Development league proposed for youth

Danny Ledwith. PHOTO: ODT FILES
Danny Ledwith. PHOTO: ODT FILES
Football South is proposing a new development league as part of its youth set up.

High standard federation-wide leagues at under-15 and under-17 level were the basis of the proposal, sent out by Football South development officer Danny Ledwith.

That proposal has been sent to clubs for feedback.

The leagues would help fix some of the problems identified from surveys in the current set-up.

Those key issues were: lop-sided scores, teenagers playing senior football due to low-standard youth competitions, poor player experiences, no clear pathway and lack of selection to national programmes.

A survey also indicated that 77% of players between 13-17 years old would prefer to play in a competitive league among their own age.

Many teenagers were playing in third-tier or below senior teams, which the proposal said was not appropriate for development.

However, the alternative had been youth grades where games were often one-sided.

It was hoped these leagues would offer a better alternative and expose players more regularly to a Southern United Academy-type set-up.

Teams would have to meet certain criteria in terms of set-up in order to ensure the league was played at a high standard.

They would also be required to have 50% of their players from the bottom-age group of the grade.

It was also proposed to move the minimum age for senior football up to 17 from 16, with dispensation moving to 16 from 15.

A draft calendar consisted of a 13 game season and three to four Football South camps.

A second option was also presented, the age groups being a year younger and no restriction on how many top or bottom-aged players could be chosen.

The proposal has the league possibly beginning next year.

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