Causeway Chronicle

Second phase of youth football consultation commences

Phase two of the Irish Football Association’s largest ever consultation is set to get under way later this month.

The association’s Youth Football Review aims to develop a framework which will revolutionise youth football for boys and girls in Northern Ireland.

The first phase was an online survey back in the autumn which attracted a huge number of responses – just over 23,000.

The survey has provided significant insights to help shape the future of youth football in Northern Ireland.

Phase two of the consultation is engagement with stakeholders through a series of roadshow events, the first of which is to be staged on Monday 12 February.

At those 14 events, plus an online version, the Irish FA Foundation will present the survey findings, which have been collated by Ulster University, as well as its draft proposals for the Youth Football Framework.

The framework will consist of four key pillars – active game, environment, education and governance – and will guarantee an active game that generates maximum enjoyment and technical development for every child. It will also provide a clear outline of how the youth game will be played across the mainstream pathways for both boys and girls.

James Thompson, Director of the Irish FA Foundation, said: “We have already engaged with many stakeholders in the game and through this series of roadshows we hope to engage further with the football family and those involved in youth football to hear their views on our draft proposals.”

To help with the development of the framework various studies were reviewed by Ulster University to establish common attitudes among children and young people towards sport and physical activity.

UU found activities offered should take account of the developmental differences in age to balance fun experiences with pathway engagements and social opportunities. It also found early development activities should be inclusive of technical skill and fundamental movement activities.

Another key finding was that participation in sport and physical activity can improve children’s learning and skills development, contributing to their overall well-being and future prospects.

Feedback from the survey included calls for a safe and quality learning environment, the need for a focus on skills and player development rather than a win at all costs mentality, and improved behaviour on the sidelines.

The roadshow events (each running from 7-9pm) will be staged at the following venues:

Lagan Hub – National Football Stadium at Windsor Park (Pat Jennings Lounge) – 12 February

South West Hub – Bawnacre Centre, Irvinestown – 13 February

Lagan Hub – Lisburn Leisureplex – 14 February

North East – Ulster University Coleraine (Room H102) – 15 February

Newry Mourne and Down – Newry Leisure Centre – 19 February

South and East Antrim – Seaview Stadium, Belfast – 20 February

South West – MUGA/Hall in Castlecaulfield – 21 February

North Down – Londonderry Park, Newtownards (upstairs meeting room) – 22 February

North West – Ulster University Magee (Room MU125), Derry-Londonderry – 26 February

Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon – Lurgan Town Clubhouse – 28 February

South and East Antrim – Antrim Forum – 29 February

South West – Mountjoy United FC (Omagh) – 4 March

Newry Mourne and Down – Down Leisure Centre, Downpatrick – 5 March

Online – 6 March

North East – Ballymena Showgrounds – 7 March

If you are interested in attending a roadshow event please register via this link: https://forms.office.com/e/H4iQt2WjDx

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Maurice Bradley