Decision is pointless and ridiculous

WITH 8,000 referees required, a National team slipping further and further down the world rankings and their “main” league (the Premier League) dominated by foreign players, you might suspect the Football Association had more to worry about than the banning of competitive football for eight-year-olds.

Mike Bacon

WITH 8,000 referees required, a National team slipping further and further down the world rankings and their “main” league (the Premier League) dominated by foreign players, you might suspect the Football Association had more to worry about than the banning of competitive football for eight-year-olds.

But no, incredibly not.

Now before I go any further, sit down because I'm going to say a terrible word . . . competitive. BOO!


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I know terrible isn't it?

But joking part, in this country we are always moaning about how hard life is for young kids these days. If it isn't SATS tests, it's spelling tests or English tests, or karate gradings, or swimming certificates to obtain. All too much apparently for our children, even though the reality, especially at six or seven years old, they don't give a toddle.

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But no, instead of supporting our teachers/sports coaches/youth leaders, who are only seeking to help our children attain their highest possible achievements, we do nothing but knock them, and indirectly put our children down.

At eight years old, on a football pitch, kids don't know (or care), whether they are playing a league, cup, friendly or testimonial game for that matter.

Competitive? Of course kids are. For most, being competitive is natural, not forced upon them.

When is the last time you watched seven year olds play sport, be it football, rugby, ride bikes, swim? Put flippin' jumpers down for goalposts if you like, I guarantee the five-year-olds will still know the score of the game!

For the vast majority of them, sport will always be fun and competitive.

Speaking as a coach who ran an under-8 team last year, I find the decision to ban competitive under-eight football as pointless as it is ridiculous.

Some clubs will fold, many coaches will give up and go take up other sports where seven year olds can obtain recognition for their efforts. Certainly nothing in the psyche of the children will change.

Most kids under eight today compete in swimming, karate, cycle speedway, tennis and many, many other sports, where they are coached and encouraged and of course those who are good, rewarded. Why does football seem to think it is so special?

Well, I'll tell you why.

Because ladies and gentleman, this has nothing to do with children at under 8 not being competitive, but everything to do with the adults who watch.

In my opinion, this is about the FA and those associated trying to kick unruly parents into touch. Those same unruly parents (like unruly players and managers on Sunday mornings or in the Premiership), who the FA have failed to deal with, failed to organise, failed to react to and now the body that is supposed to encourage grass roots football is failing our children by basically try to ban it.

We all know some parents' behaviour, especially towards referees and even other children, just like some Premiership managers' behaviour towards officials, is bang out of order.

And of course there is a minority of parents who spoil things. But they will always spoil things whatever level of football they are watching. Indeed they will take their “verbals” into Premiership grounds. That's society's problem I'm afraid.

It's like the current “respect” campaign the FA are running in the hope of changing attitudes towards officials. Personally I couldn't agree more with it.

But you and I know, it has no chance of succeeding, as the FA dodge the headline managers and players, smacking them on the wrist with petty fines.

So well done FA, ban competitive football for those Under 8 (hey why not make it U12? perhaps U16s? Just think of a number) and then the kids can sit indoors all day and play on the Wii.

Thankfully, I and many thousands of parents in this country won't let the FA insinuate to our children the world is a big soft piece of marshmallow, topped with ice cream.

Most of us fortunately live in the real world, where it's great to enjoy the fresh air, great to have fun and even more fun to compete, whether that means winning OR losing.

PS: Does this new ruling mean England are better equipped to win the World Cup? Answers on a stamp please!

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