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FA blows whistle on football trophies for children in bid to combat pushy parentsThe rule, which is already in force for under-7 and under-8s, will be introduced for the under 9 age group next week
00:44 GMT, 8 December 2012
For years youngsters have joined football clubs in the hope of not only winning their local league – but also collecting an end of season trophy.
But the Football Association is now banning the practice – claiming that youngsters will enjoy greater ‘player development’ if they play for fun.
The move, already in force for under-7 and under-8s, is already causing concerns for hundreds of leagues and thousands of coaches up and down the country before it is introduced for the under 9 age group next season.
New rules: The Football Association is banning the practice of awarding league trophies for under-9s (stock image)
The ‘No Trophies – No League Season’ format will be implemented in Under 10 and Under 11 mini-soccer at a later date.
The FA insists no results for the junior games are to be ‘collected or published’ – again to prevent youngsters from being put under too much pressure.
Changes to the junior game will see a series of ‘short’ four week cup competitions where clubs can publicise the names of winning teams and trophies can be presented.
After researching the issue, the FA argues awarding trophies for teams that have won their league after a nine month season is ‘detrimental to the development of the player’ and must no longer form part of the mini-soccer format.
In changes to the FA ‘Laws for Mini-Soccer’, the rulebook now states:
‘From 2013/2014 under 9’s are not permitted to play in leagues where results are collected or published or winner trophies are presented, this is deemed detrimental to the development of the player and the game and will not be sanctioned.’
The laws state that ‘from 2014/15 the same applies to under 10’s and from season 2015/16 to under 11’s.’
The rule changes have split many in the game and last night Professor Joan Freeman – a child psychologist with more than 40 years’ experience – said the FA could be making a mistake.
Changing the 'Laws for Mini-Soccer': The FA believes the current system is 'detrimental to the development' of young payers
‘There is nothing wrong with rewarding children for trying hard and succeeding over a sustained period,’ she said.
‘Sport is about winning and losing, as is life. The professional game is based around leagues and cups so I do not understand why they want to remove that element from the children’s game.’
Former Tottenham Hotspur captain and England international and club manager Alan Mullery yesterday said that medals and leagues were vital in youth football.
‘ You have to make the sport competitive and you cannot take that away and also you cannot take trophies away – the kids look forward to them.
‘I used to run a soccer school and the Holdsworth twins – Dean and David – won medals there and I know they still remember those medals. They both went on to successful careers in the professional game with Wimbledon and Sheffield United.
‘This idea also sounds like games will be more like friendlies when they have to be competitive and with something to win at the end of the season.’
Former Liverpool captain Tommy Smith agreed as he added: ‘If a team or individual players perform well throughout a season they should be recognised for their glorious achievement.
‘It takes courage and determination to win a season-long league or a cup and children should be encouraged to strive for that.
‘It’s good discipline and helps teach useful life-skills, no matter at what level of the game they play in later life.’
But former England and Arsenal defender Martin Keown told the Daily Mail: ‘Developing youth football is a very delicate balance. While I certainly think results should be published I can see the reason for not awarding medals and trophies – I think they are given away a little bit too freely in youth football with trophies for things like ‘most improved’ player and ‘best trainer.’
Last night an FA spokesman said: ‘Under the FA Youth Development Review we’ve removed the season long competition aspect away from kids football to concentrate on player development and shorter tournaments.
‘This follows extensive research across the country. Games will still be competitive and we encourage clubs to recognise their youngsters achievements with traditional trophy nights at the end of the season.
‘What we’re looking to do is get rid of the professional league model that kids have been playing. One big league across a season and one trophy for the winners.
‘We’re going to have shorter formats of the game and mini competitions through the season.
‘Silverware could be presented in these smaller competitions but that is up to the organisers.
‘The emphasis will be on player development, skill, technique and enjoying the game with friends.’