Ahead of the 2018/19 season, The FA have produced a new Mini-Soccer and Youth Futsal Handbook to ensure more children enjoy “the greatest game in the world”.
The aim of the handbook is to encourage regular consideration of youth-specific elements of the game. These include making sure that everyone - children and adults - has an enjoyable time, whether the pitch is fit to play on, if the weather is appropriate for small children and if playing indoors would be better. Playing time, principles and laws are also included.
Children from Under 7s to 10s play mini-soccer rather than competing in leagues. They can play in a maximum of three trophy events during the season, which allows them to learn about winning and losing in a fun environment. Trophies can be awarded to the winners, and the results of the mini-event published, though they are considered ‘festival-based’.
Meanwhile, the popularity of Futsal has grown notably over the last decade. Futsal is a skilful and high-intensity game played by ten players on an indoor court with a heavy ball. Coaches of young players should ensure they have an understanding of the basic laws as Futsal has proved to be a great way to start children playing and enjoying the game.
Peter Sturgess, FA National Lead Coach & FIFA Futsal Instructor, is a strong believer in small-sided football for youth players, explaining: “We all want children to enjoy playing and fall in love with football from an early age. Mini-Soccer and Futsal are both designed to allow children to do just that. They both have a key role to play in the development of young players.”
Gareth Southgate, England Men’s 11v11 Manager and former coach of Three Lions youth age groups, said: "As a parent myself, I want to see children of all abilities playing the game and learning. They should be able to try skills and have fun without any pressure.”
The FA Mini-Soccer and Youth Futsal Handbook can be downloaded below, and from the 'Players/Youth' page accessed all year round via the menu at the top of the page. Information on grassroots Essex football can also be found by following @EssexCountyFA on Twitter and by searching for ‘EssexFootball’ on Facebook.