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Systematic Structured Development

Professional Football Development


Progress 1996 - 2011

1996 - Soccer Kids

Although Mini Soccer and Soccer Star (match and basic tests - but no coaching permitted) had been launched by the FA, there was still no concerted effort being made to address the key area of grass roots development, so in 1996 I formed my own SSD school (Soccer Kids) at the University of Sheffield which quickly hit the national press as the most successful football development programme in the UK.

Today, Soccer Kids has relocated to another part of Sheffield and is now predominantly an open starter school (takes children of all ability levels), but it still provides more children to the new pro academey scheme than any other shool in the UK. Go to Soccer Kids Site

1998 - The FA and Premier League Launch the New Academy Programme

Despite the initial strong criticism from the powers that be, the Premier League launches the new Pro Club Academy Scheme and the FA introduces a new set of coaching courses.

There is no reference to the Grass Roots Report 1995, it is all their own work, but the system contains around 45% of the Grass Roots recommendations.

1998 - NEW Updated Grass Roots Report

Although implementing 45% of the original report was a good starting point, there were still, however, a number of vital areas still missing, which in my mind, was a bit like building a house without a roof and no electricity - so in 1998 I published an updated version.



15 years on, and although nearly 75% of the original Grass Roots Report had now been finally implemented, there were was still much room for improvement, so I published my final Report - Kicking Into The Future.

# There are still no specialist child/youth coaches in England

# Academies are being used as a stepping stone for ex players going into senior coaching

# Academies are stopping young kids from playing for their school teams

# The academies have restricted, not increased the number of playing hours

# There is still no mental coachin

# There are no coaching differentials

# There is no set development programme

# There is too much emphasis on sports science with young kids

# Physical stature is coming before natural ability

# There is no catch-up process (physical and mental development)

# There is no cultural adaptation

Official EU Statistics 2007

# The UK has the lowest number of playing fields per population in Europe.

More than 5000 were sold between 1970 and 1982 and they are still being sold at the rate of 4 per month.

# Children in the UK spend more time indoors than any other children throughout Europe

# The UK has the lowest number of school PE hours in Europe

# The UK have the unfittest children in Europe

# The UK has the highest number of obese children in Europe

# The UK have the lowest number of children's coaches (per population) in Europe

2011 - The FA Announces Changes

The FA announces major changes to its future youth development programmes.

# We are going to introduce specialist children and youth coaches because coaching a 5 year old is not the same as working with a 12 year old


# Academies should no longer stop young children from playing with their friends or school teams because kids today are not playing enough football

# Academies must have age related training programmes (coaching differentials)

# We have to stop this idea that early physically developed lads make better players and aim more towards developing the naturally gifted irrespective of size

2011 - The Government Announces Changes

The Government announces major changes concerning sport and fitness in our schools.

# The random sale of school playing fields has to stop

# A minimum of 2 hours school PE per week will return to the curriculum

# We have to organise more out-of-school sport activities for young kids and provide them with the right facilities and proper coaches.

# There will be a return to competitive sport in schools and will employ more PE teachers

. . . . so there you have it, how the Grass Roots 1995 and Kicking Into the Future 2010 Reports were insrumental in the formation of the current English Football Academy Scheme.
That said, even today, only around 75% of the original recommendations have actually been implemented - there are some important key areas still missing - and a lot of the promises made by the authorities did not materialise.

As outlined previously this is only a brief insight into the content so there is no mention about the number of young foreign players being recruited into the system, blocking progression for profit, etc, etc, etc - it is a business for the top clubs not a professional development programme.

Now we move onto some of the basics of SSD.

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