The Young Footballer’s Bill of Rights

December 14, 2013

I recently attended the fantastic Inspire Football Event in Bristol.

It was a packed day, full of fascinating presentations. One talk from Nick Levett, The FA’s National Development Manager for Youth Football stood out and has inspired me to put my own thoughts on youth football to paper, so to speak. This post outlines my proposed ‘Young Footballer’s Bill of Rights’ inspired by Jeff Atwood, a great from the programming world and the author of The Programmer’s Bill of Rights.

The Young Footballer's Bill of Rights

  1. Every young footballer has the right to enjoy their football, whether it be training, match days or more casual play

    Football is a fun game and young footballers deserve the opportunity to figure that out for themselves.

  2. Every young footballer has the right to play football in a safe, secure environment.

    An obvious one but easily forgotten. Ensure your sessions are safe and suitable for the players taking part.

  3. Every young footballer has the right to be treated respectfully by teammates, coaches and parents.

    It is easy to forget that young footballers are still learning the game. As such, they deserve to be treated with dignity and allowed to make the mistakes required to learn at their own pace.

  4. Every young footballer has the right to be given the opportunity to learn all aspects of the game, without being fixed to a single role or position.

    There are many horror stories of grassroots clubs advertising for ‘experienced strikers’ for Under 10s teams. Young footballers deserve to learn all aspects of the game.

  5. Every young footballer has the right to be a child and be treated as such.

    How many young footballers still think about the game half an hour after it has finished? How many parents insist of raking over the game and any mistakes that occurred? It’s their game!

  6. Every young footballer has the right to learn the game in conditions that suit their size and inexperience whether this be appropriate sized equipment, pitches or number of players on the field.

    Mini-soccer has made great strides in this country for the last decade. Let’s keep it going.

  7. Every young footballer has the right to take part in coaching sessions planned and delivered by coaches who have considered the session and adapted it to suit the player.

    Treat the session with respect. Plan a session that suits the players and meets their needs.

  8. Every young footballer has the right to learn the game by making their own decisions.

    Don’t be a ‘Playstation coach‘. How will the players make decisions when you’re not there?

  9. Every young footballer has the right to play the game with players of similar ability. Better players should be challenged and struggling players have the right to be given the opportunity to catch up.

    It is easy for players to be overlooked, especially the weaker ones. Different people develop at different speeds. Make sure the game meets their needs.

  10. Every young footballer has the right to play the game for the love of the game, without needing to win for the sake of winning.

    In my opinion, results are not important until players reach at least fourteen years old. Even then, grassroots football is more about friendship and camaraderie rather than doing whatever it takes to win.

What do you think? Is there anything you’d add?

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