Provision for disabled participants

It is estimated that around 70 thousand boys play football, for either a school or club team, at each age level between the age ranges of Under 11 to Under 16, and that over 500 thousand play between the ages of nine to 16. Therefore, there should be a lot of English players playing in the English Premier League, coming up the ranks through academies. But this is not the case as you will clearly see when watching the premiership and hearing some of the critism clubs like Arsenal get for having too many foreign players.

I personally feel that a lot of these English players in the academies get dropped at around the Age of 16 or when they are ready to take that step up into the reserves or first team. This is probably due to the growing number of foreigners playing in the premiership. 25 man squads will be limited to 17 foreigners by 2008-2009. This is for the UEFA Cup and Champions League (UEFA Ruling) which will make clubs oblige the law as if the want to be playing European football and be a big club they will need to do this.

Football is the sixth most popular participant sport in the UK. It is the most popular team sport by far. Most kids play it and watch it but adults tend to just watch it. Grassroots development There are 43 county football association and they are the backbone of grassroots football throughout the country. The counties are independent bodies, affiliated to The FA, but responsible for running all aspects of the game at local level. Around 40,000 football clubs in total are affiliated to County FA’s.

It is the local county’s job to organise competitions and leagues, register players to clubs and organise match officials, administrate discipline, development at local levels for example organising coaching, Mini-Soccer tournaments, women’s’ and girl’s football and training programmes for referees and first-aiders. All money received by local County FA’s will be put back into football in your area. If Counties have set up County teams then some of the money will be put into there, which is for the more elite players.

This will help players improve and is a good way to get scouted by professional academies and then even hopefully going on to play internationally at the highest level. There are also a few academies set up outside Huntingdon for the more elite players. These are in the Cities like Cambridge, Peterborough, Norwich, Ipswich etc. Huntingdon is also not that far away from London where there is a number of academies.

In Huntingdon there are 5 teams that are in the Cambridge County League. This is a Sunday league. All of the clubs in this league have access to pitches. Some are nice and come are not. Before I reached U17’s I use to play in this league for Huntingdon Rowdies. They have 5 pitches and one main pitch where Huntingdon Town play (Adults). This pitch has been used in the past for cup finals. Where cup finals are played is decided by the Cambs FA.

The Hunts FA have a county team for Under 14, 15 and 16. I played for all of them and enjoyed it as it was a step up from normal Sunday football. The Hunts FA also has a cup called the Hunts Cup which is for teams that only are part of Huntingdonshire. There is no lack of referees, facilities and competitions in this area which is can only have a positive effect on players games. As proven by Darren Bent who grew up in Huntingdon.

Provision for male/female competitors In this area there are a number of clubs for males and females. Noticeably there are more clubs in and out of school for boys as Football is predominantly played by males. The schools I attend have girls and boys football teams. We play other schools throughout the year. The girls teams in and out of school tend to be multi aged as otherwise they would not be able to get a team easily. Outside of schools for boys there are clubs for ages between 9 and 18, from 7-a-side through to 11-a-side, the length on games increase the older you get and by the time you reach under 18’s you are playing the full 90 minutes like professionals.

From there, players can progress through to reserves and first teams playing in leagues such as UCL league or even at a higher standard like conference south (Cambridge City, Histon). There are not as many female clubs but it is similar. Both boys and girls can get scouted by Academies if they are goods enough. Many professional teams now have a men’s team and a separate woman’s team. The women’s team would definitely be less profile and the players would not get paid as much as the men. There is also a men and women’s team at national level in England.

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