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Hampstead boss Powell urges re-think on youth football season

PUBLISHED: 14:23 09 April 2010 | UPDATED: 16:54 07 September 2010

A HAMPSTEAD youth football boss believes players progression is being hampered by the inappropriate timing of the Youth Football League season. Hampstead FC manager Mike Powell fields 36 teams comprising 600 players between the ages of 3-16, with each t

A HAMPSTEAD youth football boss believes players' progression is being hampered by the inappropriate timing of the Youth Football League season.

Hampstead FC manager Mike Powell fields 36 teams comprising 600 players between the ages of 3-16, with each team playing an average of 20 games between September to mid-May.

In recent seasons Hampstead has unearthed a host of young talent with eight-year-olds Frankie McCarthy and Nathaniel Orafu snapped up by Tottenham Hotspur's Academy and others signing for Arsenal and Leyton Orient.

But despite the the club's recognition Powell has become increasingly frustrated with the large number of postponed matches due to bad weather.

"This is the third year running we have struggled through the winter months and this time we have lost the equivalent of two months play which is forcing teams into a situation where they have to play double-headers," said Powell.

"Surely it is time the FA had a serious rethink about the youth football season as weekend after weekend, parents prepare their kids for games only for the matches to be called off.

"The late cancellations drive parents from the game. It wrecks weekends for the family and any planning is impossible.

"I see the negatives start to develop, but there is little we can offer parents by way of regular football this time of year. We had one team who have played one match in three months.

"The cancellations are frustrating but with climate change they are inevitable, why not move the season to March through to October and provide football in better conditions and a reasonable guarantee the games will go ahead.

"The parental and family support would vastly improve with parents taking grandparents along and siblings too.

"At present the lone parent is the norm, often dropping their child to avoid standing on a frozen touchline, inches deep in mud.

"The FA has spent £200 million on trying to improve touchline behaviour under the FA Respect banner and action to bring families back to the touchline would make a massive difference."

And Powell believes a scheduling change may also enhance these young players' talents.

"The more skilful players would have a chance to develop, whereas under the current system the long-ball, hoof-it tactic, is the winner.

"Any player of natural ball skill is systematically left on the touchline. It is no coincidence the world's most skilful players learn their football on flat pitches in decent climes.


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