in the world in recent years - Spain, France and Italy - do not play 11-a-side until U14 level as proof that the plan will have a positive impact on England's chances of international success.

The programme also recommends young footballers play matches on smaller pitches with smaller goals.

Southgate, who assumed his new role in February, says the research that went into the project shows England needs to implement the changes recommended in the plan to bring the country onto a par with the continent's most successful nations.

"We are at a point in time where people want change," Southgate said.

"People have seen the way that the likes of Barcelona have played this year and they're asking: 'Why can't our kids play that way?'

"We want them to play that way. We feel that what we are proposing will give them the environment to develop those skills.

"We have down the years produced some technically gifted players but we want to increase that pool of talent so that if our best one or two players get injured, there is a bigger talent pool to come in."

PA Sport

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