Where matches are played in a non-competitive format, selection will be based on equal playing time as far as possible for all squad members. However, we don’t insist our coaches following any set or prescribed way of achieving this, we leave this to the discretion of our coaches and the parents within each team to arrive at an agreed formula that best works for their children. For example half the team playing a full game one week, and not at all the next would be the same playing time as playing half a game every week. So long as the children are all treated fairly, the method chosen is transparent and well understood by all concerned then we are happy.
Logically, there is no good reason to prevent a child from playing. Children learn new skills and practise what they’ve learned in training sessions on the pitch. They won’t learn much by sitting on the bench – sitting on the sidelines is not one of the reasons why they come to football. Imagine if a lower ability child was forced to sit out of a maths lesson at school and only allowed in the classroom for the last 10 minutes!
For a child to develop their game-craft they need to have time in games with the ball. Take the maths lesson scenario a stage further, a child would not learn anything if the text book or teacher wasn’t equally shared around because those with significantly more ability kept hold of it or demanded all the attention from the teacher.
There is a balance to be struck, and that balance must be in the best interests of the child, not the best interest of the result. Therefore, we expect coaches and parents to keep an ongoing, open and realistic dialogue particularly if circumstances arise where there is a significant development gap between players in the same team. If a child is falling behind his/her peers this may require intervention to prevent it becoming an issue for example additional 1:1 coaching away from the team environment, soccer camps, holiday clubs or even, in the best interests of the child, helping to find other teams or clubs where the abilities of the children are more evenly matched.
When this policy is managed sensitively and fairly we will have discharged and balanced our FA Charter responsibilities and our founding premise to provide all our members with an equal opportunity to develop with our obligations and ambitions to run a successful and respected Club.
Once a team is playing in a competitive format (U12-U16) selection for the match squad may be based on a mixture of competency, fitness, availability and conduct.
All players who have paid their subscriptions must be given the opportunity by the coaches during training and any “friendly” matches to justify a place in the match squad
No player should be asked to leave the club for reasons related to competency but players might be advised through their parents that when the teams are primarily picked on competitive basis they are likely to spend a fair amount of time either on the subs bench or they might not make the match squad all that often. In this situation parents can be offered a “Training only” subscription which would be 50% of the normal subcription but would not include provision of a kit.
The coaches in the Under 11’s year have the crucial role of gently explaining to players and parents what the prospects are when moving up to the competitive game at Under 12.
We realise there are late developers – and those who want to hang in there and hope that this will happen are to be commended – they will be given every encouragement in training so to do – but equally all should know the reality of what to expect as they move up through the age groups.
The dialogue between coaches, parents and players is crucial and the relationships developed over the whole time from joining the club onwards should mean that there are no surprises for anyone.
Regular attendance at one training session per week is considered reasonable and a fair expectation for team membership. If additional training sessions are held the additional session is optional and should not affect a player’s selection for the next game.