Former England and Middlesbrough defender Gareth Southgate calls for youth football revolution

Gareth Southgate speaking at the Nissan Sports and Social Club.
Gareth Southgate speaking at the Nissan Sports and Social Club.
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GARETH Southgate has called for league tables for younger football teams to be scrapped as part of a revolution in youth football across the country.

The FA kicked off their “Your Kids, Your Say Roadshow” on Wearside.

The former Middlesbrough boss, now FA head of elite development and Nick Levett, national development manager for youth and mini-soccer, presented radical proposals to overhaul the game to an audience at Nissan Sport and Social Centre.

Coaches and administrators from the North East’s grass roots football community heard recommendations from The FA’s Youth Development Review, which could see league tables scrapped for children below secondary-school age, the introduction of five-a-side and nine-a-side football, summer football and a change in the date that determines which age group children play in.

Southgate said: “My role will be to produce players who can play at first-team level and who can help us be successful with the England team.

“But obviously, we have got to start with the youngest players to be able to effect that.”

Levett was a familiar face to many in the audience as he has spent the last 18 months consulting over 300 youth clubs, hundreds of grassroots coaches, more than 150 youth leagues and arguably most importantly of all, 42 different groups of young footballers aged eight to 12 from both professional and grassroots clubs.

He will spearhead the tour, which will take in 16 towns and cities across the country between now and September.

It is hoped the new measures, if rubber-stamped, will start being adopted in the 2012-13 season, with mandatory introduction for the following campaign.

Levett said: “This is the start of an exciting period in youth football and the biggest progression since Mini Soccer was introduced in 1999.

“So far, the majority of people we have spoken to are in favour of developments to children’s football – but we know there are many issues still to be debated.

“The FA is committed to listening to the volunteer workforce which supports grass roots football in this country and helping them overcome the challenges ahead.”