The English Football Association announced Friday that it will ban competitive soccer leagues for under-8s from next season in order to help improve skills and technique among young English players. FA officials said "the pressure to win leagues was more often for the satisfaction of parents and coaches than the children," writes Anil Dawar. The children will still be able to play games, but results and league tables will no longer be compiled, starting September.
"Of course, we are not banning children from competing against each other in football," said former England midfielder and the FA's director of football development, Trevor Brooking. "Every game played is competitive, but undoubtedly having league tables at this age is not helping their development. It is the league tables being stopped rather than matches. In the youngest age groups, there's too much emphasis on winning leagues..."
The FA's director of communications, Adrian Bevington, said the moved followed consultation with over 20,000 people involved in grassroots football. A problem had been identified whereby "kids of a very young age have been encouraged by coaches and parents to kick the ball long, lump it forward, to win a game and win a league. What we are doing is playing match by match, encouraging patience, skills and technique."