A Generation of Winners & Losers

Football Agents and Football Intermediaries
Football Agents and Football Intermediaries

A Generation of Winners & Losers

Football Agents - Football Intermediaries: Sports Article: from the author and freelance sports journalist Kevin Walters: Looking at the changes in the "innocence of football" in the 1970's to the commercial pressures of today.

Growing up in Sunderland in the 1970’s was probably similar to growing up in most other English towns. Football was the main theme every week-end. Sunderland AFC’s Roker Park was where the hero’s played, but the local parks and pitches were where everyone else played.
In 1975, there were Saturday morning, Saturday afternoon, Sunday morning and Sunday afternoon leagues in Sunderland – approximately 25 leagues operating at senior level, with approximately 12 teams per league.  That is 300 senior teams in the Sunderland area alone in 1975. Today, there is nearer 50 senior teams!

However, look at the junior teams in the same area and the same ratio applies – but in the opposite direction. There are significantly more junior teams today than there was in 1975. So, why is that significant?

In the 70’s football was what most young men did at a week-end. There were good players, who played in the Northern and Wearside Leagues, and there were not so good players playing lower down the leagues. Sometimes, the good players got paid for playing, but they would have played anyway! There was no real expectation, the majority played because they loved playing football.

Today, the expectations on junior players are extreme.  Nothing’s changed in that the really good players will go to football league academy clubs, but it’s the lower to bottom range that this blog is about.

What is happening nowadays is the high expectations on junior players has taken away the enjoyment of the playing the game. As junior players move through the age bands, the not so good players become so disillusioned with the expectation burden that they give up playing altogether. And that is why the amount of senior teams in the area has reduced so significantly.

No longer can young men go along and enjoy playing football. That enjoyment is curbed in the early years because the win at all costs rule applies now. Just go along to any junior game and witness the touchline behaviour of many of the parents and coaches. It’s pressure time for the kids on the pitch, and they grow up not realising that football should be a game to enjoy playing – win or lose!

Grass roots senior football is in danger of becoming a minority sport in this country in the not too distant future, unless the people involved at the junior level can bring back the enjoyment in playing the beautiful game.

Kevin Walters, is an independent freelance journalist and has kindly produced this article for Football Agents - Football Intermediaries;

All opinions and any factual content are the sole responsibility of the sports writer.


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